This week we?re reviewing the LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, an entry-level model capable of playing high-definition and 4K HDR 2160p optical discs, as well as files stored on a USB flash drive. Not to mention YouTube and Netflix.
LG UP970: presentation
The LG UP970 player is the entry-level model in LG?s range of Ultra HD Blu-ray players. It fulfills all the essential functions which consumers have come to expect from an optical player in 2017. That is to say full support for optical discs, playback support for audio, video and image files stored on a USB flash drive, and even network connectivity (basic).
LG UP970: YouTube and Netflix
With its dual WiFi and Ethernet controller, the LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player can connect to the Internet. Not without limitations, however, as LG does not allow the user to install apps other than YouTube and Netflix. It is also important to be aware that these apps may be unavailable depending on the version of the firmware installed. After updating our firmware, our test model’s Netflix app simply? disappeared.
Moreover, there is no support for DLNA streaming: impossible to play videos shared on a home network or directly from a smartphone.
LG UP970 : connectivity
The LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player is equipped with two HDMI outputs, the second of which is dedicated exclusively to audio signal transmission’practical when using a home theater receiver unable to handle UHD content. In such a scenario, the Blu-ray player may be connected directly to the display device (TV, video projector) without passing through a receiver. A stereo amplifier equipped with a DAC or an external DAC may then be connected to the player?s optical output in order to play PCM signals in stereo format. Lastly, a 10/100 RJ45 Ethernet port and a USB port (2.0 on the player?s front panel) round out the player?s options in terms of connectivity.
LG UP970: user interface
The LG UP970 player?s UI is based on WebOS, the operating system adopted by all LG displays. The streamlined menu is composed of only 5 icons: Movie, Photo, Music, Premium and Settings. The first three allow the user to choose the location of the video, image and audio files to be played, whether this be a disc inserted in the optical drive or a USB flash drive connected to the USB port. In the latter case, support is ensured for USB flash drives and disks (FAT or NTFS format), in addition to MTP devices (including smartphones).
The Premium menu displays the list of installed apps (automatically), that is to say YouTube and Netflix (availability forthcoming at the time of this review).
The Settings menu allows the user to adjust the device?s parameters, notably for video and audio playback. Nothing out of the ordinary in this menu, which proposes an HDMI video output mode (up to 2160p with upscaling) as well as two refresh rates (24 Hz or 50 Hz). No settings are proposed for the player?s HDR mode (High Dynamic Range), which is thus only activated when both the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc and the display are compatible with this technology. Meanwhile, a firmware update?announced for 2017 by LG?is expected to provide support for Dolby Vision HDR technology. The BT.709 and BT.2020 color spaces are, for their part, automatically activated in accordance with the display?s capacities.
LG UP970: playback capacities
The LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player incorporates video playback software compatible with the principal video formats: MKV, M2TS, TS, MP4, etc. The majority of current video codecs are handled, including H265 (HEVC), H264 (AVC), VC-9, MPEG 1 and 2, and WMV. Audio files are also handled (FLAC, AAC, MP3). With respect to multichannel audio formats (Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS and DTS HD Master Audio), these are transmitted to the HDMI output in their native format or converted to PCM stereo signals (except for Dolby Atmos, for which a downmix would be pointless).
During playback, the player is able to process a variety of commands: switching between audio tracks, changing subtitles, fast forward/rewind (5 speeds), direct access to a precise scene (hour, minute and second) and adjusting picture settings. The latter is limited to four modes: Standard, Dynamic, Cinema and User. The user settings include contrast, brightness, saturation and sharpness, with 6 increments (-3/+3).
LG UP970: test conditions
We tested the LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player with the LG OLED65B6V OLED display and a Norstone Jura HDMI cable. The Ultra HD Blu-ray discs we viewed included The Revenant, Deadpool and Mad Max: Fury Road. We also played MKV files (10-bit HEVC or AVC) in addition to audio tracks in DTS, Dolby Digital and AAC 5.1 formats. Playback was flawless and the response times for the different commands were short, as were the loading and disc initialization times.
LG UP970: viewing impressions
With our MKV and 2160p Blu-ray sources, the image was adequately detailed with no excessive sharpness. Nothing too impressive, but no slip-ups either. The frozen landscapes of The Revenant are beautifully displayed, without excessive emphasis put on any one hue. On the other end of the spectrum, the desert and saturated tones of Mad Max: Fury Road are a true delight to behold, and once again free of excessive contrast or chromatic aberration. With lower-definition sources (720p, 1080p), we enjoyed the neutrality inherent to Ultra HD technology.
LG UP970: conclusions
What we liked: the ease of use, the remote control with control buttons for LG displays
What we would have liked: a more impactful image, DLNA support and the possibility of installing other apps, a Netflix app which doesn’t disappear after a firmware update and an LCD display (practical when playing Audio CDs).
The LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player has no shortcomings when used to view 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and MKV video files. Its key advantage is its intuitive user interface.