Considering the price and the specification, hopes around here were high for the LG BD370. It has all the core features bar on-board decoding to analogue outputs, and even manages to include a USB input and Ethernet socket.
This latter gives access to the BD Live content of certain discs and, as the prominent sticker on the machine indicates, allows streaming of YouTube videos (with the usual ‘check with your broadband provider' caveats).
LG claims super-fast loading times too. And on top of this, the BD370 is a cleanly finished, good-looking device with model on-screen menus. Only the disorderly and cheap-feeling remote strikes a false note.
Good but not greatUsed to its best advantage (playing the splendid Blu-ray transfer of the sublime Fargo), the LG falls heavily into the ‘good-but-not-great' category.
In terms of colours and contrasts, the BD370 is beyond criticism, and motion is gripped confidently, but in all circumstances the very finest details elude it.
More after the break
There's an accompanying softness to edges and, consequently, complex shapes and patterns are never rendered entirely convincingly.
The most obvious upshot of this is a lack of definition – and inevitably, character – where facial details and textures are concerned.
It's interesting to note that dark scenes suffer no more than those that are brightly lit, but that's no real compensation.
Working a little too hardUpscaling our Kill Bill vol.1 DVD to 1080p, the LG has the same aura of marginal control – like a weightlifter straining under the heavy bar, the BD370's knees are knocking.
There are no glaring flaws in upscaled images, but the regular appearance of picture noise and the shimmering of difficult scenes reveals how hard the player is working.
Whether playing DVD or Blu-ray, the LG generates a strangely hollow, insubstantial sound – it has no great problems describing dynamic peaks and troughs, it just that it sounds boneless while it's doing it.
Add in a not-entirely unexpected CD sound that's as diaphanous as movie soundtracks but considerably less well organised, and the BD370 is almost perfectly underwhelming.
It's not a disaster in any respect, and in some ways (price, spec, finish) it's more than acceptable.
But if a Blu-ray player can't make the best of the Blu-ray format, it's going to be mighty difficult for it to score more than an average rating – even if it does load a disc relatively quickly.