Blu-ray Players

Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

Upon taking the BDP-23FD out of the box, you notice that the player is well made and boasts very clean lines. The player itself is very light and weighs just over eight pounds. The front panel of the BDP-23FD is constructed from a combination of plastic and aluminum which is highly polished to deliver that recognizable glossy black Pioneer Elite finish. At first glance, you only notice three buttons on the front panel. The power button on the left; the play button on the far right and a small eject button to the right of the disc tray. There are four transport buttons to the left of the disc tray but they are concealed in the thin bezel that runs through the center of the front panel. When the player is turned on, the labels for the transport buttons (pause, stop, and forward/reverse) are illuminated in white just above each button. When the player is off, the front panel has an extremely smooth, uncluttered appearance. When the player is on, the front panel is almost too busy with color. The power button is blue; the transport labels are white; the disc tray is illuminated in blue; the front panel display is amber, and there are two status LEDs on the right which are in red. Thankfully, you get used to all of this pretty quickly and the brightness can be turned down or off to suite your preferences. The front panel display is large and is very readable from across the room.

Moving on to the back of the BDP-23FD, the player offers a 7.1 channel analog output, a Toslink digital connection, and component video connections. Pioneer Elite has dropped an S-video connection from the back panel and only included a composite video connection. This trend will be continuing and over time the analog video connections will eventually disappear. The player offers one HDMI 1.3a output connection. There is the all important LAN connection for BD-Live support and RS232 and IR Control jacks for integration with remote control systems. The player includes a USB jack which supports USB memory sticks or a USB hard drive.

The BDP-23FD includes a proprietary feature called Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) which is designed to minimize jitter during audio playback. The PQLS system makes use of the precision clock circuitry in a compatible Pioneer AV receiver to control the timing of the BDP-23FD’s audio signals. The PQLS supports two modes of operation. The first is called PQLS 2ch Audio which is only activated when playing an audio CD. The second is PQLS Multi Surround which is activated when playing all discs such as Blu-ray and DVD when the audio output format is set to LPCM. PQLS is only available when the BDP-23FD is connected via HDMI to a Pioneer AV receiver which is compatible with PQLS.

Another proprietary feature of the BDP-23FD is KURO LINK. The KURO line of Pioneer displays is well regarded in the industry. The KURO LINK functionality allows the BDP-23FD to seamlessly integrate via HDMI with a compatible KURO display and/or Pioneer receiver. KURO LINK provides unified control of power and player operations and menus similar to the HDMI Control functionality found in other players. The unique features of KURO LINK include the ability for the BDP-23FD and the KURO display to automatically select the optimal video settings between the display and the player as specified by Pioneer.

We did not have a PQLS-compatible Pioneer AV receiver or a Pioneer KURO display available during our review of the BDP-23FD, so we were unable to evaluate this functionality.

Features of the Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player

The BDP-23FD is fully compliant with the Profile 2.0 specifications for Blu-ray which means that it supports Bonus View, which is a Profile 1.1 feature, and BD-Live. The LAN jack on the player supports a 100 Mb connection speed, but this will ultimately be limited by your internet connection speed. The player supports playback of DVD-Video and CD media and also supports BD-R, BD-RE, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW,DVD+RW, CD-RW, CD-R , DTS CDs and AVCHD formatted media. The BDP-23FD will display JPEG image files on properly formatted CD-R and CD-RW media. The player also supports WMA and MP3 playback.

As for output capabilities, the BDP-23FD supports the output resolutions of 480i, 480p, 1080i and 1080p. While the player is capable of outputting 720p resolution, it will only do so when the player’s output resolution is set to “Source Direct” and the source is film material recorded at 720/24p. In this case, the player will output the film material at 720/60p resolution. If you are looking for a player to pair with a display that natively supports 720p only, the BDP-23FD will not be a great fit. The BDP-23FD supports the playback of Blu-ray media at 1080p/24Hz if you have a compatible TV and an HDMI connection. The player will also upscale DVD media to 1080p resolution. The BDP-23FD offers support for Deep Color and x.v.Color via its HDMI connection which may come in handy down the road if and when media becomes available. The player supports decoding Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio. If you are using a receiver which supports HDMI 1.1, the BDP-23FD will output multi-channel LPCM. If you are using HDMI 1.3, the BDP-23FD can send the high resolution bitstreams to your receiver based on your preferences.

The BDP-23FD also supports a wide range of video adjustments which include controls for white level, black level, hue and chroma level as well as gamma control. These controls are very handy if your display or processor doesn’t allow for adjustment based on the individual input being used. The color space of the HDMI output can be set to properly match your display. The BDP-23FD supports a number of advanced video enhancements including four separate controls for noise reduction. While I generally preferred to leave these settings at their default, features like noise reduction will definitely appeal to those users who enjoy experimenting and want the most control of their video experience.