Sharp BD-HP21H review

The Sharp BD-HP21H is a competent Blu-ray player but one that never threatens to upset the key players Tested at £245.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Competent Blu-ray player but one that never threatens to upset the key players


  • +

    Decent Blu-ray and DVD picture quality


  • -

    Decent picture quality isn’t enough in this company

  • -

    low feature-count

  • -

    sounds bright

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While the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer have been adding to the Blu-ray player population at quite a steady rate, it's fair to say that Sharp's players are yet to really make their mark in the UK market. And, with players like the BD-HP21 it's not difficult to see why.

Its feature list is one of the weakest in this sector. It's only Profile 1.1 enabled, which means that you can't access BD-Live functionality available on some Blu-ray discs. There's no Ethernet port so carrying out future software updates could be tricky, although you are provided with a USB input.

Strangely, the 'HP21 isn't able to playback MP3 or WMA-encoded discs. HDMI and component video outputs are all present and correct, however, and the player can handle native HD audio formats.

The fact that it can only decode Dolby TrueHD internally is hardly unusual for an entry-level Blu-ray player, but it's worth noting that the Panasonic 'BD35 does all this and it's cheaper.

The Sharp's fascia is covered in a gloss black coat that looks decent enough. The fascia is minimalist with only two buttons disturbing the smooth appearance. A small ring of neon blue on the front of the unit indicates you have a disc in the drawer, be it a Blu-ray, DVD or CD.

Images are a plus-point

Spin a Blu-ray and the Sharp uncovers a decent amount of detail, and the player does a better job with blacks than the LG BD300. At least the caped crusader's outfit in The Dark Knight doesn't look like it has faded in the wash.

On the whole, the image is stable with minimal judder. DVD playback is okay for the money, although it doesn't come close to matching the equivalent Sony and Panasonic machines, which are capable of delivering a cleaner, punchier picture, packed with detail.

With movie soundtracks, the 'HP21H is a competent performer. Dynamically, there's a lot for the Sharp to shout about, but it can err on the bright side.

The explosive nature of the Band of Brothers DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack combined with the Sharp's hardness is uncomfortable over a prolonged period.

The Sharp looks nothing but mediocre in the company of cheaper, superior Blu-ray players. It's hardly a failure, but we'd spend our hard-earned cash elsewhere.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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