|JVC XV-BP1 Blu-ray Player Review|
|Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players|
|Written by Thomas Spurlin|
|Wednesday, 24 February 2010|
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For the purposes of this review, JVC’s XV-BP1 operated via HDMI to a bitstream-capable receiver, Onkyo’s SR605, and then routed to LG’s 55LH40. The player has also been updated to the most recent firmware, version 7.159, which is extremely easy to do; after downloading the zip file from JVC’s website and unzipping it onto a USB 2.0 device, simply putting said device into the player causes it to search for an update on the drive. A few issues that I had with playback regarding advanced BD-Java were rectified after running the update, including some odd menu movement on newer Blu-ray discs.
Loading up Spears and Munsil’s Hand Forged A/V test disc proved to be a satisfactory experience with the XV-BP1, though a bit problematic with some of the procedures and, quite honestly, a bit confusing. It glides right through Color, Source Adaptive (wedge pattern specifically, at 2:3:2:3, 5:5. and 24p) and Edge Adaptive (Jaggies) tests with grace and accuracy, but it has noticeable issues with contrast. The High / Low PLUGE tests rendered decent gray levels but no deep blacks, while the Contrast testing handled black levels fine enough but – most disconcertingly – clipped off a large portion of the white-level contrast (“white crush”). However, when playing back a Blu-ray disc, these issues really didn’t factor into the quality of the Blu-ray imagery itself; though it’s maybe a step behind other power hitters in the price quadrant, the aural and visual rendering is extremely satisfying – colorful, amply contrasted, and pleasingly sharp.
There are a few things to note about the JVC’s performance that might raise a few red flags. For one, the unit itself doesn’t come equipped with an internal fan, which sometimes allows temperatures to spike a bit – something that should, naturally, be monitored due to its nature as a software-based player. While operating, the temperature does rise a bit, resulting in a few fairly warm discs once ejected, so storing in a cooler, ventilated area is suggested. Also, the player had a strange, highly intermittent oddity with playback, where it sometimes (rarely) bypassed start-up menus with discs that should default to them (to answer a question possibly raised here – no, these weren’t the WB Blu-rays that instantly default to the film). At times, they’d skip instantly to the first seconds of the film, but other times they might skip ahead 15 seconds or so. Again, this was very irregular, but it did occur a few times.
Paramount’s release of Star Trek (2009) remains on of the more entrancingly robust Blu-rays on the market, in regards to color range and excruciating sharpness, which JVC’s player handled with enthusiastic quality. Lots of blasts and motion take center stage in J.J. Abrams’ 2.35:1 film, and the bold colors and perpetual movement are preserved well when flowing at 24p through this AVC encode. The superb range of color looks exquisite when played in the XV-BP1, offering moments in the Enterprise’s deck that are sublime. But, along with that, there are also moments where flesh tones and natural texture find their way into direct interaction with the audience (mostly in close-ups), and these all look proficiently detailed and accurate. Moreover, the thunderous Dolby TrueHD track thunders forward with plenty of bombast here, stretching activity across the soundstage to great degrees. JVC’s player bitstreams the track without a hitch, offering robust low-end activity and crisp mid-range fluency.
Shifting gears a bit, Universal’s presentation of Coraline gave the player the chance to show its proficiency in rendering animation at 1.78:1. Henry Selick’s film is one with a wealth of creative energy behind its construction, boasting an astounding level of color and textural artistry that’s entrancing – especially in high-definition. Every ounce of its prowess as a piece of art is replicated through JVC’s Blu-ray player; minute details, like stitching and burlap texture, leap from the screen to an impressive degree, while the shifts from a colder palette to rich, fantasy-bound coloring flushes along beautifully. As such, Coraline’s DTS HD Master Audio track handles a wide range of delicate effects, verbal sharpness, and a few thunderous sequences splashed in there for good measure, all of which JVC’s player pushes forward with exceptional clarity and buoyancy.
Finally, Criterion’s presentation of The Seventh Seal took its turn in the player, showcasing its capacity to render 1.33:1, black and white material in HD – as well as in LPCM Monaural sound. Some concern was spiked during the Spears and Munsil testing for the XV-BP1’s ability to handle grayscale contrast, but those concerns were quietly eschewed upon screening Ingmar Bergman’s film. Black levels showcase a finer depth than expected when considering these tests, while white levels topped off with pleasing crispness. In between the two, none of the middle-of-the-road gray details were washed out or swallowed up. Moreover, the crispness at play in JVC’s player echoes in the strong lines and preserved film grayat work here, both of which provide class film lovers with a robust experience.
JVC’s XV-BP1 is also BD-Live and Profile 2.0 compliant, rendering the Java-based elements to proficient degrees. The Picture-in-Picture elements in Fox’s copy of Sunshine rendered both audio and video appropriately, though you’ve still got to toggle between Pass-Through and PCM Multichannel to activate the sound portion. Accessing the internet for the BD-Live portions operates like most other Blu-rays of its type, with a plug-and-play identification on-board and the option to toggle IP Mode. Furthermore, this player is a Region-A player alone, as tested with a copy of Fox’s B-locked The Fountain; it does, however, access PAL-encoded special features, since it has an in-board NTSC-PAL converter, as tested by a copy of Tartan’s I’m a Cyborg Blu-ray.