Two years post the HD format crusade, the innovations that consumers get to witness in the Blu-ray arena just does not seem to cease, thus making life all the more interesting to watch technology grow by the minute. Leading players – Sony, Samsung, Philips, Panasonic have left no stone unturned in replacing Hi-def DVD players into full-size home entertainment boxes. LG however holds the pioneer status and has gone one step ahead and introduced on-demand movies via VUDU, with introduction of the LG BD590 (our player in discussion today) that features a 250GB hard drive. Well! This South Korean company has unswervingly been ahead of the flock when it comes to Blu-ray players. But then, what took us by surprise is when almost every manufacturer had a 3D player to boast of, at the CES 2010, LG begged to differ here by taken an absolutely different stance in unveiling their flagship player, BD590 that comes equipped with an in-built hard drive aiding with ripping CDs. Well! We think it is a smart move. With endless choices being available for 3D players, CD ripping seems to be one unique feature that might attract a good amount of buyers for the player.
The LG BD590 Blu Ray Disc Player takes entertainment to the next level going one step ahead by allowing instant streaming of entertainment. Besides enjoying Full HD 1080p along with matchless entertainment options it is also loaded with a 250GB Media Library allowing you to store your precious memories in the form of Photos, Music or the HD movies bought from Vudu. Isn’t it something better than a Blu-ray? Also check out LG’s new partners for 2010 – AccuWeather and Picasa. So does this justify paying couple of bucks extra than its predecessor BD570 that features almost the same attributes with the exclusion of the hard drive? Is it really necessary to have an internal hard drive in a Blu-ray player? Well take a sneak peek to find answers to the above questions!
In The Box
- 1 x A/V Cable
- 1 x Nero’s MediaHome 4 Essential software (LG Edition)
- 1 x Quick Start Guide
- 1 x Customer Registration Card
- 1 x Universal Remote Control
- 2 x AAA Batteries
- 1 x User Manual
Measuring 17 x 11 inches this 7-pound disc spinner resembles its predecessor, the LG BD390, when it comes to design, but slightly sleek and definitely less bulky despite the hard drive making it blend with any home theater system. The front panel has a hi-tech and glossy finish and flips down automatically with the disc tray being ejected. It almost hides the disc tray as well as the control buttons like the Play/Stop and the USB port. A word of caution though – if you plan on keeping the USB stick inserted, you might not be able to close the front panel.
Though flip-down panels help in maintaining the sleekness of a unit, the fragility of the same sure does pose a question to its durability. Again, the Eject/Power buttons are handily located on the top making access easy (that is if you do not stack another gadget on top of the player). Beneath the front panel is where one can find the handy chapter forward/backward playback buttons. Powering on the unit lights up the bright LCD display, which is clearly readable even across the room. But then, some might find it distractingly bright, especially with watching an online movie, as the player blinks both the red and blue lights, which cannot be dimmed.
The rear of the BD590 Blu-Ray player hosts a set of controls that include the HDMI 1.3a with x.v.Color, composite and component video outs, digital audio outs, 2 channels of analog audio as well as an Ethernet port. Audio connections go on to include coaxial digital, TosLink, and stereo analog. Unlike its predecessor BD390, the BD590 is devoid of 7.1 analogue outputs, a trend that we will continue to see on mass-market players. The BD590 is also adept when it comes to internal decoding of lossless codecs like the DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD including the option to send the same via HDMI as PCM or lossless bitstream. With an Ethernet connection at home, you might want to take advantage of the Ethernet jack provided or simply go wireless using the in-built 802.11n Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, there is no second USB port on the rear, but guess the built-in 250 GB hard drive sure does make external storage a lot less to worry about.
Well! LG has decided to improve their remote’s design, a total revamp in comparison to its younger brothers – should we say? Featuring a glossy black sleek finish, it seems to be a magnet for fingerprints. The keys are large and well laid out in a straightforward fashion with an easy to find ridge that aids with using the frequently used buttons, especially in the dark; nonetheless it lacks backlighting. It houses the play controls like Play, Pause etc., on a raised crest, which can be easily maneuvered with the thumb by just feeling them. There are also nubs on the Forward and Rewind buttons that are extremely useful (provided you know they exist). Again, the main directional pad is encircled by 6 buttons, giving a cluttered feeling, though it does not pose much of an issue. The BD590’s remote can also be programmed to control your television, but with difficult to reach TV control buttons. For example, the volume control button that you are prone to use a lot is inappropriately located making it difficult to access in the dark especially with the remote lacking backlighting. Pressing the Info/Display button gives out adequate information. A menu pops up allowing you change the subtitles, audio, and even the television’s aspect ratio. It also displays info on movie and music that has been pulled off online.
