A great-value deck that seamlessly brings YouTube into the living room – as well as making the most of Blu-ray discs
BD Live and YouTube
Quick disc loading
No multichannel analogue outs
Poor YouTube picture quality
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The BD370 is the step-up version of the BD300 and is the first of a new generation of Blu-ray players that expand the format's web capabilities beyond movie-related downloads. It provides access to YouTube via its internet connection, bringing the site's plethora of movie clips into your living room.
The YouTube feature will no doubt be seen as a mere gimmick by some, but surprisingly, the feature doesn't add a premium to the price so its inclusion is a bonus.
The US version of the BD370 also provides access to movie streaming sites such as CinemaNow and Netflix, but the lack of such services in the UK means we only get YouTube. A shame, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
Sadly the BD370 doesn't include built-in memory for web downloads like the Samsung BD-P4600, so you'll need to plug a flash drive into the USB port on the front panel. This can also be used to play back DivX, MPEG4, MP3, WMA and JPEG files. Around the back are all the usual connection suspects, ranging from the essential (HDMI, ethernet) to the useless (composite).
The deck can also output Blu-ray discs in 50Hz or 24Hz (great if your telly supports both) and will upscale your DVDs to glorious 1080p – allowing you to hang on to that treasured copy of Battlefield Earth until it gets its eagerly awaited hi-def release.
Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio can be transferred to a receiver with v1.3 HDMI inputs and decoded externally. But if your amp can't decode either then the digital signal can be fed as PCM. If your amp lacks HDMI then the lack of multichannel analogue outputs means you're limited to Dolby Digital and DTS from the optical/coaxial digital outputs.
Ease of use
To access YouTube, connect the player to the internet using its ethernet connection and select the site's easily recognisable icon found on the player's main menu.
A list of five videos is displayed at a time and they're played in a small box on the right hand side, but you can expand them to full screen. You can't control the clips using the remote's normal playback buttons, instead you have to highlight the onscreen icons, but you can skip forward/back using the chapter skip keys.
The feature's seamless integration into the snazzy user interface, along with its fast buffering times and responsive menus, makes it a lot of fun to use.
In fact the entire menu system is a joy to use. The Home button on the remote brings up a row of groovy icons providing access to different types of media available. It's decked out in eye-catching colours (which you can change to suit your taste), and it operates with a slickness missing from several rivals. The remote isn't bad either, but the buttons could do with being a bit bigger.
The slickness continues when you load up a Blu-ray disc, as the LG gets even tricky platters like Spider-Man 3 up and running in around 30secs. It's by far the fastest disc loader we've encountered and finally lays the ghosts of older, slower Blu-ray decks to rest.
After a run-through of Iron Man, the LG proves itself to be a superb picture performer. The movie's opening desert vista is beautifully rendered, with the deck keeping all of the dusty detail looking crisp and focused, while the sparse shrubs are similarly well-defined. And as the movie progresses it never loses grip on detail, making short work of fine facial features, busy backgrounds and tricky textures.
The deck's strong colour saturation ensures that bold colours look bright and radiant, backed up by a wide contrast range that delivers dazzling whites, deep blacks and clear shadow detail. Iron Man's red bodywork looks particularly rich and absorbing, but it also knows how to handle subtler skin tones, with Gwyneth Paltrow's face looking believably rosy as opposed to lobster-red.
Videophiles looking for the very best pictures will probably prefer the extra depth, clarity and noise suppression offered by the Pioneer BDP-51FD or Panasonic DMP-BD55, but for the money the LG is a terrific picture performer.
Less impressive is the quality of YouTube videos blown up to full screen, which are riddled with artefacts that give them a gauzy appearance. High-definition clips can't be watched in their native resolution either, but none of this is a major surprise.
The LG delivers a top-notch performance with Iron Man through our test system, nailing the busy action scenes with pin-sharp effects, full-bodied explosions and crystal-clear dialogue.
PCM-converted audio also sparkles, and CD playback from the analogue outputs is surprisingly good, although not up to the standards of the latest Pioneers and Denons.
We doubt many people would begrudge paying £230 for such a generously featured and versatile player, even without that YouTube support. The BD370 provides a generous range of features, loads discs quickly and boasts a superb operating system, leaving the video site access as merely the icing on the cake.
You can get better picture quality if you're willing to spend more and the missing analogue outputs might be an issue for some, but on the whole this is a fabulous Blu-ray proposition.
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