The LG HR558D is a 3D Blu-ray player/250GB PVR combo with twin digital HD television tuners. The LG HR558D also comes with integrated Wi-Fi (802.11n) and a front-mounted USB port with DivX HD support. In other words, it provides the functionality of a PVR, a 3D Blu-ray player, a set-top box and a media streamer — all in one lightweight device.
[Compare the LG HR558D 3D Blu-ray player to other PVR/Blu-ray reviews on PC World.]
The LG HR558D is a more affordable alternative to the 500GB LG HR559D Blu-ray recorder. Apart from storage space, both Blu-ray players share identical specifications, including the ability to play 3D movies. Other models in LG's Blu-ray player/recorder range include the LG BD550 Network Disc player, the LG BD570 Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi, the LG BX580 3D Blu-ray player and the LG HR598 Twin HD Recorder/Blu-ray Disc Combo.
With an RRP of $799, the LG HR558D is expensive for a Blu-ray player, but the added functionality is well worth the asking price. Simply put, it's one of the most feature-packed and impressive HDD recorders on the market. Everything from image quality to PVR performance is pretty top-notch, with only a few minor quirks to dampen the user experience.
The LG HR558D is handsomely crafted Blu-ray player. With dimensions of 430x49x295mm, it is surprisingly slim for such a fully featured device. An elegant glass fascia covers the playback buttons and front connections, with a flashy '3D Blu-ray' logo dominating the centre.
We found the LG HR558D to be a lot more user-friendly than the typical HDD recorder, courtesy of a helpful manual and intuitive menu interface. The inclusion of a Blu-ray drive is also bound to please — particularly by those who have yet to make the leap to HD.
Our only issue with the design is the location of the USB port, which is tucked away behind the face plate. Consequently, you're forced to fold the face plate down whenever you use a thumb drive. This spoils the aesthetics somewhat — especially if you want to keep your thumb drive permanently connected — but this a tiny complaint, really.
The LG HR558D offers composite AV, component video (RGB), HDMI and coaxial digital audio outputs, as well as a connection for an antenna. An Ethernet port is also included for users who lack wireless routers. Curiously, the LG HR558D Twin HD Recorder/Blu-ray Disc Combo does not offer any AV inputs, which means you can't transfer video from a non-USB device.
One of the LG HR558D's main drawcards is the inclusion of Wi-Fi. The advantage offered by wireless connectivity is obvious: it means you don't have to run unwieldy Ethernet cables from your network router to your Blu-ray player. We encountered no problems connecting the device to our wireless network (something that can't be said of every wireless Blu-ray player we've tested). We streamed a few YouTube videos directly to a TV using the NetCast interface and were pretty impressed with the results. The quality doesn't match a television broadcast or Blu-ray disc, but that's to be expected.
To test the LG HR558D's playback performance, we connected it to an LG 47LX9500 3D LED television via HDMI. Our Blu-ray edition of Terminator: Salvation looked flawless, with superb colour saturation and image clarity. Similarly, the lobby scene in the DVD version of The Matrix acquitted itself well, courtesy of some good 1080p upscaling.
As mentioned, the LG HR588D Blu-ray player also supports playback of 3D titles. When we played Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, we found that the disc played without any errors and that the player's 3D mode was correctly recognised. 3D movie playback was visually on par with other 3D Blu-ray players we've tested, such as the Samsung BD-C6900 3D player. Naturally, you will need a 3D HD TV and a pair of active-shutter glasses to view these Blu-ray movies. Disc loading times were solid, with menus generally loading 20 seconds after inserting the disc.
The LG HR558D also performed well as a PVR. The twin HD tuners provided exceptional picture quality on free-to-air television channels. Naturally, you can use the tuners to record two channels simultaneously; a feature that Sony's rival PVR models lack. Handily, the LG HR558D is capable of recording 3D broadcasts, which are bound to get more common as time marches on. On the downside, there are no options to edit recordings directly from the hard disk — instead, you have to transfer the data to a PC.
All in all, the LG HR558D is an impressive all-rounder that provides plenty of functionality for the asking price.
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