3D is just the start

For a Smart Blu-ray player the LG BD670 is decidedly scruffy, but, says Steve May, beneath its lacklustre facade lies a feast of functionality

JG is currently embroiled in a Smart TV war with rival Samsung for dominance of the net-connected landscape. In both TV and Blu-ray, the pair are going head to head with similarly monikered portals (Smart TV and Smart Hub) stuffed with comparable apps and streaming video content.

A cursory glance might indicate that there’s not much between the two brands. But just how compelling is LG’s Intelligence Quotient?

Style bypass

Certainly, at first glance the BD670 doesn’t look particularly smart. It’s quite scruffy in fact; from its dull black plastic body, to the embossed buttonry, it’s a bit of a duffer.

Rear side connectivity comprises a single HDMI, Ethernet LAN, optical digital audio, phono AV and component. There’s only one USB port and that’s on the front. This is an inconvenience as the player lacks persistent memory for BD Live applications, so you’ll have to live with a thumbdrive sticking out the front if you use BD Live, swapping it over when you want to play media.

At least there’s no need for a wi-fi dongle. That’s built-in and works well. You can connect via WPS (if your router supports this) or manually. I took the latter route, and popped the player wirelessly on my network in as much time as it took me to plod around the soft-keyboard.

Thankfully, the BD670 smartens up its act considerably when you get to the user interface. The main Home menu consists of a jolly line of colourful function buttons, designated Movie, Photo, Music, Premium and Apps. Click on any one of the first three and the player will show you other DLNA/uPnP clients on your network, allowing you to drill down and stream your stuff.

For online content options, hit the remaining buttons. Premium takes you to LG’s streaming portal (which bizarrely appears to reside at the fork in a virtual road, if the background graphic is anything to go by). There’s a fair amount of entertainment on tap. In addition to BBC iPlayer and YouTube there’s DailyMotion, Acetrax, Cinetrailers and internet radio service VTuner. Filling out the roster is some easy-to-ignore Googlemaps twaddle.

Hop over to the apps store and there’s more to explore. Curiously, sandwiched between various colour blindness tests and a typo-ridden Keep Fit tutorial, I found more than a dozen movies, all free to watch. Ultra-low budget indie efforts, they have rather inventively sidestepped traditional movie distribution to end up as download fodder. I don’t mind saying that I was rather chuffed with this haul. It’s like suddenly discovering a film festival on your doorstep. Treats like this make Smart TV tech such fun to own.

The BD670 can also stream media across a network and from USB, with a generally good hit rate. MP3s play, along with album art when available, as do AAC files, although both FLAC and WAV are off limits, and for reasons I can’t explain, my standard WMA test rolled out at high-speed. Video file support over the network covered AVI, MKV and MOV content.

Disc playback

Hi-def image quality is suitably sharp. The deck scrapes a massive amount of detail from 2D HD platters. Battle: Los Angeles looks sumptuous. Shot in a high-framerate HD, shakey-cam style, skin tones and textures pop from the screen. The player also does a reliable job disgorging the DTS-HD MA soundtrack.

Stereoscopic footage has the potential to look equally sharp. Of course much depends on what your display will do to the image before it hits your peepers. At least the deck itself does a fine job. Naturally, the BD670 is quite at home with home-grown, DIY 3D shot in AVCHD.

Disc loading is a tad tardy. The player took a lazy one minute 6 seconds to go from tray to Bond logo, on the Java-heavy Goldfinger BD. Simpler discs load rather faster.

As a CD spinner, the BD670’s performance is functional. With no Super Audio CD compatibility to give it a resolution boost, this player’s unlikely to convert too many audiophiles to its cause. But its overall presentation is fun: when playing a CD, it pulls album art direct from the Gracenote database; it also features Music ID, designed to identify any tunes in a platter you’re playing, at the touch of a button (it sometimes works) As a DVD player, the BD670 does a decent job. My venerable Silicon Optix HQV test platter confirms deinterlacing and upscaling to be of a creditable standard. If you’ve a large collection of SD discs, they’ll be in reasonable hands here.

Overall, the BD670 is a great value net-connected disc spinner. Sure, it might have the sartorial style of an impoverished funeral director who dresses in the dark, but it’s jazzy where it counts.


HCC VERDICT

LG BD670S
Price:
£190 Approx

Highs: First-rate collection of‘net-connected content; solid media streaming
Lows: Dull to look at; a clattery disc loading tray; only one USB

Performance: 4/5
Design: 3/5
Features: 5/5
Overall: 4/5


Specifications

3D: yes
Upscaling: yes to 1080p
Multiregion: no Region B BD/R2 DVD
HDMI: yes one v1.4a
Component: yes one
Multichannel analogue: no
Digital audio: yes optical digital output
SACD/DVD-A: no/no
Dolby True HD/DTS HD decoding: yes/yes
Dolby True HD/DTS HD bitstream: yes/yes
Profile 2.0: yes But no internal storage for BD-Live
Dimensions: 430(w)mm x 49(h)mm x 202(d)mm
Weight: 1.8kg
Features: Smart TV content portal; Ethernet; USB media playback; network media streaming; Track ID