Having said that, there are a few things that requires some clarity or should we say hitches. Like the info on the time remaining on the movie currently being watched, you might have to do your own math by checking out the time elapsed and the total time. Again, you are better off going through the user manual to figure out what the 4-coloured RGYB buttons mean. If you are guessing that it has something to do with colour configuration – Wrong guess; they help with controlling the BD-ROM menus.
Coming to audio options on the remote there is one to convert everything to DTS, which is particularly handy if you are in possession of a DVD-era receiver that refuses to support contemporary audio formats namely the LPCM and Dolby TrueHD. So in that case, DTS is your best bargain in terms of best-sounding format that your system can handle. Then again, just like any other Blu-ray player, the BD590 is also capable of converting audio to PCM or passing it on unaffected.
While the setup menu is almost identical to the BD390, LG has decided to come up with a fancy home menu taking the shape of a floating ice cube design with a white background; looks like we are going to be seeing this pattern on all LG products for sometime now. These cubes take the form of icons for different TV features like Home Link, Netcast, Music, Photo, setup, Movie, etc. The floating motif with the icons bobbing in the watery surface below does give the homescreen a whimsical touch. Well does that mean added functionality? No, not really! In fact, accessing the unit gets a little annoying making the older straightforward version a more preferred choice.
If you fall under that category, the good news is that once you enter Netcast (LG’s suite of streaming service) these floating cubes make way for larger conventional tiles with the corresponding service’s names. Talking about LG’s line of service, they sure have a fairly impressive list that includes CinemaNow, Vudu, YouTube, Netflix, Pandora with AccuWeather and Picasa being new partners for LG in 2010.
The menu screens provide a short description of the different available options, but the descriptions are not always useful. For example, the “TV Aspect Ratio” is merely described as “Helps with setting the TV Screen ratio.” The manual provides a more detailed and thorough description though.
Setting up the wireless internet connection is a literal cakewalk. In case you are fine with the wired option, go ahead and connect it to the LAN port on the rear side. Firmware update is also a quick and hassle free. Disc load times are relatively fast, but a tad slow in comparison to the nifty Sony disc spinners. For eg., upon popping the Wanted Blu-ray, the FBI warning was up in just 29 seconds with prompt responses upon pressing the remote’s Skip Chapter and Pause buttons. With most Java-intensive discs, the main menu was up and running in less than a minute. The robust suite of streaming features works right out of the box. The BD590 also allows DLNA access, such that you can link your system and stream data files – an extremely handy feature for the computer savvies.
In terms of playback, LG BD590 HDD Blu Ray Player is absolutely top-notch getting past almost all deinterlacing tests. The images prove to be of pristine quality to such an extent that it even captures occasional less-than-perfect CGIs. With Blacks being the richest that can be seen on Blu-ray, the vivid scenes bring out breathtaking depth, yet being naturally appealing. Yet another impressive feature of the BD590 is it allowing an incremental zoom of BD movies filling the entire 16:9 screen even as it keeps Picture Quality Degradation to the minimum level possible.
With regards to the audio quality, check out The Dar Knight, especially with Warner providing a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround track (48kHz/16-bit) – dialogues rendered are crystal clear with the soundtrack being supreme. The surround sound is both engaging and natural giving out a sustained and subtle ambiance. Be it Batman’s voice or the Batmobile’s rumble, the quality of audio was full and intense maximizing the subwoofer’s role. The playback dynamics of music CDs are exceptional with brusque highs and natural bass. Well, the only hitch when it comes to video performance is the upscaling trait, which is a bare minimum when rising from 480i to 1080p. DVD Images are warm with a reddish hue and overall colour lacks vibrancy.
Blu-ray Image Quality:
By and large, the BD590’s image quality is fairly impressive as it came out with flying colours for the most part in all important test patterns. While majority of the hardcore videophile fanatics may favour the slightly better Oppo BDP-83, the rest of the high-definition movie buffs are sure to be perfectly contented with the BD590’s Blu-ray image quality.
