All this for less than a hundred pounds
What is the LG BP550?It’s coming to something when you can pick up a full-featured 3D capable Blu-ray player for less than £100 and that’s what the LG BP550 is. On the face of it, this player would seem very much similar to the BP350 we looked at in July 2015, only with the inclusion of 3D output. As you would expect, this player comes replete with a selection of video apps built-in, so it could be viewed as a streaming device in its own right and it’s also Music Flow (LG’s multi-room audio system) ready.
Design & ConnectionsAdding in 3D support apparently means an extra 2g in weight over the BP350’s 85g but that still means the BP550 feels very light in the hands. It features a textured black plastic casing with a tray loading mechanism, front-left. The only other items on the facia are power and eject buttons and a USB port that can be used to replay media files from connected storage devices. There’s no display panel but there is a green LED which illuminates when the device is switched on.
A worthwhile upgrade over the BP350 comes with an improved remote control which has nice sized buttons and a well-planned lay out; it’s nothing special and it’s unsatisfyingly featherweight but at least it’s easy to use. As an alternative, you could use the LG AV Remote app - iOS & Android – if that kind of 21st century means of control floats your boat.
The BP550 also features better connectivity than its junior sibling; in addition to the obligatory HDMI output you get a digital audio out (coax) and a LAN port, which can help your cause when you’re streaming HD video. It perhaps would have been better had the digital audio connection been Toslink, in terms of interconnectivity with more devices, but at least there is an alternative to HDMI
User Interface & Smart TV FeaturesMost of the Smart TV functionality focusses on the Premium section of the home screen, where there are a strong selection of key streaming apps available. Those include Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, SKY NOW TV, BBC iPlayer, and Spotify so it certainly has what most people need and indeed use; if they could throw in TIDAL, that would be all my subscription based services covered, put it that way and, in that respect, it puts some dedicated streaming boxes to the sword. There are also tiles for Movie, Photo and Music which can then access connected USB storage or other devices on your network for DLNA playback.
The user interface and menu system is very simple to use and cleanly presented. The Settings Menu contains six submenus. There’s a noticeable MIA item in the Display Menu and that’s an Auto setting for 1080p24 as you only get options between that and 1080p50. In actual fact, if you don’t select 24Hz as the 1080p Mode, it will show 24p content at 60Hz, which is very confusing but the rest of the options are fairly safe at default values.
LG BP550 Picture QualityWe might as well start with the 3D performance which is the only thing that differentiates this model to the one recently reviewed. Unsurprisingly, given how mature the technology now is and the fact it’s digital information being transmitted, 3D images were great with the necessary sense of depth and in your face moments.
Provided you leave the picture options alone, the BP550 will reward you with totally accurate colours and a suitable gamma curve. You can make some picture altering adjustments found under ‘Options’ after hitting the INFO/MENU button on the remote but we’re glad LG hides them here rather than in the main menus. The ‘Standard’ Picture Mode delivers precisely what we want – a bit perfect signal transmitted to the display. Both the Cinema and Video modes taint the colours and mess with luminance and shouldn’t be engaged. The User mode displays exactly as per Standard but offers you basic picture controls, including Contrast, Brightness and Colour, which can be handy if you can’t quite get your TV controls correct.
Whilst we would fully expect the BP550 to output pristine 1080p 2D and 3D images, it’s not always the case that they treat lesser content so well. Thankfully, the BP550 puts in an excellent performance with standard definition content from DVD discs, too, with clean scaling, free of unsightly ringing artefacts. It also has competent deinterlacing capabilities at 1080i with only minimal jagged edges visible during motion. The performance with video streaming services is also highly commendable but YouTube is restricted to 720p. There’s no such hobbling of the Netflix, Amazon Instant services though, with both looking great through the BP550. For those interested in the BP550 as an international Netflix player, you can change DNS settings in the menus...
Disc loading times are definitely acceptable with most titles reaching their menu screens in just under 30 seconds and you can speed it up further, by just a little, by switching off BD Live in the Settings Menu.
- Perfect 2D/3D Playback
- Great scaling
- WiFi Built-in
- Great range of streaming apps
- None at this pricepoint
LG BP550 Blu-ray Player Review
Should I buy the LG BP550?For less than a hundred pounds, the LG BP550 is a great buy with good connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, HDMI and digital audio out, an unfussy design plus an excellent range of major streaming apps; in fact, the LG players are one of the very few places you can find Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Instant Video under one roof. So, for less than £100 it can actually be pitted against regular media streaming devices like the Roku 3 or Amazon Fire TV. Add in the fact it plays both 2D and 3D Blu-rays perfectly, as well as ‘upscaling’ your DVD collection with great sympathy, and we have a winner on our hands. Recommended.
What else could I buy?Possibly because margins are so low, the manufacturers don’t send out as many Blu-ray player samples as they once did so we’re not awash with alternatives. If you’re not bothered about 3D, then LG’s BP350 is the exact same player and costs a little less than the BP550. Conversely, the Sony BDP-S4500 is a great choice for 3D fans without the need of Wi-Fi connectivity. And, for a direct like-for-like alternative, the Sony BDP-S5500 is another great choice and costs exactly the same as the BP550 so you could make your decision based on apps and design, or both.
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
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