Haier HEC BDP100 Network Blu-ray Disc Player

Introduction to the Haier HEC BDP100

Haier HEC BDP100 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories
Haier HEC BDP100 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories. Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The Haier HEC BDP100 is a very affordable Blu-ray Disc Player that is both very compact in size (less than half the size of some Blu-ray Disc players) and performs well. Besides Blu-ray disc playback, the BDP100 also provides 1080p upscaling of standard DVDs via HDMI output. The BDP100 also provides built-in ability to stream Netflix movies and Pandora Radio from the internet. After reading this review also check out a supplementary Photo Profile and Video Performance Test Results.

Overview of the Blu-ray Disc Format

Blu-ray is one of the two major High Definition disc formats that were vying to replace the current DVD standard in the U.S. market. The other format was HD-DVD. However, as of February 19, 2008, HD-DVD was discontinued and now Blu-ray is the remaining high definition disc format available to consumers.

Blu-ray utilizes Blue Laser and sophisticated video compression technology to achieve high definition video playback on the same size disc as a standard DVD. For more details on Blu-ray, as well as historical information on HD-DVD, check out my Guide to Blu-ray and Blu-ray Disc Players.

Overview of DVD Upscaling

In addition to the ability to play Blu-ray Discs, the BDP100 can also upscale standard DVDs to 720p, 1080i, or 1080p (in addition to 480p) to your HDTV, provided you are using the HDMI connection option.

720p is 1,280 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 720 pixels down the screen vertically. This arrangement yields 720 horizontal lines on the screen, which are, in turn, displayed progressively, or each line displayed following another.

1080i represents 1,920 pixels displayed across a screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down a screen vertically. This arrangement yields 1,080 horizontal lines, which are, in turn, displayed alternately. In other words, all the odd lines are displayed, followed by all the even lines.

1080p represents the same pixel resolution as 1080i, however, the lines are displayed progressively, rather than alternately, providing a better visual look. Check out more details on 1080p.

The Practical Side Of Video Upscaling

The capability of the BDP100 to upscale standard DVDs in 720p, 1080i, or 1080p format allows a closer match to the capabilities of today's HDTVs.

Although this is not the same as watching your DVDs in true high-definition, such as the results you get when watching Blu-ray Discs, it does provide a better DVD viewing experience on an HDTV, especially with today's larger screen sizes.

Haier BDP100 Product Features

1. The BDP100 features Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) functionality with 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 Resolution output capability via HDMI 1.3a audio/video output.

2. The BDP100 can play the following discs and formats: Blu-ray Disc/BD-ROM/DVD-Video/DVD-R/DVD-RW/CD/CD-R/CD-RW/CD, MP3-CD, WMA-CD, Jpeg-CD, AVCHD, VCD, H.264, VC-1.

3. The BDP100 also provides DVD video upscaling to 720p, 1080i, 1080p output via HDMI connection (adaptable to DVI- HDCP).

4. High definition video outputs include: HDMI, DVI-HDCP video output compatibility with adapter.

5. Standard definition video output: composite video.

6. Besides audio output via HDMI, additional audio output options include: Digital Coaxial and analog stereo outputs.

7. Built-in Ethernet Connectivity, with access to Netflix and Pandora Internet Radio. Note: According to Haier, access to CinemaNow content is expected to be available sometime in October 2010.

8. One USB 2.0 port for digital photo, video, and music content access via flash drive as well as external memory required for BD-Live access.

9. A Wireless Infrared Remote Control and full-color high definition onscreen GUI (Graphical User Interface) is provided for easy setup and function access. The onscreen menu is both extensive, but easy to navigate.

10. Suggested Price: $149.99

For an additional look at the features and connections of the BDP100, check out my supplementary Photo Gallery.

Hardware Used

The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:

Home Theater Receivers: Onkyo TX-SR705, Harman Kardon AVR147.

Source Components: OPPO BDP-83 and Sony BD-PS350 Blu-ray Disc players.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

TV/Monitors: A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor, and Syntax LT-32HV 720p LCD TV. Displays calibrated using SpyderTV Software.

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for baseline video upscaling comparisons.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Cobalt, and AR Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used.

Level checks made using a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter

Software Used

The software used in this review included the following titles:

Blu-ray Discs used included scenes from from the following: 300, Across The Universe, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Hairspray, Iron Man, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder, Transporter 3, and War of the Worlds (2005).

Standard DVDs used included scenes from the following: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Lisa Loeb - Firecracker, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

Video Performance

The BDP100 provided a well-balanced image with very good detail, color, contrast, and black levels with Blu-ray Disc playback. This was confirmed on several Blu-ray Disc examples. Examples of excellent detail and color reproduction were the Blu-ray Disc of Transporter 3 with the close-ups of Jason Statham and the heavily freckled face of his co-star Natalya Rudakova and the sequins and confetti detail contrasting with on-stage lighting on the Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour disc. In another example of very good color, contrast, and detail is the opening bank robbery scene contrasted with the many night scenes in the The Dark Knight and the colorful production design of the day and night scenes in Red Cliff.

