There are Blu-ray players, and then there are Blu-ray players, and when it comes to the best of the best, the Pioneer BDP-95FD is at the top. If you're the type that believes in love at first sight, then this might be the player for you, because one thing's for sure, you get a good looking player for $1k. But since looks aren't everything, we spent the past few weeks putting Pioneer's Elite player through the paces. As much as we love it, it's not all good, so read on for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- Info bar is useful, we do like the bit-rate meter, although it can be deceiving.
- Coaxial digital output, for those who need it.
- HDMI-CEC works well.
- Great looking, sturdy player.
- Pause and resume works well, player doesn't shut down too quickly -- we wish this was the norm.
- Ability to change resolution on the fly and display current source and output resolution is really nice.
- We really like the Source Direct feature that automatically will play everything at its native resolution, but still have the option to upconvert without stopping the movie.
- Player menu comes up even when disc is playing is cool, but still can't configure many aspects of the player.
- Option to internally decode all audio codecs except DTS-HD MA in the player, and output via HDMI.
- 24p output worked flawlessly.
- Pioneer screen-saver is slick.
- Power cable is not attached, which is nice if you like to make your own cables for a clean install.
- On screen info isn't layout that well, should be easier to see what chapter you're on, i.e. 8 of 58.
- Software update failed via Ethernet -- forum members seems to indicate this is common.
- Remote is decent, but needs a back light.
- Boot times are out of control, 1 minute to eject from off, 35 seconds to load a disc.
- A scrub bar like the new Samsung players would be nice, since most Blu-ray titles don't include it.
- No RS-232 for automation control.
- No BonusView (not Profile 1.1)
- Price $999.99
- Analog outputs are useless for anything other than LPCM sound tracks.
- Partially failed HQV Film Resolution Loss Test, side banding on bottom corners and top right center box.
- Completely failed the HQV Video Resolution Loss test, as all five boxes strobe. **Both tests are only useful if you are converting 1080i to 1080p.**
Although we love this player, considering the price, we have a hard time imagining anyone other than a devout Elite fan choosing it over the competition. There are many things to really admire about this player, like its rock solid performance and resolution control; but the player's inability to output TrueHD via the discrete analog outputs is a major knock -- for those with older receivers -- especially considering that the Samsung BD-P1400 that costs over half as much claims to do just that. The other big limitation is the lack of BonusView, but since not everyone finds PIP useful, it'll be a non-issue to some, but for other the Panasonic DMP-BD30 is the best bet. That being said, if you demand the ultimate in performance (above all else), have a newer AV/R with HDMI, and don't care about Picture-In-Picture; then this is the Blu-ray Disc player for you.