Coming to the BD590’s performance on test patterns – the two most vital tests, the video resolution and film tests, something that decides on a player’s performance on the majority of Blu-ray titles, it seemed to pass them with solid ease. Of course, it did stumble on tests like text overlay, most of the cadence tests, and the chroma multiburst test, but these does not really influence the image quality so much. If it makes the videophiles feel any better, as much as the BD590 clips whites in the “standard” mode, it passes all “whiter-than-white” signals in the movie mode without any issue. But then, LG’s new line of players look comparatively slower than the last year models placing the BD590 a step behind the expeditious Sony BDP-S570. So to conclude, the BD590 sure does look lightning-fast with typical use, but cannot be called a speed-demon when compared to its little brother, the BD390
In terms of DVD Performance, the BD590 Hard Disk Drive Blu Ray Player seems a little disappointing. In any case, it did pass the 2:2 resolution test with the processing taking a considerably long time (in comparison to the Oppo) to kick start and expel the moiré. Yet again, we will give it a go over the Sony BDP-S570 for performing better in terms of handling alcove video content; nevertheless it would come as no surprise to see videophile buffs favour the Oppo BDP-83 in terms of DVD image quality.
Streaming Video Image Quality:
There is nothing much to complain on Netflix streaming on the BD590, it in fact gives an edge over the Sony BDP-S570, which supposedly has some hitch when it comes to streaming image.
BD playback sure is impressive in the BD590 with its resolution being more than adequate, although you might have to go for a 1080p resolution from the menu for the first time, with the program not equipped enough to seek optimal resolution. A word of caution though for the videophiles – the BD590 is prone to clip whites in “Standard” mode, but guess if you are not a real stickler it should not really influence your decision on buying the player, which is available for a street price of £156.
Similar to most contemporary Blu-ray players, the BD590 comes equipped with onboard decoding rendering high-resolution DTS and Dolby formats. The sound quality or should we say sound transference, to be more precise, to an amplifier can be rated outstanding. Along with performing well with transferring surround sound (5.1) to your audio system, it does a more than decent task of reproducing low quality sound, like majority of the YouTube videos, for instance. The BD590 manages to capture every quaint crackle or pop from any old renditions. Also it plays almost all prevalent audio formats, like CD, CD-R, and CD R/W. Nevertheless, if you are looking at playing your DVD-Audio or SACD discs, guess you have to look out for options, as they are not supported. Yeah! Welcome to “cutting edge technology”.
Speaking of networking, the BD590 is a blend of wow-smarto! Online streaming continues to be LG’s major Pro in their Blu-ray lineup. The BD590 comes with an in-built high-speed Wi-fi boasting of an 802.11n speed. Of course, the internet services list looks impressive, a combination of free and paid – CinemaNow, Netflix, Vudu comes with a fee; Picasa, YouTube, Pandora and AccuWeather comes free. With streaming services being a compelling add-on in any electronic device, consumers are treating Netflix almost as a default power cord. The video quality of Netflix streaming in LG looks to be on par with the TiVo Series 3 DVR, though it takes about 5 seconds or longer to begin a title.
Well the Netcast features remain the same as in last year’s – YouTube, Netflix and Pandora with the addition of Vudu, Picasa and AccuWeather. Vudu is considered the major addition with it providing a pay-per-view option for movie-watching supplementing Netflix’s subscription. Looks like Vudu is a wise alternative to Amazon Video on Demand with its HDX streaming titles having a staunch resemblance to an actual Blu-ray title. Yet another advantage would be the built-in hard drive that allows storing Vudu Movies that were purchased locally – this means better rewind and fast-forwarding and more dependable playback. With Vudu’s DRM polices prohibiting such storage and the rising prices of Vudu movies, this definitely is a big plus.
Check out this new feature that LG has on offer similar to the PlayStation 3 – allowing you to add films to your Netflix queue without the need to venture onto your computer. There are several options made available on the tabbed interface, which goes on to include Comedy, New Arrival, TV etc., which can be immediately streamed or added to your Instant Queue. Of course, it offers no search function, but then with each tab offering 100 titles, if anything more, there has to be something that is worth watching. As much as there are keyboards and mouse being available for players like the BD590, they do not accompany the product. Performing a search on YouTube, for example, is painstaking as you might have to click each letter out via a virtual keyboard. Thankfully, the respective interfaces memorise their login sequences session after session.
The much hyped about integrated HDD:
So for those of you who are wondering why on earth does a Blu-ray player require a 250GB hard drive? Well, for starters, it helps with storing your purchased VUDU files to the drive, as mentioned above. Now VUDU works based on “cloud computing” wherein every content, be it rented or owned, gets streamed online. Nevertheless, the drive is used to transfer files from CDs or USBs thereby copying music, movies or photos onto the drive thus enabling easy playback. Now the on-screen display allows both easy recall of specific files or playback an entire folder/contents in the drive, thus turning your Blu-ray into a media server that an entire family can enjoy. Also data can traverse both ways with transferring files from the hard drive to an attached USB stick. With transferring files to the internal drive, you are given the option of creating folders and organizing files (left to your discretion) by the on-screen menu.
