The LX01BD also comes with a touchscreen LCD remote control. It's quite large and, although we were initially put off by it, using the remote is actually a pleasant process. You get many more controls than you would with a traditional remote, and you can control far more equipment. The main source of joy is that you get an illuminated and properly designed interface for navigating around the menus.
The only downside to the remote is that sometimes you have to scroll through pages of commands to find the one you want. Generally though, this isn't a huge issue, because they're logically laid out.
DivX support is included in the Blu-ray player, but there's no exciting MKV playback, and high-definition video isn't really a priority here. That said, the machine can cope with AVCHD, which could be useful for people with HD camcorders that shoot in the format.
In our Blu-ray speed test, the LX01BD produced a load time of 2 minutes. Yes, that's right, it takes two minutes for the LX01BD to load a disc and start playing it. This officially makes it the slowest Blu-ray player we've ever tested. Load time isn't the be-all and end-all of Blu-ray performance, of course, but it can be frustrating waiting for your movie to load. We still think manufacturers should allow you to bypass Java load times and skip straight to the movie content.
So, how does the LX01BD perform in all of our other tests? Superbly, we're pleased to report. Picture quality from this system is nothing short of epic. Our test discs -- Vantage Point, xXx: State of the Union and our Live from Abbey Road Blu-ray discs -- all looked perfect.
The LX01BD does a truly spectacular job with both music and movies. We tested the system with our Live from Abbey Road Blu-ray discs because the live sessions test any audio equipment beyond the capability of most movies. Our favourite tracks from R&B legend Mary J Blige showed that the LX01BD can really do music justice, putting a smile on our face that even the relatively slow load performance couldn't eradicate.
The ludicrous demands that xXx: State of the Union places upon an audio system were easily handled by the LX01BD, which didn't bat an eyelid at the explosions in the first scene. The fantastic, thumping sound effects were also clear and powerful -- another cause for a grin.
We were keen to see how the player handled upscaling DVDs. In went our Jurassic Park test disc -- an old favourite for us, because it shows problems with scaling hardware quite well. We were thrilled by the results. The picture looked beautiful. MPEG-2 compression noise was kept to a minimum and the machine managed to pump out a really impressive, bright and detailed image.
Audio from the DVD's Dolby Digital soundtrack was also very impressive. Jurassic Park is an excellent audio test for all-in-one systems because it calls extensively on low-end bass and needs strong dialogue reproduction to lift the voices from the often raucous dinosaur noise.
We were initially concerned that a lack of dedicated centre channel would hamper the system's audio performance during crucial dialogue. In fact, this wasn't a problem at all, and Pioneer's method of integrating centre speakers into the left and right stereo speakers has proved a good one.
The Pioneer LX01BD is a fine system. It's certainly very expensive, but it also performs brilliantly and really looks the part. If you've got the money, and a medium-sized room to fill with sound, it's a great choice.
For the money, you could buy quite a few other bits of kit, including an AV receiver, speakers and Blu-ray player. That said though, we doubt it would be such a polished package, and we can promise that it wouldn't look anywhere near as good.
Edited by Charles Kloet