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Pioneer BDP-51FD

Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray Disc player

Top-end performance at an affordable price

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The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Review It's not been easy for Pioneer of late, what with the painful withdrawal from the high-end plasma TV market that it had dominated with the Kuro, the best plasma family on the planet. However, life goes on and this spritely little Blu-ray Disc player should go some way to putting the spring back into Pioneer’s step.

Pioneer BDP-51FD

Pioneer's BDP-51FD: top-notch performance?

It'll also bring a level of performance to your living room not previously seen in a BD box at this price point.

The BDP-51FD feels well constructed and reassuringly sturdy sitting on its circular metal feet. Looks-wise, the player scores highly too, creating a dark and brooding presence in the stack with its black livery and little blue lights - just in case you forgot it was a Blu-ray player.

It presents a decent set of connectivity options, including HDMI (1.3a) output, eight-channel analogue outputs as well as a two-channel output for a CD deck. For pre-HDMI TVs, there are component-, composite- and s-video ports. Surprisingly, there's no Ethernet port, though.

That's enough to tell you it doesn't support internet-sourced BD Live content, but a look at the spec confirms this player is a Blu-ray Disc Profile 1.1 - aka BonusView - machine. So what it will do is display picture-in-picture content and some of the other HD extras. Given the price, this might seem a disappointment - other machines at or under the £350 mark, including the PS3, do BD Live, or have a network port that allows them to be upgraded to support it.

Pioneer BDP-51FD

Plenty of ports - but Scart-fans are left out

That said, unless BD Live content gets much more widespread - and, indeed, much less rubbish - very soon, you're not going to miss the feature's absence, we'd say. Still, the lack of a network port means you won't be easily updating the software on board the BDP-51FD, either.

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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