Blu-ray Players

Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray Player - Benchmark

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

One aspect of the player that Pioneer did not have to address with a firmware upgrade was the build quality of the player. Compared to the Oppo DVD player I have been using for the last few years, or even the A2 HD-DVD player from Toshiba, the Pioneer BDP-51FD is in a totally different build class. Much larger than those units, the Pioneer features a glossy black front panel that looks very impressive sitting in my AV rack, and was much more impressive than the Oppo player that was previously in its place.

Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray Player

The back panel featured the common assortment of jacks that we are now used to on a Blu-ray player: HDMI, Component Video, coaxial and optical audio outputs (for legacy receivers that can’t take the new audio formats over HDMI), and a full 7.1 analog output for receivers that feature 5.1 or 7.1 audio inputs, but no HDMI inputs, so they are able to accept the newer audio formats that the Pioneer can decode internally (Fig-3).

Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray Player

One jack that was noticeably absent was an Ethernet jack. This means that the Pioneer 51FD is only Profile 1.1 compatible and not Profile 2.0, which requires an internet connection to download content for discs from the web, or to enable other special features that might be made available later on certain titles.

Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray Player

The machine also only contains 256 MB of storage, not the minimum of 1 GB that would be required for Profile 2.0. Additionally, this means that you cannot download new firmware automatically, a feature that I really liked on the Toshiba HD-DVD players as it saved me from having to burn the firmware to a CD for a single use, and then throwing away that disc after the upgrade.

While the features offered by Profile 2.0 might not be important to you (you can still watch the movie or the special features contained on the disc with Profile 1.1 just fine), it’s important to know that the future upgrade path of the Pioneer 51FD is limited by the lack of an internet connection. The Pioneer website also lists these jacks as being gold plated, but that is only the case on the Elite BDP-05FD model and not on the BDP-51FD, as someone probably copied the same page of specifications for both players.

Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray Player

Also present on the back panel was a reasonably sized fan and exhaust, which I worried would start to spin and add some audible noise during playback of titles, but from the time I installed the player until I took it back out of my rack, I forgot that the fan was there, so I feel comfortable saying that either the fan doesn’t spin up often, or if it does, it’s quiet enough that you won’t notice any sound coming from it.