LG BP420 3D Smart Blu-ray Player Review

Yet another highly capable Smart Blu-ray player for less than a ton

by hodg100
Home AV Review

Highly Recommended
LG BP420 3D Smart Blu-ray Player Review
SRP: £99.00
The LG BP420 is the latest in a string of sub £100 3D Blu-ray players hitting the test benches at AVForums towers recently; including the excellent Sony BDP-S490 and very good Toshiba BDX3300KB. What both proved was that when it comes to both 2D & 3D 1080p playback, there isn’t really anything stopping manufacturers cranking out budget machines that do it perfectly capably. Factors that can escalate costs include better processing for standard definition and interlaced content, more connectivity options and higher quality finishes but what – increasingly - isn’t compromised at the entry level are the smart features; and so it is with the LG BP420. Can LG score another hit?

Styling/Build/Connectivity

We’ve noted some compromises in the lower reaches of the market when it comes to build quality – and it’s understandable – but the BP420 bucks that trend by feeling decidedly more weighty and well-engineered than the rest of the pack. In essence, it’s just another black box to stick under the TV but it’s always reassuring to handle a product that doesn’t feel as though it were assembled at a toy factory. On the minus side, the simple control buttons to the right of the fascia do look a little ‘clicky’, although we quite like the design of the icons. The tray loading mechanism isn’t the quietest, either, and we could hear read noises during quieter scenes at approximately 5 feet but they were largely drowned out most of the time.

LG BP420

Connections are adequate rather than ample with a single HDMI port, Stereo and Optical audio outs, a LAN Port, a composite video connection (don’t do it!) and a USB port concealed behind a flap on the front. There’s no wireless connectivity built-in and we’d probably recommend looking at the LG BP620, if that’s a requirement; for only £30 more, it has to be worth it over sticking an unsightly USB dongle in the front of the BP420. The supplied remote control is simplicity itself and features a brushed effect on the front. It is comfortable to hold and intuitive to use with sensible button placement. There’s all the usual Blu-ray player controls, as well as some basic controls for a LG TV.

Menus

The LG user interfaces are usually a pleasure to navigate and the BP420 didn’t disappoint. Everything is centred around the Home screen that has options for Movie, Photo, Music, Premium, LG Apps and Setup. Running below is a customisable bar to which you can add favourite items to make them more readily accessible. For instance, one could stick the BBC iPlayer shortcut to the front page. There’s also a Search facility that will seek the Video on Demand (VoD) services, YouTube, installed apps and the App store for your selections. All in all, the interface feels nicely stripped back yet connected at the same time.

LG BP420
LG BP420

Even the potentially complex Setup Menu isn’t overpowering in the number of options available and is simplistically split in to 6 further sub menus – Display, Language, Audio, Lock, Network and Others. The Display Menu allows setting of the TV Aspect Ratio and Resolution. The 1080p Display Mode gives choices of 24p or 50Hz and it’s the former you want for almost all Blu-ray Discs. There’s also a choice of On/Off/Auto for the 3D Mode. Audio settings are basic; Digital Output can be sent as PCM Stereo, PCM Multi-Channel, Bitstream or you can allow the player to re-encode to DTS from HD audio for those without capable receivers. There are just two other options, over-sampling frequency, with choices of 48, 96 and 192Khz, and the option to engage DRC (Dynamic Range Control) for more restrained listening.

Features

Whilst the LG BD players aren’t endowed with quite the same level of Smart features as seen in their TV ranges, what they pack-in is still mightily impressive. The BP420 includes LG’s outstanding Smart TV internet portal, which is accessed via the section called Premium and features an interesting selection of apps which are all very nicely presented in LG’s card format style. Among the apps available are BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax, Netflix, Dailymotion, Picasa, Cinetrailers, Viewster and LOVEFiLM.

LG BP420
LG BP420

We weren’t able to get the LG Remote App – available for iOS and Android – working on the BP420, which is a shame, but we assume there would have been no issues had we been provided with the wireless dongle – we were running the BP420 over a wired connection. There was a great deal more success with media streaming, however, and the BP 420’s listed support of MKV, DIVX, WMV HD, AVI, MPEG, AVCHD, XVID, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC and FLAC media files seems to hold true, whether streamed or via USB. The LG Apps store is well populated with a large selection of games, lifestyle and education widgets and the whole package really will smarten up a TV that’s more than a year or two old. We were disappointed that the BP420 offered no access to LG’s 3D video streaming service, however, given it’s a 3D player.

3D and 1080p Playback

As we have said in numerous Blu-ray player reviews, every player should be able to output the content on the discs equally as well over HDMI because it is a digital signal. It should therefore come as no surprise to discover that the overall 3D performance of the BP420 was excellent with the content playing flawlessly. Picking, at random, the 3D versions of Happy Feet 2, Monster House, Titanic and Grand Canyon Adventures, we encountered no firmware issues, added crosstalk or any other unwanted artefacts affecting picture quality.

As with the 3D performance, the digital nature of the content means that any Blu-ray player capable of outputting 1080p24 should – as near as damn it - be identical to any other when using the HDMI output. Irritatingly, the manufacturers seem hell bent on adding picture mode options to their players when they should just be concentrating on delivering products that maintain the integrity of the information on the disc but at least the BP420 defaults to the neutral ‘Standard’ Picture Mode, which showed next to no measured deviation from numerous Blu-ray playback options we have at our disposal. The User option is similarly ‘content friendly’ but the Movie and Vivid modes need to be avoided – Vivid over-emphasises the colour palette, clips detail near white and generally makes things too bright and gaudy; Movie pretty much does the opposite.

