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Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player - Product Review

Introduction to the Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories

Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The BDP-320 offers practical features and good performance. This player is provides native 1080p output for Blu-ray Discs and 1080p upscaling for DVDs. The BDP-320 offers onboard decoding and undecoded bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD via HDMI. The BDP-320 aheres to Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) specs and also incorporates PQLS (Precision Quartz Lock System) for jitterless signal transmission between the player and compatible Pioneer home theater receivers for better CD playback performance when using HDMI. After reading this detailed review, also check out my Short Review, Photo Gallery and Video Performance Tests.

Product Overview

The features of the Pioneer BDP-320 Include:

1. Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) functionality with 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 Resolution output capability via HDMI 1.3a audio/video output.

2.Playback Compatibility: BD-Video, BD-R/RE, DVD, AVCHD, CD, CD-R/RW/MP3, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL.

3. 720p, 1080i, 1080p output via HDMI connection (adaptable to DVI- HDCP).

4. Addiitonal video outputs: Component (up to 1080i for Blu-ray, 480p for DVD) and Composite (480i only). DVD upscaling via HDMI only.

5. Video adjustments provided for Detail, Noise Reduction, White Level, Black Level, Black Setup, Gamma Correction (The balance of light and dark across the entire image), Hue, and Chroma Level (Color Saturation).

6. Onboard Decoding and Bitstream output of all surround sound formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

7. Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS): Provides jitterless CD audio playback via HDMI with compatible Pioneer A/V receiver.

8. Audio output options, in addition to HDMI, include 5.1/7.1 Channel Analog (front analog audio outputs can also double as a two-channel-stereo-only analog output option), and one Digital Optical.

9. USB port provided for BD-Live memory expansion. 1 GB of internal memory is included. NOTE: The USB port of the BDP-320 cannot be used to access still image, audio, or video content stored on USB flash drives.

10. Wireless remote and onscreen menu. Remote IR in for control with other devices. Ethernet for BD-Live content access and firmware downloads.

Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player - Rear Panel - LAN, USB, HDMI Connections

Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player - Rear Panel - LAN, USB, HDMI Connections

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
For an additional close-up physical look at the features and connections of the BDP-320, also check out my Photo Gallery.

Overview of the Blu-ray Disc Format

Blu-ray is one of the two major High Definition disc formats that were vying to replace the current DVD standard in the U.S. market. The other format was HD-DVD. However, as of February 19, 2008, HD-DVD was discontinued and now Blu-ray is the remaining high definition disc format available to consumers.

Blu-ray utilizes Blue Laser and sophisticated video compression technology to achieve high definition video playback on the same size disc as a standard DVD. For a more details on Blu-ray, check out my Blu-ray and Blu-ray Disc Player FAQs.

Overview of DVD Upscaling

In addition to the ability to play Blu-ray Discs, the BDP-320 can also upscale standard DVDs to 720p, 1080i, or 1080p (in addition to 480p) to your HDTV, provided you are using the HDMI connection option.

720p is 1,280 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 720 pixels down the screen vertically. This arrangement yields 720 horizontal lines on the screen, which are, in turn, displayed progressively, or each line displayed following another.

1080i represents 1,920 pixels displayed across a screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down a screen vertically. This arrangement yields 1,080 horizontal lines, which are, in turn, displayed alternately. In other words, all the odd lines are displayed, followed by all the even lines.

1080p represents the same pixel resolution as 1080i, however, the lines are displayed progressively, rather than alternately, providing a better visual look. Check out more details on 1080p

The Practical Side Of Video Upscaling

The capability of the BDP-320 to upscale DVDs in 720p, 1080i, or 1080p format allows a closer match to the capabilities of today's HDTVs.

Although this is not the same as watching your DVDs in true-high definition, such as the results you get when watching Blu-ray Discs, it does provide a better DVD viewing experience on an HDTV, especially with today's larger screen sizes.

Hardware Used

Home Theater Receivers used for comparison included, the Onkyo TX-SR705, and Pioneer VSX-1019AH-K (on review loan from Pioneer).

Source Components: OPPO Digital BDP-83 and Sony BD-PS350 Blu-ray Disc Players and OPPO DV-980H DVD Player

CD-only Player sources included: Technics SL-PD888 and Denon DCM-370 5-disc CD Changers.

Loudspeakers used in different setups included:

Loudspeaker System 1 (7.1 Channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s.

Loudspeaker System 2 (5.1 channels): 2 JBL Balboa 30's, JBL Balboa Center Channel, 2 JBL Venue Series 5-inch Monitor speakers.

Loudspeaker System 3 (5.1 Channels): Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 Speaker/Subwoofer System (on review loan from Boston Acoustics).

Subwoofers: Klipsch Synergy Sub10 - System 1. Polk Audio PSW10 - System 2.

Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player - Rear Panel Analog Outputs

Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Disc Player - Rear Panel Analog Outputs

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
TV/Monitors: A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor, and Syntax LT-32HV 720p LCD TV. Displays calibrated using SpyderTV Software.

Video Scaling Reference: Anchor Bay DVDO Edge

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Cobalt, and AR Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used.

Level checks made using a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter

Software Used

Blu-ray Discs: 300, A Bug's Life, Across The Universe, Bolt, Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian, Hairspray, Iron Man, Night at the Museum, Quarantine, Rush Hour 3, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, The Dark Knight, and Wall-E.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Moulin Rouge, Outlander, and U571.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light and A Beach Full of Shells, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Lisa Loeb - Firecracker, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me.

Proceed to Page 2: Audio Performance, Video Performance, Pros/Cons, and Final Take.

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