With regards to more technical testing, the BDP100 most of the tests on the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD, which measures DVD video performance with regards to video processing and upscaling.

The test results revealed that the BDP100 does well on most of the film and video cadences tested, including progressive scan (3:2 pulldown), jaggie elimination, detail, motion adaptive processing, and moire pattern detection and elimination. On the other hand, the BDP100 could use some improvement in suppressing background video noise.

Also the BDP100 did not have a problem converting HDMI to DVI. Using the BDP100 with a DVI input on the Westinghouse LVM-37w3, which required the HDMI output of the BDP100 to be converted to DVI to make the connection, there was no problem with recognition. Also, rerunning the HQV tests, no detectable performance difference was detected.

Audio Performance

On the audio side, the BDP100 offers onboard audio decoding, as well as undecoded bitstream output for compatible home theater receivers.

In terms of audio performance, The BDP100 delivered good audio performance on both Blu-ray and DVD soundtracks When playing standard DVDS, CDs. I noticed no audio artifacts that could be attributed to the BDP100.

The BDP100 produced very good surround imagery and vocal presence in movie soundtracks, such as the opening battle scene in Master and Commander (DVD) which features a very directional surround field filled with cannon fire and wood splintering, as well as the dynamic soundtracks in Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and War of the Worlds (2005) (Blu-ray), and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (DVD).

In terms of standard 2-channel CD playback, Heart's Magic Man, with its distinctive bass slide to the extreme low end was accurate. Also the bass heavy recordings from Sade's Soldier of Love were not lost on the BDP100. The dynamic range and detail in Norah Jones' Don't Know Why, and the depth and soundstaging Joshua Bell's recording of West Side Story Suite were also very good.

The BDP100 demonstrated versatility as both a very good Blu-ray Disc and DVD player and also a CD player.

USB Content Access

In addition, I was also able to not only access video, image, and music files from a flash drive but I was also able to navigate and play music files stored on an iPod (2GB iPod Nano) when connected to the BDP100's USB port. There is no information in user manual regarding iPods, so compatibility with all iPods may not be guaranteed.

Connected Menu (Internet Streaming)

Using the onscreen connected menu, the user can access either Netflix movies (Netflix subscription required) or Pandora Internet RadioNote: According to Haier, access to CinemaNow content is expected to be available sometime in October 2010.

Playing the available content is easy, but you need a good high-speed internet connection. In my area, my broadband speed is only 1.5mbps which results in some video playback buffering issues, however, audio streams worked just fine.

It must be noted that there is a lot of variation in the video quality of the streamed content, ranging from low-res compressed video that is hard to watch on a large screen to high-def video feeds that look more like DVD quality or slightly better. Even the 1080p content streamed from the internet will not look quite as detailed as 1080p content played directly from a Blu-ray Disc.

What I liked about the BDP100

1. Very good Blu-ray Disc Video Playback and DVD upscaling.

2. Access to Netflix and Pandora online content.

3. USB port for expanding BD-Live memory and/or accessing video, still image, and music files via a flash drive.

4. Very compact size makes its a good candidate for traveling or for use in an outdoor home theater setup.

5. Very affordable price point.

What I didn't like about the BDP100:

1. Slow disc load times.

2. External memory needed for access to BD-Live functions.

3. No 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio outputs.

4. No WiFi

5. Remote Control not backlit.

Final Take

The Haier HEC BDP100 is a very interesting Blu-ray Disc player. The first thing you notice is how small this player is, less than half the size of a typical home Blu-ray Disc player. However, despite its diminutive size, the BDP100 performs very well as a Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and CD player. Its DVD upscaling capabilities are actually better than some more expensive units.

On the other hand, the BDP100 cuts corners in connectivity (no Component video, Digital Optical, or 5.1/7.1 channel audio output options), as well as offering only limited internet streaming options (just Netflix and Pandora). However, CinemaNow is expected to be available later via a firmware update).

However, despite some connection and feature shortcomings, I must say that really enjoyed using this player, and wanted to make note that its compact size is great for taking to a friend's or relative's house, or even taking Blu-ray entertainment on the road in an RV. In fact, this player may work well as a second Blu-ray Disc player for complementing an outdoor home theater setup for the Summer.

As a final point, I always mention there are idiosyncrasies that can come up with specific disc releases that may affect playback or menu navigation. It is important to check for periodic firmware updates, which can be accessed directly by the player using its Ethernet connection or downloaded on a PC and save to disc or USB flash drive.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.