As budget decks go, this is a beauty. It's a real rival for the top performers
Excellent 2D and 3D picture quality
Fantastically focused and solid sound
Twin HDMI outputs
Limited smart features
The Pioneer BDP-450 is Pioneer’s newest Blu-ray deck, and it spells good news for budget-conscious consumers.
There’s no shortage of good, budget Blu-ray decks on the market at the moment. Great news for the consumer, but it’s harder for a manufacturer to stand out from the crowd. But, if anyone can build a machine to compete with the Sonys and Panasonics of this world, then it’s the hugely experienced Pioneer.
Pioneer BDP-450 review: specsThe feature count on the BDP-450 is high and includes 3D Blu-ray compatibility and universal disc playback (DVD-Audio and SACD). On the back you’ll find twin HDMI outputs: useful if your surround amp can’t handle 3D. You can use one to send sound to your amp and the other to beam the picture straight to your display
The player also supports Pioneer’s proprietary jitter reduction technology, PQLS. It’s designed to reduce digital timing errors and works when you connect the machine via HDMI to one of the company’s compatible amps such as the SC-LX56.
USB sockets front and back let you hook up a storage device (memory stick or NAS) and stream through the BDP-450, and it’s also DLNA-enabled so it can access files on a home network (via ethernet or via an optional wireless dongle) and even stream from a smartphone running the right app.
More after the break
The smart features on offer aren’t as extensive as those offered by the likes of Sony or Samsung, but you do get access to video and photos on YouTube and Picasa.
Pioneer BDP-450 review: picture qualityOf course, our primary concern is picture quality – and the Pioneer is spellbinding. Spin a 2D Blu-ray such as Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and it serves up a stunningly detailed image. The CGI looks breathtaking, with the Pioneer uncovering lashings of detail, drawing beautifully defined edges and conveying it great depth – and this translates to great 3D too, with even more detail bringing the action to life.
Play a normal DVD and the BDP-450 shows its internal scaler is up to the job, too. Next to other machines at the money, the Pioneer’s picture looks more detailed and robust. Whites look punchy, but there’s also an extra layer of subtlety to shading.
Pioneer BDP-450 review: sound qualitySound is also a cut above: explosions sound weighty and taut, while rockets fire across channels with expert precision. The soundtrack displays impressive dynamics and gels well with the on-screen action, and dialogue sounds detailed and focused.
The BDP-450 is undoubtedly a new contender for class-leading status.