Blu-ray players are no longer the expensive components they once were. As a result, the emphasis now is less about the price and more on the additional features that add to its basic purpose of playing high-resolution video discs. Pioneer’s BDP-150 Network Enabled Blu-ray 3D Disc Player is affordable for the first-time owner or one who is looking to add a second player. But rather than the bare minimum of “just” providing 1080p HD video with multichannel sound, the BDP-150 adds online connectivity features to the mix.
A valid complaint about low-priced Blu-ray players is that some of them trap heat inside the chassis. This can result in mechanical problems, such as a breakdown in the drive mechanism that spins the disc, but most often makes itself known by causing the electronics to “freeze” up. That’s not acceptable, even if all that is needed is to “reboot” the player to get it working again. But over the time I tested the player, it never locked up or got hot to where I was afraid that it could damage itself. This might be due to the BDP-150’s chassis being full-sized so as to allow more airflow inside than if it was a compact model. But it’s interesting to note that there is a “reset” hole located on the front where it can be easily accessed if needed.
The remote is full-sized but the direction pad is a bit small for those with large fingers like myself. The layout follows conventional standards with numeric keys, setting adjustment and inputs keys, Home, Top Menu, PopUp menu and Return tabs surrounding a direction pad and a dedicated button for Netflix.
With the BDP-150 connected through a HDMI cable to my HDTV, I pulled out a few of my James Bond Blu-ray discs, including my favorite, Goldfinger, and settled down to watch James Bond run, shoot, love and beat the crap out of bad guys. “From Russia With Love” has a lot of action scenes, and there’s a bit of grain accompanying what is after all a 40-year-old+ film (running Russia on another Blu-ray player costing significantly more didn’t significantly lessen the grain either).
There’s nothing to complain about as regards the display of the color palette of the BDP-150, although tweaking the image in the Advanced Menu can improve an individual disc’s color space. I tried the Full RGB setting with Russia and it make the blacks appear less dense — which is to say that details in these shaded areas were more readily seen. Other settings such as Noise reduction are best suited for playing up-converted DVDs; in most cases you can leave the BDP-150 at its default (Auto) settings and get a realistic picture.
I didn’t encounter any motion blur while watching either — for example, the scenes of outer-space fighting in Moonraker were free of any jitter or visible artifact issues (if a bit ridiculous). The same held true when I played the 3D version of Step Up Revolutions — which is heavily dance-oriented and very fast paced.
Sound also kept up with the video in that it was a quality reproduction free of hiss or any obvious audio issues that could deter from the pleasure of watching/listening to a movie. The BDP-150 only offers a coaxial digital output (no optical output), but since 95%+ will use the HDMI output alone, this is a cost savings that doesn’t impact the user negatively.
There are three ways to play stored content not on disc: the first is to connect a USB drive to the front or rear USB socket and then access the files; access a PC connected to a home network through DLNA (a mobile app can be used here); access online destinations Netflix and YouTube, Picassa and Pandora through the Internet (accounts for same must already have been created). The Pioneer BDP-150 Network Enabled Blu-ray 3D Disc Player must be cabled as there is no built-in wireless, but on the plus side the player automatically configures to the home network once connected.
Pioneer also includes “Control Function with HDMI” which can do such things as optimize the outputted video signal, turn on the flat-panel TV and optimize the video and audio quality of stored content from a PC or USB drive. But it won’t work if you don’t have a compatible Pioneer flat-panel, TV or amplifier (I don’t have any of these).
Bottom line: At $159 retail, the Pioneer BDP-150 Network Enabled Blu-ray 3D Disc Player is a competent Blu-ray player that performs its task of delivering high-resolution 1080p video with multichannel sound well. The additional offline/online content access can be thought of as an unexpected bonus.
- Optional wireless module available
- Supports playback of DivX standard and high-definition video files
- Plays SACD audio discs
- Remote has no illumination
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.