Home Theater Review


Sharp BD-HP21U Blu-ray Player Reviewed

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Sharp_Blu-ray.gifThe BD-HP21U ($300) is the follow-up to Sharp's BD-HP20U, a Profile 1.0 player released in 2007. This is a Profile 1.1/BonusView player, which means it contains the necessary audio and video decoders for picture-in-picture content, but it lacks the BD-Live Web functionality you get when you move up to Profile 2.0. We have not performed a hands-on review of the BD-HP21U, but here is an overview of the player's features. In terms of connectivity, this unit covers the basics but lacks some higher-end options. On the video side, you get HDMI 1.3, component video, and composite video outputs (no S-video). Via the HDMI output, you can pass Blu-ray signals in their native 1080p/24 resolution to compatible display devices. On the audio side, the BD-HP21U offers HDMI, optical digital audio (no coaxial), and 2-channel analog audio outputs, but it does not have 7.1-channel analog audio outputs. The player can internally decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and it can pass these formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. The player can pass 7.1-channel PCM audio over HDMI.

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The BD-HP21U's disc drive supports Blu-ray, DVD, CD audio, and JPEG playback, but not MP3, WMA, or Divx. Because this is not a Profile 2.0 player, it lacks an Ethernet port for quick firmware updates and BD-Live Web access. There is a back-panel USB port through which you can perform firmware updates.

Sharp has also released a step-up model, the $400 BD-HP50U, which has the same basic features as the HP21U but a slightly higher-end aesthetic with a glossier finish and a powered front door with on-unit controls. More importantly, the BD-HP50U adds RS-232 and IR control ports for integration into an advanced control system, features not found on most players in this price range.

Read Page 2 for The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion

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