Blu Ray Review: LG BD640

Of the five Blu ray players announced for 2011, only two players were non 3D capable players. The BD630 and BD640 were considered to be low end models without the 3D capability featured on the other three models. While 3D has been the logical next step in home theater entertainment, it is still slow to be adapted by most consumers. Most consumers who have just bought large HDTV are reluctant to upgrade so soon to the 3D models. The lack of 3D contents except on Blu ray seems to have put some stop to the 3D momentum. The BD640 is almost identical to the cheapest LG player, BD630.

Features

Like the BD630, the BD640 is a non 3D Blu ray player. All the core features from BD630 is carried over to the BD640. Essentially, BD640 is almost identical to the BD630. Only true differentiation is the BD640’s ability to use WiFi instead of Ethernet cable for internet connection. The BD640 can natively decode Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio, and DTS-HD. Also, it can decode AAC, MP3, and AC3 for the media files you might want to play via your Blu ray player. Like the BD630, the video decoding option is robust as well. It can decode DivX, MPEG2 TS/PS, AVCHD, Xvid, and MKV without having to encode them in more standard formats. The ability to decode these file format should be a great bonus. As with BD630, the BD640 does not come with the SmartTV platform found on the high end LG models. Instead, it comes with some basic internet streaming contents. With BD640, you can access Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, and Youtube. If you just need Netflix, the BD640 should be more than adequate for internet streaming. The BD640 is a wireless enabled player. You do need to purchase the WiFi dongle to enable the WiFi functionality for wireless functions.

Design

Not surprisingly, the dimension and weight are identical to the BD630. The overall design is exact copy of the BD630 model. The disc tray is located on the left side of the player. The LCD and playback function buttons are located on the right side. The location of the USB port’s location is same on BD640 as it was on the BD630. Having USB port at the front should be convenient for most users. You will need to get an external storage device for some BD-LIVE content that require storage spaces. HDMI, Ethernet, Digital and analog audio out, component and composite video are all located on the back of the player.

Performance and Video

The overall speed and performance does not deviate from BD630’s performance. The BD640’s performance typifies 2011 LG Blu ray players. The boot up and load time is little slower than other Blu ray players from Samsung or Sony. While the load time of Blu ray discs suffered a little compare to other players, the DVD performance was less noticeable. Even so, the difference shouldn’t bother most users.
The slow loading speed was the only drawback on the BD640’s performance. The overall video processing performance was spot on. The more expensive model did not outperform the BD640’s performance. The overall difference between the BD690’s video processing and BD640’s processing was nonexistent. That is to say, there were no video processing errors on the BD640. The video processing errors like moiré, jaggieness, or motion blur were all missing from the playback of two Blu ray disc movies. While there were some video degradation from DVD upscaling, it was not as bad as some of the earlier Blu ray players.

Audio

The audio decoding performance also mirrored the other LG Blu ray players. The lack of 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog output was the only blemish on BD640’s audio options. Otherwise, the BD640 handled all the audio formats without any problem. The MP3 and AAC audio played fine from the USB thumb drive without any problem.

Overall

As with BD630, the BD640’s lack of WiFi is the only true downside of this player. While the BD640 is wireless enabled, you still need to purchase the WiFi dongle separately. For the price of the dongle, you can easily step up to the next tier Blu ray player and get more features like 3D and more internet streaming options. The inclusion of SmartTV platform would have been nice on this player as some people will not upgrade to 3D television any time soon. Otherwise, this is a very good player in terms of video and audio performance.

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