Electronic Design

Sharp BD-HP20U Blu-ray

Sharp’s BD-HP20U Blu-ray player is the ideal match for the Aquos LC52D64U HDTV — as long as you have an HDMI cable to connect the two. This enables bi-directional communication, which lets the TV jump to the Blu-ray player display as soon as a disk is entered, and gives the user control through either device’s remote. The BD-HP20U’s audio and visual performance was excellent, delivering true 1080p output. It can run 24 frames/s playback if both the HDTV and the Blu-ray disks support this feature. The BD-HP20U rear panel (Fig. 2) shows off the array of interfaces supported by the unit, including 5.1 audio (using an explicit set of RCA jacks) and 7.1 via HDMI. Ethernet connection is optional, though it’s useful for remote updates. It can also be used by specialized disks to access additional content. The connection uses DHCP so it is simply a matter of connecting the cable and having a router that provides an IP address to get things working. I wound up using the 5.1 support since that’s all my audio system supports. Nonetheless, the performance was as good or better than any DVD system I’ve used. Initial setup was quick when using HDMI and the HDTV’s built-in speakers. It was just a matter of plugging in the cables and popping a disk in to the unit. Using my audio system required additional cables – six to be exact. This is where a universal remote like Logitech’s Harmony 1000 comes in handy, since turning on the audio amp and selecting the appropriate input is a chore. The results were worth it since the combination of 1080p video and 5.1 audio is phenomenal. I just wish I had a digital system that could deliver 7.1 support. Sharp takes an interesting approach to its internal architecture. Like most vendors, it uses a single-sided board for power (Fig. 3). The difference is that a second single-sided board is used for the analog subsystem while the system board handles the digital content. There are quite a number of connections between boards that utilize the open wiring shown here (Fig. 4). The player is reasonably quick with Blu-ray disks, which take longer to load than DVDs because of added Java support. In some instances, the load time can be a minute or more, but the video and audio results are worth the wait. If you are looking for a new player and don’t have an HDTV, then the other interfaces will provide sufficient support to handle existing displays. Even component video delivers 1080i output. The only problem I encountered was with DVD and CD disks I created. Some play, some don’t — that could be attributed to older versions of disk creation software. Unfortunately, the diagnostic response with these disks is non-existent. But all-in-all, if you are looking to get the best out of your HDTV, I definitely recommend the BD-HP20U. Related Links Sharp

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