Pioneer has unveiled its first Blu-ray player, the BDP-LX70. The HD machine complements its new 8th generation plasma TVs launched today in Rome.

On the outside, there doesn't look much more to the BDP-LX70 than its HDMI connectivity and Dolby TrueHD support. But dig deeper and you'll find that the BDP-LX70 offers more than the version 1.0 basics.

For starters, it can play back both PAL and NTSC media. It also features an Ethernet port on the back and is capable of streaming audio, photos and video over a network. This 'digital home'-style talent comes courtesy of its compliance to the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) standard.

So as well as Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs, Pioneer's BDP-LX70 can play MPEG-2 and WMV9 video; MP3 and WMA audio; and JPEG picture files. It's prepared to shake hands with Windows Media Player 11 and can even upscale such content where possible.

As the director intended

There's another logo on the BDP-LX70 that you might not recognise - 'HD digital film direct'. This tick-box logo identifies Pioneer's initiative to play back video content 'as the director intended'. It means playing back movies at 24 frames per second in 1080p, the same speed as the film was originally shot.

Films are usually sped up slightly for PAL territories, which use a 25fps system. This slight speed increase (about 4 per cent) isn't immediately noticeable for video. But as the audio track is also sped up, the pitch of sound effects and dialogue will rise a little. In short: a typical transfer of a film, be it a DVD or a TV broadcast, won't sound exactly like the original.

Pioneer is also putting this 1080p/24 feature into its 8th generation plasmas. This ensures that the ability to play content at 24fps is present from the player right through to the display.

Slickly designed, the BDP-LX70 has the gloss-black finish to match Pioneer's new 42-, 50- and 60-inch plasmas. Yet after recent dual format player announcements from LG and Samsung, you might have expected another all-rounder. Especially as Pioneer has made no secret that it has a dual-format PC drive (the BDR-103) in development.

But in the AV market, Pioneer remains committed to Blu-ray. It believes that Blu-ray will ultimately beat HD DVD in the format war. Pioneer certainly has the technology to do a combined HD DVD and Blu-ray player. But, as one source told tech.co.uk, it chooses not to.

Pioneer's BDP-LX70 will be available to buy in June. Price TBA.