~ To buy or not to buy ~ Having recently replaced our old CRT television with a HD one, it seemed the right time to leave our straw chewing ways behind us and buy a blu ray player as well. Since we have a dvd home entertainment kit already, we weren't sure if we wanted a blu ray player that comes with or without speakers. We decided that we could do without, as I don't feel they really add anything to the overall enjoyment of films. Cds perhaps could do with the extra boost though. Having done our homework before buying this, we already knew that it doesn't have an optical output. In practical terms it simply means that it isn't possible to connect this blu ray player to a speaker system you may want to buy separately. Not a problem for us, but a deal breaker for anyone anticipating a surround sound experience.
Neither will this blu ray player record your favourite television programmes and it can't play 3D films either. That suits us fine, 3D films are still few and far between and I personally don't think the picture quality is worth the extra outlay.
The blu ray player and remote control together with batteries. There's also the obligatory Quick Start guide, which was quickly filed away in a drawer.
was really easy. Being that this isn't a home entertainment system, the only thing to connect this to is the television. For that we had to purchase a separate HDMI cable as one isn't included.
~ Ease of use ~
It couldn't be simpler. A flick of the finger and the remote control can switch between disc and cd, or skip chapters of a blu ray/dvd disc. The control is small and feels rather delicate, but it's well laid out. I found it easy to guess what most of the buttons are for, which is good because I'm usually too lazy to read user manuals, so the more intuitive a product is, the better.
There's a USB socket at the front, for anyone who might want to connect a digital media device. We haven't had any reason to use this, although at least it is better placed than being tucked away on the back and saves having to fiddle around to find it.
Also worth a mention is the actual disc tray. It feels flimsier than I'd like but despite its constant use over the last two months it still slides in and out remarkably quickly and without any real noise.
~ Aurally fixating? ~
The BD 650 uses Dolby Digital Plus sound which seems to be a popular choice with the blu ray players we looked at. Given that some far more expensive 3D players also use this, I imagine it's a fairly good industry standard although as we don't have a speaker system linked up to it, perhaps we haven't heard it's full potential.
Be that as it may, the sound we do get is certainly good. This is especially noticeable when I'm listening to cds, where singers vocals especially come across well.
~ Visually stimulating? ~
The main reason of course why anyone would want to buy a blu ray player is for the better picture quality. Looks wise the player itself is small and lightweight whether I'm comparing it to my existing dvd player or other blu ray players yet despite it's size it's capable of an excellent performance. The few buttons on the front are unobtrusive, and the only one that gets any regular use is the open/close tray button. The others are pretty much redundant as we mostly rely on the remote to operate it.
As with most blu ray players, this claims to upscale the picture quality of ordinary dvds to almost High Definition standard. As I understand it, this is because the number of horizontal lines that compose the visual image is 1080p. It apparently creates a picture with far more scan lines of a conventional DVD image, giving the viewer a much better image.
Having watched many dvd films on both my old dvd player and now via this, I do agree that the picture quality is indeed sharper. My initial thoughts that the improved picture quality is a big fat lie proved to be unfounded I'm happy to say.
~ Worth buying? ~
Technology seemingly moves at the speed of lightening, and more expensive blu ray players or home theatre systems will probably have more features. This is one of LG's budget models and so can't play 3D discs. While this isn't a problem for us, it may be for anyone trying hard to impress friends with their latest purchase.
The only feature the LG 650 doesn't have which might prove a nuisance for any other buyers is it's inability to add a separate home cinema sound system to it, due to the lack of an optical output as I've already mentioned. I had however done my homework before plunging into the world of High Def, so this didn't come as a surprise to us.
We bought this for a very cheeky £65 from our local Sainsbury's. Checking online today, that price is pretty much the standard for online retailers selling it as well. Highly recommended.