LG’s home theater equipment has maintained a sturdy name for itself since high-definition has taken prominence, wedging in between the other bigwigs for a share of the market with sturdy performance and often times intriguing design choices. Their Blu-ray players are no exception, offering a stylish flare in their chassis with respectable performance – not to mention a range of affordability scaled between models. These factors have carried over into LG’s new 5-series of Blu-ray decks, ranging from the network-free 550 model to their higher-end 590 model with a 250 GB storage drive. Here, AVRev got its hands on their BD570, yet the details that highlighted their performance are somewhat muted this time around. Unfortunately, its awkward design implementation, problematic stability, and merely sufficient performance, for both Blu-ray discs and standard-definition DVDs, hamper the fluidity of the BD570’s wireless networking and an attractive, easy-to-navigate (if overdesigned) interface.
Out of the Box:
Measured less than two inches high and a fairly standard 8 inched wide, 17 inches deep, LG’s player does appear sleek when looked at from a distance. The size isn’t celebration worthy, seeing as other models with equal skill sets fit nearly the exact same dimensions, but the compactness of these new decks still impresses in comparison to previous models, like JVC’s XV-BP1. The gray spindle from the 370 model has been tossed aside, though a center design fixture still remains in the form of two soft, glowing lights surrounding the Blu-ray logo (obviously only alit when the player’s on). The most noticeable aesthetic change comes in the hinged front door/cover, altered from the two-flap design from before into one large concealing flap – a design-only implementation that really isn’t necessary, considering the minimal arrangement underneath.
Aside from a standard Pause/Stop/Advance row of circular buttons that sits to the right of the LED clock, as well as an aggravatingly-placed USB port that requires the flap to be open in order to utilize media on a storage device, LG’s player also implements cumbersome placement and construction design for the Eject / Power buttons. A blocky strip discreetly sits at the top that controls both functions, Eject on the left and Power on the right, which offers that little extra bit of convenience in not flipping open the tray to control these features. However, the strength of the button’s construction isn’t very sturdy, feeling as if the mechanisms underneath each side of the bar could become brittle with time. That’s just speculation, of course, but the build quality reeks of cutting corners.
To the rear of the unit, the BD570 offers a standard array of jacks for easy plug-and-play usage – aside from one exception. An HDMI port serves as the central connection, with component video and Toslink audio ports also available for legacy connections and an Ethernet port for hard-wired internet connections. Frustratingly, LG Has opted to go the route of a built-in power cable instead of a port for an interchangeable AC adapter, which wouldn’t be quite as big of an issue if the cable itself wasn’t extremely short – roughly five feet in length. Therefore, many folks might need to invest in an extension cable to reach power outlets / strips further than that away, and obviously those with AC cords already positioned in their console will likely want to think twice about the player.
LG’s remote – model AKB72975301 – surprised me with its user-friendly design, fitting comfortably in the hand with a moderate weight and a comfortable button layout. The first thing that stands out is the navigation spindle at the center, made with a skin-gripping material that makes placement of fingers comfortable. Directly outside of the directional points, the Disc Menu, Title/Pup Up Menu, Info/Display, and Home buttons surround them – and each of the buttons click. It takes a little getting used to, but the button clicks become somewhat likable after a while. To the bottom, the rest of the Blu-ray functions can be sound, such as the quad-colored RGYB buttons, as well as a series of controls for LG televisions – which work just fine on a 55LH40, as does the SIMPLINK function. Equally as distinct as the central symbol, the primary glow-in-the-dark Play / Pause / Stop buttons sit at a curve at the center of the remote.
Easily one of the biggest sways in its favor, the LG BD570’s setup process couldn’t be simpler. When the system boots up, a new-fangled GUI becomes available that’s a bit different than the norm. Instead of static menu options, LG adds a bit of flare with each option – Movie, Photo, Music, Home Link, Netcast, and Setup – in shimmering ice cubes bobbing up and down in water. It’s a different touch, but one that shows a level of fun, out-of-the-box design innovation that adds to the experience of setting up a new toy. Under the “Setup” ice cube, which transitions to a normal block menu once selected, six functions are available: Display, Language, Audio, Lock, Network, and Others. Display handles rudimentary tailoring to aspect ratio, resolution, Hz display for 1080p content, and color space, while the Audio controls the HDMI / Digital Output (set to Primary Pass-Thru via HDMI), Sampling Frequency, and Dynamic Range Control (DRC).
Connecting to the Internet under the “Network” function operates on about the same level of simplicity as finding a wireless signal with a computer, as the player instantly registers signals in the area. It prompts the user for either a Wired or Wireless connection, locates access points, and then opens up a passkey screen for protected networks. One thing that might be a bit startling is that there’s not an uppercase function directly visible, but that’s just because it’s another option underneath the “#+=&” that pops up after hitting the button once. Type in the passkey and wait for the Dynamic IP to be registered, and then the player’s ready for internet access. Also under the Network Men are toggles for verifying information for Netflix and deactivating Vudu. At this point, updating the firmware in the “Others” menu will alleviate a lot of issues that the player will incur later on – something experienced first-hand.
Though no options to tailor the visual attributes are available in the Setup menu, a “User Setting” option can be found with a little digging. By hitting Display on the remote, which brings up a “Picture Mode” menu that mentions the audio track at-use, time progression, chapter listing, and a few other standard features, there’s one menu option next to a painter’s palette that reads “Standard”. Under this menu option, several picture modes are selectable – Standard, Vivid, Movie, and User Setting. These options tailor the Contrast, Brightness, Color, Sharpness, and Noise Reduction to degreed between -3 and +3, all of which are fairly start alterations. Mostly, they push the image beyond looking natural by even a slight adjustment.