This is the best ever feature of the BD590 – ability to directly rip CDs onto the hard drive. On popping in a CD, the BD590 gets to work right away with instant download of metadata – Album, Artist, Title, and Track number/order that is obtained from the Gracenote Service. Better still, the BD590 allows you to listen to the CD even as it rips, meaning CD ripping cannot get any better. The automatic tagging of Gracenote is absolutely flawless even with obscure titles. Upon pressing the info button, out pops the option to archive CDs allowing you to choose your tracks/bit rate – loseless or 128, 192, 320Kbps. Well, we endorse the lossless option, especially with majority of the music buffs possessing small CD collections, such that it does not compromise on the audio quality. Post ripping, you can access your music by choosing music option in the main menu and then choosing HDD.
Any day listening to music played directly from the hard disk is way better than streaming the same over a network that is put through buffering and dropouts – even if this means being called old fashioned. Well you might come across some grouses with the UI during navigating the ripped music, leaving you with want of more options in customizing and handling your music collection. Then again, it is never easy to find your way out through anything for that matter, especially with gadgets, isn’t it? Now, if you have already ripped a set of songs on your PC, the BD590 also allows you to copy such digital music from a networked PC. If you are looking at importing all at once, just select the “all music” options, select all and copy them. There is also the option to copy album-to-album – a pretty wise option that saves you the hassle of re-ripping your songs.
Well, to conclude, the BD590 is not for a digital audio buff, whose first preference would obviously be the Squeezebox or Sonos for their dedicated network streaming of music, but instead it is for those non-tech-savvies, who are happy with simple CD ripping in a hassle free manner.
DLNA compliant Player:
The BD590 is a DLNA complaint player i.e., if you have a compatible media server or Windows PC in order to stream music, photos or movie. Well, there is no denying that this definitely is a great feature, but similar to any other Windows-centric technology there is a mile long of exceptions and caveats. That means your success rate can vary based on your experience and how your files are encoded. LG has taken care of this issue too, i.e., for those of you lacking proper software, the spinner comes with the Nero MediaHome 4 Essentials CD that helps to import your system-based media files to the player. We also appreciate the fact that the BD590 contains all third party network services. In fact it particularly pleases to know that it includes the all new Netflix browser, which actually allows you to pick new video content and add the same to your queue as against other systems that does allow access, but requires logging through a PC, if you wish to add additional TV soaps or movies.|
Nevertheless, the following are some of user’s grouses against the BD590 that you might want to check out on:
Though the HomeLink feature helps with loading photos and movie files from your networked PCs, it is believed to not recognise DVD files on your PC. The same goes for AVI files too, a preferred format amongst digital camera video models. Oddly, the network connection is believed to work only one way. Also you are denied access to the 250 GB hard drive (that helped you with recording your CD collection) from any of your networked PCs. This literally means stuff that you record does not really belong to you. So if you cannot create a backup of your archived CDs on a networked PC, then your collection of songs belongs to you only until you possess the unit or until it wears out. It is more like “borrowed music.” So what good is it anyways? There are also complaints about movies (downloaded or purchased from sites like Vudu) not being accessible with the player being offline, nor can videos from YouTube be saved to the disc for offline playing. Incidentally, the BD590 neither supports 3D nor is it upgradeable, just in case you are keen on getting on that bandwagon.
Entertainment Takes A Different Shape:
Make the most out of the BD590’s Blu-ray disc playback, which delivers exceptional full HD 1080p video performance. The quick-opening tray is all set to play even before you hit the couch.
Storing Gets Better:
The Media Library integrated hard drive makes storage easy along with instant playback of music, personal videos, photos and VOD content made available via the Vudu movie service.
Entertainment Is Now Just A Tap Away:
NetCast Entertainment Access fetches the best of Internet services straight into your TV, no PC required. This allows for instant access of TV soaps and movies via Netflix, latest Hollywood releases from Roxio CinemaNow, news and weather with Yahoo widgets, music on Pandora along with the world’s largest library of HD movies all in 1080p from Vudu.
Bring Your Memories Live On Big Screen:
The USB Media Host gives you the luxury of viewing a highlight reel of your long cherished family vacation from the comforts of your living room recliner. The USB storage devices allow viewing of your photos king-sized in the big screen or listen to the evergreen music of the 70s.
Don’t Just Hear, Feel It:
What is a picture worth without an appropriate sound? Great pictures need great sound and this is made possible with the BD590’s Superior Audio Performance, which supports surround sound up to 7.1 channels with Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Advanced Digital Out technologies.
Decrease Clutter Increase Possibilities:
Bid goodbye to messy wires with the integrated Wi-Fi Connectivity and take full advantage of the NetCast Entertainment Access with just about any accessible Wi-Fi connection, anywhere in its range.
