- Written by Stephen Hornbrook
- Published on 23 June 2011
I popped in Disney’s Visions disc, off their WOW setup and demo Blu-ray, and started enjoying some tranquil scenes of nature. Colorful macro shots of flowers looked vivid and sharp, perhaps a little too sharp. There was the slightest amount of edge enhancement going on and I couldn’t find anywhere in the menu to turn it off. The edge enhancement was even more pronounced on the test footage of a large sailboat on the Spears and Munsil Blu-ray. Rigging lines created a halo around them that was very distracting.
With some “real-world” viewing, scenes from Toy Story and Up looked very good. It was harder to make out the edge enhancement while watching most material, but it is definitely not something you expect to see in a Blu-ray player, let alone one that costs $299. Smooth color gradients and excellent shadow detail were all apparent on the Pioneer.
I also took a look at the super awesome (a must see if you haven’t) movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This movie has a muted look, but the detail is wonderful. Overall, the image looked pretty good, but again I could detect a bit of haloing around dark tree branches. The terrific DTS-HD MA soundtrack filled my home theater with all the classic 8-bit sound effects and head-banging music in Scott Pilgrim.
Using Netflix was a breeze and had all the normal menu options I have come to expect: Suggestions, New Arrivals, Genres, Instant Queue, and Search. I went ahead and fired up the movie Kick-Ass. Buffering only took about 5 seconds (of course this is Internet connection dependant) and the movie began. Fast forwarding to a scene later in the movie was simple as small thumbnails are displayed along the movie’s timeline. The picture quality was surprisingly good. Although no replacement for Blu-ray, the streaming quality was certainly better than standard 480p DVD. The real deal-breaker for me with today’s streaming options is the lack of lossless audio tracks. I love the pristine sound quality of DTS-HD MA tracks on Blu-ray discs and won’t give them up until streaming offers them as well. Overall, a very nicely executed Netflix experience on the Pioneer.
I had essentially no issues while using the Pioneer. Everything felt solid and very polished in execution. The menu styling is a bit simplistic, but it works and is easy to navigate. The load times were decent and navigating discs was quite responsive. The only major problem I had was returning to the main menu after using Netflix. None of the buttons seemed to take me back to the Pioneer Home menu. Eventually I think the small “Exit” button on the remote took me back to the main menu, but it was very slow and flaky. The unit would hang for almost a minute on the Netflix screen until a grey square icon appeared and eventually the Home screen came up.