At this point, it's pretty easy to buy a Blu-ray player. The days of pricey players lacking some critical feature are long gone, for the most part. Oh, sure -- expensive machines are out there, if you want one. However, you can now pick up a feature-packed player with 3D capabilities, WiFi streaming and all the latest codec support for under $100.
But there are still plenty of people out there who want more - perhaps better video or audio performance, better build quality, a more exclusive brand name - and a bargain Blu-ray player just won't do. For those people, Pioneer Electronics has its Elite brand and the Elite BDP-62FD Blu-ray 3D player.
When it comes to this particular model, you aren't just paying for the Elite brand name. The BDP-62FD also offers up a slew of playback options. Being that this is a universal player, it can do all the usual disc formats: 2D and 3D Blu-ray, DVD and CD, but it also includes support for SACD and DVD-A discs. It also includes DLNA streaming support as well as access to Netflix, YouTube, Picasa and Pandora streaming out of the box. One of the most drool-worthy features is probably the player's Qdeo video processor. However, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Let's talk about...
Out of the box, the BDP-62FD is a bit of a beast. It weighs about 6 pounds and measures 3.3-by-17.1-by-9.5 inches. This may not seem like a whole lot on paper, but it looks like a lot in my AV cabinet, taking up about twice the real estate of the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray 3D Player that previously lived in the exact same slot. That said, it does have that on-board Qdeo processor as well as beefed up internal components which account for some of that larger chassis size.
The front of the unit has separate buttons to eject, stop and play discs, a USB port, and a power button that illuminates to a very pretty blue when the player is on. Around back, the player has two HDMI outputs (for support of non-3D capable receivers), an Ethernet jack, a digital coaxial output, a second USB port and an RS-232C jack. Yes, your hookup options are limited (no analog audio or video outputs). However, at this point, you should be using HDMI -- and anyone who would buy this type of player wouldn't accept anything else.
It should also be noted that there's no built-in WiFi here - network connection is via hard-wired RJ45 jack only - but it's an option if you're willing to pay another $149 for the AS-WL300 adapter (you can also just get a powerline networking adapter or wireless gaming adapter and call it a day).
When you initially start up the player, it will take you the Setup Navigator, which includes five pages of on-screen setup. From there, you'll go to the Home Menu, which is insanely no-frills for such a high-end player. The screen just has three simple selections: Home Media Gallery, Web Contents and Initial Setup.
Initial Setup isn't really "initial." It's where all of your settings options live and where you can tweak everything from the audio and the network options to password-protection and more.
Web Contents is where you'll find all of the streaming services available through this player. Don't expect the wealth of options that some less expensive players now deliver; the BDP-62FD offers access to Netflix, YouTube, Picasa and Pandora, but that's about it. Notably absent are VUDU and Amazon VOD. Home Media Gallery will deliver access to the loaded disc (when available), as well as any connected DLNA-enabled devices.
Here We Go...
At this point, there aren't a lot of surprises when it comes to operating a Blu-ray player. However, the BDP-62FD left me annoyed on occasion. More often than not, I found myself pushing buttons on the remote and the actual player more than once to get the job done. Even the tray seemed sort of clunky, like an old-school rollercoaster trying to make its way up the tracks.
Despite some of the player's sluggish behavior, the BDP-62FD excels in a lot of areas. For instance, the load times were exceptional, when compared to pretty much every player that I've ever encountered. My go-to standard-def DVD (Old School) took about 20 seconds to get to the DreamWorks logo. A standard Blu-ray (Hitch) took a super-speedy 15 seconds to load, while a BD-Java title (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) loaded to the Disney logo in about 23 seconds. The super-slow BD-Live and BD Java-heavy title, Inglourious Basterds, took a mere 35 seconds to load with the web connected. That has to be some type of review record! The last of the lot was the Blu-ray 3D Disc of Avatar, which loaded to the Fox logo in 54 seconds. Looking back at some of my previous reviews, these times blew every other Blu-ray player out of the water -- and I can't gush enough about that.
Next up came my routine run through the HQV Benchmark test DVD. The internal Qdeo video processor gave this player's performance a nice boost. The BDP-62FD passed through the jaggies tests with flying colors (and flags). Also, I thought the player performed particularly well during the picture detail portions of the disc. Since I'm paid to be picky, I think the player could have done a touch better during the noise reduction segments, but I didn't think the peformance was enough to be a dealbreaker here.
Otherwise, I spent a lot of time with this player, with very few complaints. The image was stellar on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray. I do need to mention that during several viewings of Top Gun 3D, the player sounded like actual planes trying to take off (mechanical disc noises). Perhaps it was trying to mask the very '80s soundtrack, but it was distracting. However, I'd like to think this was an isolated incident, since I had no problems with other 2D or 3D discs -- and believe me, I tried plenty of them.
That crop included audio discs as well. After all, this is a universal player, which means it allows users to indulge in both SACD and DVD-A as well. I had no problem using either format. Just know that Pioneer has packed in the Qdeo processor for video, but there are no extra audio goodies here. That said, I found my SACD and DVD-A samples to be quite enjoyable, most notably Pink Floyd's "Money," which always offers up some nice morsels in 5.1 sound.
Speaking of surround sound, this player will give you the full 5.1 goods from Netflix, when available. It's also worth noting that I blew through two seasons of Breaking Bad using this player, without a blip. Streaming over my Verizon FiOS was quick, easy and uneventful -- just how I like it.
Remote Rants & Raves
As mentioned, the remote occasionally had me wanting to smash it against the ground. It had a slight delay and occasionally needed more than a few presses to get the job done. Other than that, it does have a few interesting options. Naturally, it has the Netflix button that's become commonplace. It also has direct access to the Home Media Gallery, as well as separate buttons that will swap between CD and SACD for hybrid discs and another for flipping between the HDMI outputs.
If you don't need all of those options or don't appreciate the action on the included remote, this player is compatible with Pioneer's free iControlAV2012 app for iOS and Android devices. It doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of the factory remote, but the lit screen of a smart phone or tablet makes it a lot easier to find particular functions while watching a movie in the dark. Sadly, the actual remote doesn't offer any type of backlighting and the tiny buttons make it difficult to decipher in the dark.
Pioneer has packed some nice perks into the BDP-62FD. The Qdeo video processor does produce a pretty dazzling image and the player has some of the fastest load times I've ever seen. That said, it has a lot of quirks, especially when you compare it to some of the cheaper players on the market. Pioneer used to reserve its Elite brand for the best of the best. The BDP-62FD is decent enough, but isn't quite worthy of the moniker or its $399 MSRP.
Company Contact Information:
Pioneer Electronics (USA)
2265 E. 220th Street
Long Beach, CA 90810
On the web: www.pioneerelectronics.com
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