Many Blu-ray players are networkable. Along with playing Blu-ray Discs, they can play online content and connect to the media libraries on your home network to play your movies, music and photos. LG Electronics BD590 adds a 250 GB hard drive that makes it more versatile than the average networked Blu-ray player.
LG's BD590 networking features are easy to use and the player has some of the most popular online content, including Netflix, Vudu, Cinema Now, Pandora and Napster. It can play back 1080p digital content and make it look like it's a Blu-ray disc.
Pros and Cons
- Simple-to-use menus
- Good online content: Netflix, Vudu, Cinema Now, MLB, DiVx-TV, Picasa, Pandora and Napster.
- 250 GB hard drive for local storage
- Easy to copy files from your media libraries to the hard drive
- Can rip CD music straight to the hard drive
- Retrieves music information and cover art from Gracenote
- Plays iTunes
- Excellent picture and sound quality
- Can't stream 3D
- Can't change music in the middle of a slideshow
- Doesn't play all file formats that it lists as compatible
- Cannot copy iTunes music to its hard drive
Friendly Menus are Easy Once You Learn How to Use Them
It seems the designers of the BD590 menus (user interface) had a sense of humor and whimsey. The home screen is an animation of ice cubes floating in water. Each ice cube takes you to different content. There is a cube for music, movies, and for photos that are saved locally on its hard drive. There is a cube for "Home Link" to stream media from DLNA devices on your home network, and a cube for "Netcast" -- LG's home for online content.
As with earlier Netcast models, the content icons float above a city street, that changes to match the time of day or night and to match the weather--cloudy skies or clear. Here you can connect to Netflix, Vudu, Cinema Now, YouTube, Picasa, Pandora and Napster and Accuweather.
To further help you, pressing the red button on the remote brings up a help menu.
While finding your way to content is easy, navigating through files on DLNA media servers and computers is counter-intuitive. Where most network media players and other devices use the "return" or "back" button on the remote to return to the upper folders, the BD590 has another idea.
If you want to return to the previous screen and view the upper folder, you must press the "up" navigation button. Pressing the "return" button or "home" button exits all the way to the floating ice cube home screen where you have to start over. Finding a file can result in several restarts until you get used to using the up button.
I never got the hang of it as I haven't seen another network Blu-ray player or network media player that operates this way.
Struggles With Some Compatible File Formats but Great Quality Audio and Video
The BD590 lists that it can play the MKV video file format — often the format of Blu-ray quality video and audio — yet, it wouldn't play. Instead, it would skip on to the next video in the folder.
It also displayed an error message when trying to play Vudu 3D, saying that this device cannot play 3D. Perhaps future updates will bring Vudu 3D streaming to the BD590. However, since the BD590 is not compatible for 3D Blu-ray, it is unlikely that a firmware upgrade could make it 3D compatible for Vudu. If such a firmware update would be provided, the resolution for 3D images would only be 540p.
Error messages and incompatible files aside, whether you choose to stream online content or your own media, or play media files saved to the BD590's hard drive, video and sound quality is as good as the source. Many high definition videos rivaled Blu-ray disc quality.
DivX TV May Make Up for Lack of Hulu Plus App
Along with the other online services mentioned above, LG has the DivX TV app to provide a number of podcasts and other "channels." This is not a hodge-podge of second-rate podcasts for niche markets. DivX TV is the cream of the crop of podcast aggregators. It offers a wide range of subjects — from Health to Travel to Finance —that are like other podcast aggregators such as MediaFly. However, DivX-TV is better organized. Channels may appear in a number of different categories; the "AP" channel, for instance, lists its health videos in the health category and its political news in the politics category.
Other channels include CNET, Revision 3 tech podcast, Howcast, "Funny or Die," Engadget, CBS News and The Onion, plus channels for health, travel, business and more. A particularly unique and entertaining channel is MyDamnChannel, based on its website with select comedy web series. In "You Suck at Photoshop" an irreverent narrator uses his personal angst to teach specific Photoshop tools. It could be offensive to some users, but it does a good job at demonstrating Photoshop.
The point is that DivX TV has a wide variety of quality content and is a good addition to the content providers on the BD590. It has been rare for me to discover videos that I really like on a "channel" aggregator, as I did on DivX TV.