Here's a first: a Blu-ray player from JVC. Announced back in January at this year's CES in Las Vegas, the long-awaited XV-BP1 has finally made it into our hands for testing.
And it certainly makes an entrance: resplendent in glowing lights, the front fascia is strangely reminiscent of a slab of Naim electronics, with five control buttons huddled towards one end of the front panel.
Only the blue glow, as opposed to Naim's green, gives the game away.
Menus are simple to negotiateThe somewhat brash appearance gives way to more workmanlike on-screen menus. Similar to JVC's TV menu systems, they look smart and are easy enough to navigate. What's more, it also benefits from a fast loading time, so we're up and running pretty quickly.
Having had plenty of time to think about this player, it's no surprise that JVC has seen fit to include all necessary technology. Alongside 1080p/24fps video and 1080p upscaling DVD, there's on-board decoding for all HD audio, BD-Live compatibility and a front-mounted USB connection.
More after the break
You won't find multichannel analogue outputs, but that doesn't mark it out for particular criticism in this price sector.Struggles against tough competitionSadly for JVC, there's a bit to criticise where AV performance is concerned, but it's worth pointing out this is as much down to the strength of rivals as this player's own relative shortcomings.
Nevertheless, the opening of The Dark Knight sees the JVC trip up with motion by showing some staccato judders as the camera pans across Gotham City.
Dawn and dusk scenes also fail to convey the difference between bright and dark as well as key rivals. The JVC does display a fair attention to detail and a natural colour palette, whether with BD or DVD, but this doesn't do enough to get our pulses racing.
Sound lacks zip and driveThis lacklustre presentation is matched by the JVC's sonic character.
As Tom Cruise comes under fire at the start of Valkyrie, there's not the zip and immediacy that a punchy, dynamic soundtrack should bring, while overall insight isn't up to the standard required, with sounds lacking the separation and space of the very best.
JVC's debut Blu-ray player may have all the technical nous required, but the finesse to put it to good use seems sadly to be missing.