No frills, quality AV performer
Review Pioneer may be a well established name on the Blu-ray spinning circuit by now, but the company's deal with Sharp last year to pool their BD resources means that the BDP-320 is likely to be one of the last pure Pioneer Blu-ray players off the production line.
End of an era: Pioneer's BDP-320
The BDP-320 sits in the lower half of Pioneer's six-strong Blu-ray player range. The feature spec rises fairly gradually from model to model though – the BDP-320 offers 48-bit Deep Colour over the basic BDP-120's 36-bit, but step up to the BDP-LX5 and you’ll get the anti-jitter Precision Quartz Lock System. Otherwise, features and connections are very similar. A good-looking machine – slimline with a gloss black finish – it feels solidly constructed. While the higher end models might have a classier build on close inspection, the BDP-320 certainly doesn't look cheap.
The back is home to a single HDMI v1.3 port, Ethernet, component, optical and composite digital audio outputs, and a remote control input for custom instals. The USB port is for additional memory storage beyond the 1GB already on board for BD-Live content. As yet, there's no sign of Wi-Fi connectivity at this level from Pioneer, such as you'll find in the similarly priced LG BD390 or Sony BDP-S560.
There are no analogue multichannel audio outputs though, which may put you off if you're still using a pre-HDMI AV amp. It's a shame too that the USB interface is only for memory, and won't allow you to load pictures or video from a USB flash drive. However there’s a reasonable range of formats supported on disc, including DivX, MP3, WMA, AVCHD and JPEG.
Special mention needs to be made of the remote, but not for any good reasons. It's large, it's bulky, has ill-defined buttons and it's not backlit. This can make things awkward to find – even though the buttons glow in the dark, but not very clearly – especially since the buttons are black, on a black background. How did that idea get off the design shelf?
Visually, not the easiest remote to get to grips with
It's not the fastest loading player around – we never managed to get it below 1m 10secs. Once you're up and running, the user interface is solidly sober and businesslike and if not particularly attractive, it does, at least, have the advantage of being easy to navigate. Less enticing is that there's no picture-in-picture option when you want to access the main menu while you're watching a film – you'll need to come out of the movie to make your adjustments, and it won't automatically return you to the place you left. Grrr.
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