Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD Blu-ray Player

ARTICLE INDEX


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Introduction

Without a doubt Pioneer represents the high end of the Blu-ray camp at this point. While we've seen Blu-ray players from several respectable hardware companies already, I don't think any of them carry the clout that Pioneer does with home theater enthusiasts like the Elite line. Pioneer Elite has a solid reputation when it comes to DVD playback and I was excited to finally have the opportunity to review one of their higher end Blu-ray players.

For this review I was lucky enough to get their newest Blu-ray offering, the BDP-95FD. This is Pioneer's third Blu-ray player and one of the most expensive and full featured players on the market today.

Specifications

  • Codecs: Blu-ray, DVD-V, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, CD, CD-R, CD-RW
  • Bitstream support of all advanced audio codecs
  • Internal decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD and PCM
  • Microsoft "Plays for Sure" certified
  • Outputs: Composite, S-Video, Component Video,HDMI 1.3a
  • 480i/480p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24
  • Dimensions: 16.54"W x 4.06"H x 13.9"D
  • MSRP: $999.00 USA

Pioneer Elite

The Build

The BDP-95FD shares a lot of its form and features with the previous Elite player, the 94FD. Both have a style and stature that is hard to match in the next generation player market. At this price point you would expect top quality build and no one is demonstrating that more than Pioneer.

The 95FD has a very attractive form and finish that reminds me more of a flagship player than any other Blu-ray player I've used to date. The front panel has an attractive gloss black panel that is typical of what you'd see from other products in the Elite line. Unlike the majority of the Blu-ray players I've used so far the Elite's components, all the way down to the buttons, have a more refined feel to them with nice rugged construction points. Nothing here feels like cheap plastic.

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The player is a bit taller than the average player. The disc tray is hidden by a small drop down door on the upper left side and the display is on the upper right. All of the basic user controls are along the bottom right hand side. The layout is very clean and regal looking. A big plus is the ability to dim the entire front panel all the way until it is off. It even remembers this setting for future use, an issue I've seen with several other HD players on the market.

From the front panel you can chose whatever output resolution you want. There are also small indicators for what the player is doing at the moment including when it's accessing your personal network.

The back panel is similar to other designs but with a few touches to set it apart. All of the connections are gold plated, giving a slightly higher end feel to the piece. You'll find the customary HDMI, Component Video, S-Video and Composite Video connections. There are also TOSLINK and digital coaxial connections along with a 5.1 analog audio output. This player conforms to the HDMI 1.3a spec allowing for deep color support (not used for Blu-ray playback) and full bitstream output for all audio formats including all of the new advanced audio codecs. The back panel also features a LAN connection allowing the 95FD to tap into your home media network and access music and pictures.

I was a bit disappointed to see that the 95 only sports a 5.1 analog outputs. So far Panasonic is the only manufacturer to offer a full 7.1 analog output. This is required if you want to get the most out of Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks or other 7.1 discrete soundtracks from Blu-ray via an analog output. These soundtracks are supported in their full form via the HDMI output. I was also hoping that we might see this player support the 2.0 spec of the Blu-ray format allowing for "BD-Live" features later down the line. Unfortunately I've been told that this model will not support this feature.