Further testing revealed The BP420 correctly output the video without any issues as demonstrated by the multiburst and zone plate patterns on our Spears & Munsil disc. The images produced were excellent with all the Blu-rays we watched showing plenty of fine detail and appearing free from any undue judder.

1080i Playback

As ever it’s with interlaced and standard definition content where the mettle of a players’ video processing prowess is really tested and the BP420 was not found wanting. The ability of the player to detect film content inside the interlaced signal and correctly deinterlace it, without introducing artefacts, is not a trivial task. As we saw in the recent reviews of the BH5320F and BH9520TW all-in-one systems, LG's proprietary video processing is exceptionally good and the player passed all the popular cadence tests on both our Spear & Munsil and HQV Blu-ray discs, as well as some not so popular ones.

We also used the HQV Blu-ray disc to check the quality of the video deinterlacing. This disc has a jaggies pattern that uses three rotating bars and all three bars were kept smooth with no aliasing. The BP420 also had no problems with the video resolution loss test, correctly processing the moving portion of the image and leaving the background free of artefacts. The LG was also able to handle discs with film content that is encoded at 1080i/50Hz without any problems. We’ll admit to not owning that many Blu-ray discs mastered at 1080i but those we do – a Stevie Wonder concert and Gangster No. 1 – played flawlessly.

Standard Definition Playback

As with the 1080i content the BP420 benefits from LG's excellent video processing when dealing with standard definition content. Using the HQV DVDs the player was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE 133 resolution test, correctly scaling the full 576i/50Hz images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. Video deinterlacing results were also excellent, the BP420 reproduced the rotating line without producing any jaggies, even at the most extreme angles. In the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the performance remained superb with all three moving lines being reproduced correctly, even on the bottom line.

The LG BP420’s performance was equally impressive with the film detail test, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. In the cadence tests the LG also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European). The BP420 also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, the text was always clearly readable without any shredding.

It’s all very well the players passing a selection of test materials but, of course, it’s the handling of real world content that truly matters. Our need to ‘resort’ to standard definition, disc based content lessens by the day but the kids generally have to make do (unless it’s a title the grown-ups secretly covet) with DVD. Popping an eclectic mix of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ice Age 3 and The Wizard of Oz in to the player revealed the fruits of the excellent SD processing with each displaying in as much glory as the format allows.

Disc Load Times

There is no quick start mode on the BP420 but that doesn’t stop it being a fairly responsive player. From a standing/sleeping start to the main menu screen of the disc took typically between 30 and 35 second to appear, which is better than the Sony S-490T but not quite up there with the Toshiba BDX3300KB we recently looked at. Blu-ray discs vary on their loading times dependent on the amount of Java content on the disc, by disabling BD Live in the Setup menu, times were reduced by around 5 seconds. DVD load times weren’t as well optimised, with many discs taking a minute before they were ready to play.

Energy Consumption

  • Standby: 0.0W
  • Full screen 50% white pattern: 6.1W

Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Spotless Blu-ray playback
  • Excellent DVD scaling
  • All round superb video processing
  • Impressive build quality
  • Loads of Smart features
  • Clean and simple menu system

The Bad

  • Some noise from disc mechanism
  • DVD load times could be faster
  • Front panel buttons detract from design a little

LG BP420 3D Smart Blu-ray Player Review

Well done LG for producing a sub £100 Blu-ray player that doesn’t feel like it rolled off the production line of a 2nd rate toy manufacturer; the LG BP420 feels very solid, indeed, with barely no hint at its entry-level credentials reflected in the build quality.

We’re not totally sold on the slightly cheap feeling front mounted buttons although that’s a minor complaint. The tray loading disc slot can be a little bit noisy in operation but we’d imagine at the distances most people sit, it's not an issue. Connectivity is adequate, at this price-point but there’s no dual HDMI output or multi analogue audio outputs, so don’t go expecting them. The remote control is a lesson in effective design and is easily operable with one hand.

LG always pay due care and attention to their user interfaces and the BP420 is no exception. Menus are extremely well designed and never throw too much information at the user in a single screen. In fact, the default settings are probably correct for most in any case. Despite the entry-level status of the BP420, that’s not stopped LG from packing an awful lot of smart features in to the player. As well as a whole host of video on demand services, including iPlayer, YouTube, LOVEFiLM and Netflix there’s plenty of diversionary games, education and lifestyle widgets. Streaming media support is also very good and the BP420 generally played nice with a number of media servers on our Windows 7 PC.

As hoped and expected, at default settings, the LG BP420 added none of its own influence to 1080p Blu-ray discs. We checked with the relevant measuring equipment and patterns as well as real world material well known to us and found near identical output to a range of other BD spinners we have about the place. The same was equally true for 3D Blu-ray discs but where the processing gets to truly show its abilities – with interlaced and standard definition content – the LG BP420 was not found wanting either with some excellent scaling and deinterlacing capabilities.

For less than a £100 the LG BP420 represents superb value, delivering glorious HD pictures whilst treating your old DVD’s with the utmost respect. Highly Recommended.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Features

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Value For Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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