Sharp BD-HP52U Blu-Ray Player Reviewed

Sharp BD-HP52U Blu-Ray Player Reviewed

Sharp's new BD-HP52U will sit at the top of the company's Blu-ray line, adding features like RS-232 control and Netflix streaming (via a future firmware update). Absent are WiFi-readiness, internal storage, and multichannel analog audio outputs.

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The newest addition to Sharp's Blu-ray lineup falls at the top of the company's line, price-wise, but still costs under $300. We have not performed a hands-on review of the BD-HP52U, but here is an overview of the player's features. This Profile 2.0 player player supports BonusView/picture-in-picture playback and BD-Live Web functionality, and it features bitstream output and onboard decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. At the time of this writing (December 2009), the BD-HP52U does not include access to video-on-demand streaming; however, Sharp plans to release a firmware update that will add Netflix's VOD service. That release is currently scheduled for January 2010.

Additional Resources
• Read full 3D HDTV reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com
• Read over 100 other professional Blu-ray player reviews from Sony, Panasonic, Vizio, and others.
• Check out the Sony page on the Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray player

In terms of video outputs, you get HDMI, component video, and composite video (no S-video). This player supports both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 output resolutions via HDMI. The BD-HP52U includes Sharp's AQUOS Pure mode; when you connect the player to a Sharp AQUOS TV via HDMI, it automatically adjusts the image's color base to best suit the TV and switches the TV to the Dot by Dot aspect ratio (for zero overscan). Audio outputs include HDMI, optical digital (no coaxial), and stereo analog. As I mentioned, the BD-HP52U has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. The player lacks multichannel analog audio outputs, so the only way to pass decoded high-resolution audio formats is via HDMI.

The BD-HP52U's disc drive supports BD, DVD, CD audio, AVCHD, MP3, and JPEG playback. The back panel features an Ethernet port for access to BD-Live Web content; this player does not have built-in wireless network connectivity. The BD-HP52U lacks internal memory, so the addition of an external storage device is required to download BD-Live features; a back-panel USB port is provided for this purpose. The USB port also supports MP3/JPEG playback. The BD-HP52U includes an RS-232 port for integration into an advanced control system.

Read about the high points and the low points of the Sharp BD-HP52U on Page 2.

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High Points
• The BD-HP52U supports 1080p/24 playback of Blu-ray discs.
• The player has internal Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and can pass these formats in bitstream form over HDMI. 
• It supports BD-Live Web content and can play picture-in-picture bonus content.
• A soon-to-be-released firmware update will enable Netflix video-on-demand.
• An RS-232 port is included, which is rare at this price point.

Low Points
• The BD-HP52U lacks multichannel analog audio outputs, so it's not the best choice for someone who owns an older, non-HDMI A/V receiver.
• The player lacks internal memory, so you must add your own USB storage device. 
• This player does not offer a wireless option for connection to your home network.

Conclusion
The BD-HP52U has the Blu-ray essentials we like to see, including BD-Live support, 1080p/24 video, and high-resolution audio decoding. The upcoming addition of Netflix video-on-demand will make this player more competitive with sub-$300 models from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic. However, this model still lacks perks like wireless network connectivity and onboard memory that you can find in other models around this price point. If you're not interested in the Netflixfeature, you might consider the less-expensive BD-HP22U, which has similar Blu-ray features and adds 2GB of onboard storage for BD-Live.

Additional Resources
• Read full 3D HDTV reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com
• Read over 100 other professional Blu-ray player reviews from Sony, Panasonic, Vizio, and others.
• Check out the Sony page on the Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray player

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