Get Your Personal Favourites:
The BD590’s My Media is of great help in terms of streaming audio, video or photos from a networked PC/USB drive straight onto your TV as the player is DLNA compliant. For a full list of supported formats, please check out the spec table below.
As against the avant-garde Blu-ray players, the BD590 comes devoid of a quick-start mode and hence consumes very little power by default in the standby mode. On the contrary, the Sony BDP-S570 incurs an annual cost of £4.56 owing to its quick-start feature. The other way of looking at this is the BD590 does not give you the option of faster load times, even if you are ready to bear the extra cost of electricity. Also worth mentioning is that despite the BD590 consuming a couple of watts more in comparison to other standalone players (owing to the in-built hard drive), this extra consumption is almost next to nothing over a year and is totally insignificant.
The manufacturer offers a 1 year warranty for parts and 90 days warranty for labour.
- Excellent Blu-ray image quality
- Absolutely quiet and slim despite the 250 GB hard disk
- Hi-Def music playback made possible with lossless ripping
- Delivers content fast and crisp across network – thanks to the built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity
- Proves to be a real champ when it comes to playing MKV, DivX, MPEG4 and H.264 video content
- 250 GB hard drive
- DLNA compliant
- Rips CD like a pro directly into the HDD
- A decent, but expensive Blu-ray player with just one gimmick
- Lack of quick-start mode slows down the player
- Clunky menus with occasionally lagging interface
- Absence of 3D reduces the player’s prospective shelf life.
To conclude, after having seen what the BD590 has to offer at a street price of around £150, this definitely is not the cheapest player that one might find, it sure is expensive. But we have to admit that the impressive list of features that it has on offer sure does makes it the best option for someone looking to own an all-in-one media storage solution. Frankly though, if you are not very keen on the 250GB hard drive, then go ahead and save £68 and opt for the low priced BD570 with just the same features minus the hard drive.
LG BD590 Blu-Ray Player – Technical Specification Table
||LG BD590 Blu Ray Player
|Dimensions (W x H x D)
||16.9 x 2.0 x 11.0 in
||BD-ROM, BD-RE, BD-R, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R,
DVD+RW, CD-R, CD-RW
|NetCast Entertainment Access
|Internet Features and Streaming Partners
||Netflix, Vudu, Roxio, Pandora, YouTube,
CinemaNow, AccuWeather, Picasa
|Full HD 1080p Resolution
|Upscale Standard DVDs
|No. of HDMI Ports
|Express Reaction Setup
|Disc Playback Capability
||Blu-ray Disc, BD-R/RE, DVD, DVD±R/RW,
Audio CD, CD-R/RW
|Video Content Format
||DivX®/DivX HD, MPEG4 AVC, HP@L4.1, MPEG2,
HP@ML, SMPTE VC1, AP@L3, MPEG2, HP@ML,
|Home Link Playable Content Format
||DivX®/DivX HD, MPEG2 TS/PS, MPEG1 SS, XVID,
MKV, AVI, WMA, MP3, AC3, AAC, JPEG, PNG
|Deep Colour Support
||MPEG-4, MPEG-2, DivX, DivX HD (DVXHD), XviD,
AVCHD, WMA, AAC, Audio CD (CD-DA), MP3, JPEG, PNG
||Digital/Analog Conversion: 162MHz/12bit
NTSC Hz: 60Hz
Deep Colour HDMI
x.v. Colour HDMI
Component Output: Up to 1080i
HDMI Output: Up to 1080p (24 & 60Hz)
||Digital Analog Conversion: 192KHz/ 24bit
Signal/Noise Ratio: 100db
Dolby Digital Plus
Dolby Digital 2 ch Down Mix
DTS-HD Master Audio
|Wireless LAN (Internal Antenna)
||Wireless Networking Access: Yes
Wi-Fi Certified: 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz band only)
|Hard Disk Drive
||Storage Capacity: 250 GB
HD Video: Up to 35 Movies
SD Video: Up to 160 Movies
MP3: Up to 88,000 Songs
|Audio/Video Inputs & Outputs
||1 x HDMI Out
1 x Component Video Out
1 x Composite Video Out
1 x Digital Out: Coaxial
1 x Digital Out: Optical
1 x Analogue Audio Out (L/R)
1 x USB port 2.0 In
1 x LAN Port (RJ-45)
||Home Link (DLNA Client)
Blu-Ray BD Live
Picasa Web Albums
|Power Adaptor Voltage
||AC120V, 60 Hz
||Detachable Cord 2-prong
||Yes – Universal Remote
||One Year Parts/90 Days Labour