Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD Blu-ray Player Reviewed

Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD Blu-ray Player Reviewed

Pioneer's Elite brand represents a higher level of design and performance, and these products generally carry a higher price tag. The Elite BDP-95FD ($999) is a Profile 1.0 Blu-ray player that offers good performance but is currently lean in key features. Firmware updates may come, though.

pioneer_elite_bdp-95fd.gifThe $999 Pioneer BDP-95FD is a Profile 1.0 Blu-ray player, which means it does not have the secondary audio and video decoders needed for picture-in-picture playback, and it does not support BD-Live Web functionality. The player's back panel features HDMI 1.3, component video, S-video and composite video outputs. For HDMI, the output resolution options are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60 and Source Direct, which outputs every source at its native resolution. In Source Direct mode, the player will output the native 1080p/24 format of most Blu-ray movies. For component video, 1080i is the maximum output resolution for Blu-ray and 480p is the maximum output resolution for standard-def DVDs.

Additional Resources
• Read more Blu-ray player reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find an AV receiver to pair with the BDP-95FD.
• Look for a plasma HDTV that would shine with the BDP-95FD.
 

On the audio side, outputs include HDMI, optical and coaxial digital, and two- and 5.1-channel analog audio outputs. You can't bridge the two- and 5.1-channel analog outs to create a 7.1-channel system. The BDP-95FD allows you to pass the native bitstream version of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD soundtracks over HDMI; it also has an internal Dolby TrueHD decoder (but not DTS-HD).

Other back-panel connections include an IR receiver input and an SR+ control port for use with other Pioneer equipment. Even though the player does not support BD-Live Web functions, it still has an Ethernet port through which you can update the firmware and add the player to your home network to utilize the Home Media Gallery feature. This feature allows you to stream music, photos and HD movies from a computer or media server. The BDP-95FD can communicate with your media server over one of three platforms: Windows Media Connect, Windows Media Player 11 or DLNA.

Read more about the high points and low points of the BDP-95FD on Page 2.

High Points
• Blu-ray movies look excellent, at both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24
• The player does a nice job up-converting standard-def DVDs, offering good detail and minimal digital artifacts
• This model passes high-resolution audio over HDMI, and also decodes Dolby TrueHD, if your receiver lacks high-resolution decoding of its own
• The Home Media Gallery is a nice bonus for streaming media from other sources
• Easy firmware updates are possible via the Ethernet port.

Low Points
• The BDP-95FD does not support BonusView (picture-in-picture functionality) or BD-Live (the ability to access interactive Web content)
• Start-up and disc navigation are slower than you'll find on newer Blu-ray players, especially with Blu-ray discs that use a lot of BD-Java in their menus
• At $999, this is an expensive Blu-ray model

Conclusion
The Pioneer BDP-95HD offers excellent video and audio performance, but its features are lacking compared with newer, lower-priced models on the market. Pioneer will soon release two new Profile 1.1 players, the BDP-51FD and BDP- 05FD, priced at $599 and $799, respectively.

Additional Resources
• Read more Blu-ray player reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find an AV receiver to pair with the BDP-95FD.
• Look for a plasma HDTV that would shine with the BDP-95FD.

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