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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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ImageWith their signature two-tone, slick yet simple aesthetic and a penchant for quality in the audio / video spectrum, especially with a range of excellent receivers, Harman Kardon have always had a way with throwing together capable machines that also project a certain electronic sex appeal.  It’s only natural that their flagship Blu-ray player, the BDP 1, carries along the same blend of sharp looks and capableness in the quality department.   Though lighter on features when compared to other models within its price range (namely the OPPO BDP-83) and fairly skimpy on personal adjustment, Harman Kardon have justly taken their stronger qualities into consideration and built a proficient 1080p/24, Profile 2.0 Blu-ray / upscaling DVD player with an eye for streamline design.

Out of the Box:

Coming equipped in a sturdy standard cardboard box, Harman Kardon’s unit impresses out of the gate with its aesthetic looks.  Sporting clean, curved edges and a sleek two-toned design, the BDP 1 takes the rather standard framework of most common Blu-ray players on the market and gives it a nudge in the attractiveness department.  They key word to bear in mind is simplicity, as the front panel aims to mirror the minimalist appearance of HK’s other equipment.  It’s comparable in size to others on the market (2-5/8” high, 17-5/16” wide, 13-7/8” deep), while also weighing in at a healthy 8 pounds.  At the front are an array of sliver-thin buttons for ejecting the disc and navigating playback, along with a USB 2.0 port that will become essential for BD-Live functionality.  Interestingly, the power indication light is all the way to the far left corner of the unit, sloping with the player’s curved edge.  It’s a bright orange light when turned off and, oddly, very bright white when powered on.  The placement is great and the coloring of the light is very attractive, but the glaringness of the bulb is a little distracting. 

To the rear, the BDP 1 utilizes a standard array of jacks.  Along with the v1.3 HDMI port utilized primarily throughout this review, it also sports component jacks, coaxial; and optical output jacks, and an RJ-45 Ethernet port for internet connectivity.  There’s also an IR Out for a remote.  It does not have 5.1 analog plugs for non-HDMI receivers, but it does have standard Composite and Stereo Analog jacks.  Along with that, the power supply runs from a standard, removable AC power input, equipped alongside a Master Power On / Off switch.  No frills, just the bare bones that the player needs.

Along the same lines, Harman Kardon have done a stellar job with their infrared remote for this unit.  At first glance, it has the appearance of being a little on the “Star Trek” prop side – sporting a contoured head at the top that’s wider than the bottom.  Once handled, this little remote proved to be very comfortable and weighted well.  It’s coated on the bottom with a matte rubber-like substance that creates a comfortable feel against the palm and fingertips.   After a little tinkering with the buttons, the “set phasers to stun” sensation quickly disappeared.

At the top of the remote lies the core of the playback navigation, with buttons in the shapes of their functions – triangle for Play, upright dashes for Pause, etc., all of which are a reasonable size.   The remote sports separate Power On / Off buttons instead of a singular button, with the Open / Close button sitting somewhat in between them on a lower level.  Chapter and time code information can be brought up using the Status button, yet it doesn’t offer monitoring of bitstream flow, codec status, or resolution status. Standard menu buttons are available, including the two pop-up and disc menu functions, along with a Dimmer function to toggle the brightness of the LED display’s blue lettering at the front of the unit.  The display ranges from bright blue to completely pitch black, a nice touch to limit the amount of light coming from the player itself.

Towards the bottom of the remote control, along with the numerical keypad, there’s also a standard array of secondary functions – Angle, Audio, Subtitle, A-B, Repeat, as well as the four-color function buttons.  This remote has also been built with a very attractive backlight (labeled Light), which glows a very soft whitish-blue and stays lit for a good 6-8 seconds after pressing the function. To round out the design, Harman Kardon’s typographical logo appears in raised silver writing at the button.  The remote, and the player, are missing one or two functions that make other units in the price range appealing – notably a lack of a Zoom function – but the reliability of the sensor and the comfort of use more than outweigh its initial odd appearance.  

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