LG’s BD370: A Nice Way to See Your Netflix

lg_bd3703When I sat down with LG’s new BD370 Network Blu-ray Disc Player, my expectations were mixed. I had high hopes for its Blu-ray playback, but only middling ones for its Netflix and YouTube streaming capabilities. As it turns out, I was very impressed with the BD370’s streaming capabilities. But while its Blu-ray Disc playback was good, it didn’t bowl me over.

The BD370 was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, and has just begun shipping to retailers. It replaces the BD300, a similar model that debuted last fall, and offers many of the same features. It plays back Blu-ray Discs; connects to your home network to stream videos from Netflix and YouTube; displays digital photos and plays back digital music files; and includes support for BD-Live, which adds interactive features and content to Blu-ray movies. And in May, LG plans to add support for CinemaNow streaming.

Set-up is simple: The BD370 connects to your HDTV via HDMI or component A/V, and to your home network via ethernet. If your TV and your router aren’t in the same room, you’ll need an adapter, such as a powerline network adapter. The LG BD390, the next model up from the BD370, adds built-in Wi-Fi, plus 1GB of storage and faster performance.

The BD370 is a little slow to boot up, but once it does, it’s smooth sailing. The home screen (which you can easily access from the handy “home” button on the remote) lets you decide whether to play a movie, access YouTube or Netflix, look at photos, or listen to music. The layout is simple and intuitive.

lg_bd370_menu

I started with Netflix. LG’s players are not the only Blu-ray players that support Netflix streaming; Samsung and Panasonic both offer players that do, too. Still, it’s a relatively rare feature. The setup process was quick: The LG player fed me a code, which I entered on my computer. Within a few minutes, all of the titles in my Netflix queue that were available via the “Watch Now” feature were listed on my TV.

While the setup was easy, I figured the video would be less impressive. After all, I’d read some pretty poor reviews of the Netflix quality on the LG BD300s. So I was pleasantly surprised when the movies I watched looked very, very good. Video wasn’t quite as sharp as most HD content, but it looked great nonetheless.  I’d thought of the Netflix streaming as sort of an ancillary benefit of this player, but after testing it out, it would be enough to sway me toward buying this player as opposed to one that lacks this feature.

YouTube video quality wasn’t quite as good, but, hey, these are YouTube videos. HD videos looked decent, even when displayed full screen, but the quality was still below that of a standard-def TV broadcast. Searching for videos and browsing through them was easy, though. I wouldn’t buy the BD370 simply to watch YouTube videos on my TV, but then, I wouldn’t buy any device for that purpose.

What I would buy a device for is Blu-ray Disc playback. This is an area where I had high hopes for the BD370, and it delivered — for the most part. Perhaps my expectations were a little too high, but I wasn’t quite as overwhelmed by the image quality as I’d hoped to be. Part of this could be due to the fact that I couldn’t experience the full 1080p resolution, as my TV is a 720p model. The BD370 can upscale standard DVDs to 1080p, too. Here’s I was very impressed with the quality. The movies I tested looked very good.

The BD370 includes support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, so you can enjoy sound in HD, too.  The BD390 adds support for 7.1-channel analog outputs.

Priced at about $300, the BD370 is considered an entry-level Blu-ray player (the BD390 goes for about $400). That price gets you a very good Blu-ray player with plenty of extras. If you’re a Netflix user, especially, the BD370 can expand your entertainment options. If all you want is a top-notch Blu-ray Disc quality, though, LG’s BD370 may not be the player for you.

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