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Harman Kardon BDP 1 Blu-ray Player Review Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 July 2009
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Harman Kardon BDP 1 Blu-ray Player Review
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First and foremost, the Harman Kardon BDP 1 is a healthy, fully-functioning Blu-ray player with an exceptional eye for design.  Right out of the box, it impresses with the elegance put into making it an attractive option.  It’s one the sleeker and more unique aesthetic models available currently, sporting a unique framework that adds to the prestige of the branding.  Underneath the hood, however, it’s a streamlined and easy-to-rig unit with very little tweaking necessary.  The player renders a sharp and colorful image out of the box, with the capacity to bitstream native TrueHD and Master Audio tracks flawlessly. Sounds might actually be its strongest suit, as each of the audio portions tested through the Blu-ray side of the technology were extremely impressive.  Barreling through a slew of different discs provided a very strong high-definition viewing experience, from Burton creativity to Tarantino bloodshed.  Visual rendering is handled crisply, while the audio streaming and internal decoding work great.

As far as features go, the BD-Java operates well – though the discs themselves take a while to load – while the availability to downmix and internally decode the audio tracks helps those with PCM-only receivers. On top of that, the player’s ability to upscale DVDs to 1080p is rather impressive.  Detail, color, and clarity all receive a healthy treatment when boosted, while disagreeable sources from interlaced discs are handled well.  Its merit as a 1080p upconverter stands well against the competition, though it’s not quite as pristine as other players in its price range.  Along with that, the BDP 1 handles itself with distinction as a CD player and mini-media hub, showcasing images and audio files with a simple yet functional navigation system for arranging and viewing the files.

However, there are a few caveats to consider.  For one, the BDP 1 sits in a price range with one or two equally impressive models that carry a few additional features.  Its quality also stands toe-to-toe with these other models in that particular price range, namely the OPPO BDP-83.  However, a few additional issues – namely the necessity for an external storage space to get online with the player, the lack of user-defined adjustments, and the lack of a on-board PAL decoder – make the purchase towards a quiet and attractive unit a little more difficult to muster.  

Final Thoughts:

Within the price range, currently at the $500 point, the Harman Kardon BDP 1 comes out of the gate as a strong option on the Blu-ray front.  It plays on a fairly inconspicuously level with low-sound components inside, while also working as a fully-functional Profile 2.0 player with BD-Live capabilities up and performing.  Most of all, the visual and audio qualities in Blu-ray mode are both excellent, while the standard-definition upscaling stands impressively with others of its ilk.  It’s a great unit, without question, and fantastically simple to set up once the box has been cracked open.  Though a little rigid with options outside of normal playing modes, the BDP 1 is an attractive, high-quality player that’s worth consideration for those shopping in the market.    It’s still a little pricy and fairly limited in options when compared to other, less expensive Blu-ray players, but Harman Kardon have made the investment worth the jump with terrific high-definition quality and its own stylish panache.

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