Reviews

Review: LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

LG UP970
It took a while before LG put its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player on the market, but here it is. The LG UP970 is also one of the few players with support for Dolby Vision.
4.5/5 - (364 votes)

It took a while before LG put its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player on the market, but here it is. The LG UP970 is also one of the few players with support for Dolby Vision. We are curious how he continues to perform.

LG UP970 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD Blu-ray player
  • Connections: 2x HDMI, 1x digital optical audio out, 1x network connection, 1x USB
  • Disc formats: Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, BD-R / RE, DVD-Video, DVD + R / RW, DVD-R / RW, CD-Audio, CD-R / RW
  • Extras: HDR10, Dolby Vision (at the earliest in December 2017, mar firmware update), WiFi (802.11n) built-in, USB media player, YouTube, Netflix, Hi-res audio
  • Dimensions: 430 x 46 x 205 mm
  • Weight: 1.63 kg
  • Consumption: 17 / 0.5 Watt
  • Recommended retail price: 349 euros

LG UP970 – design

The UP970 takes the form of a sharply aligned bar. It is made of black, brushed metal color, and besides a small powerled front there is no single striking feature. A set of control keys is located at the front right. We generally find this a less convenient choice than at the top, but because you probably grab more to the remote, that is not a tragedy. In short, for his design you do not get this player in the house.

The player is also very light in construction, but with most disks he does his work in complete silence. With a single test disc he created a slight humming sound (caused by the fast rotating disc). That can occur, but was already very exceptional in our tests.

Connections

The LG has two HDMI connections. If you only connect the player to your television, HDMI 1 is all you need for image and sound. Do you have an older AV receiver or soundbar that is not compatible with HDR? Then connect HDMI 1 directly to the television for picture, and along HDMI 2 you send the sound to your audio solution. An optical digital output for audio is also available. There is also a wired and wireless network, and a USB connection at the front.

The player does not have Bluetooth options or Miracast.

LG UP970 – ease of use

LG remains for its players at its classic interface. No WebOS in other words, a choice that we regret somewhat. But there are also benefits. The Home screen is very simple, and with icons for Video, Photo, Music, Apps and settings you are quickly where you need to be.

The interface also navigates lightning fast. The UP970 quickly ranks among the fastest players we already had in-house. Both for startup, navigation, and through your content, he is really very fluent.

The settings are very simple and offer only the most necessary. The LG also positions itself more as a device for the average user, who does not want total control over all possible options, but just expects the business to work.

With the default settings for images, the player will have the best picture in almost all cases. The same applies to the audio settings where you may only switch off the DRC setting if you do not want the player to adjust the dynamic range of the audio on some disks. Nevertheless, we feel that there is no reliable info screen as we find it with competitors and on which you can check which signal is being executed. Because of the limited possibilities at the institutions and the lack of that information you really feel in the dark when something would go wrong.

Remote control

The remote control is compact, but not too small. The playback keys are nicely central, and can even be recognized in the dark, because they are clearly higher than the rest. Also the d-pad and the surrounding keys are easily accessible.

There are no keys to directly select a different soundtrack or subtitle, which should be done via an option menu, as with most remotes nowadays.

LG UP970 – features

With the feature list, it quickly becomes clear that you also have to make some concessions for the low price of this player. As ‘Premium apps’ only Netflix and YouTube are available. There is no app store, so those two are the full range. They both deliver Ultra HD and HDR. Whether the LG also gets Amazon Video later, they did not tell us, but the chance seems small. And it does not stay with those limitations. The media player only reads media from disk, USB, or MTP device (a smartphone). There is no DLNA player provided. That is a striking decision, especially for a player who still counts among the better models. The UP970 can therefore absolutely not take the place of a typical, very versatile disc and media player.

The USB media player is very complete. He effortlessly played all of our test files, both in Full HD and Ultra HD and even in HDR, including subtitles in all possible formats. Only support for (the older) Divx is missing, but the xvid variant is usable. The audio player is also very versatile, which, besides the classic formats, also plays FLAC (including hi-res versions) and ALAC.

On the audio surface, the player is equipped with Dolby Digital True HD and DTS HD Master Audio. All these formats, and their predecessors, can be sent in bit stream or decoded to PCM. For older sound solutions, he can recode the soundtrack to DTS.

LG UP970 – Image quality

The image quality of the UP970 is generally excellent, but it sometimes went wrong when deinterlacing and detecting various video and film framerates. In some cases we could see pronounced comb effects, which disappeared completely on the same fragment in a subsequent viewing session. In some cases, the problem disappeared when we switched the output to 50 Hz instead of the default setting of 24 Hz, but we did not succeed in drawing a line in what went wrong. In most cases, it turned out to be enough to switch that setting to solve the problem. We recommend to stay at the default 24 Hz and only switch over in case of problems.

LG UP970 review

His other tasks carry out the UP970 without problems. The upscaling is fine and he converts both Blu-Ray and DVD neatly to Ultra HD. The player may leave some details on DVDs, but still scores well enough. In the institution you choose the ‘standard’ image preset. This guarantees that the image is not adjusted. You can tune in to brightness, contrast and sharpness via the settings, but as always, we strongly advise against it. You make better adjustments on television.

HDR

The LG player stands out especially because of its support of Dolby Vision , besides of course HDR10. With this he is on the Oppo players after the only one who offers this. Unfortunately, the firmware that makes this possible is still missing. LG announced that the firmware that Dolby Vision adds will only appear around December. An earlier firmware was pulled back due to problems.

For the time being, the UP970 is an average player that only supports HDR10. HLG is missing, because LG (rightly) thinks that this standard will be used mainly by broadcasters. And also HDR10+ seems unlikely in the future, but in that respect the player does not differ from Panasonic or Samsung, both pronounced supporters of HDR10+.

The player delivers excellent results with Ultra HD Blu-ray and HDR, but in line with its other limitations there is no possibility to tune the image.

LG UP970 – Conclusion

The LG UP970 is a whole weekday player, and maybe not what you expect from an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. His major asset, Dolby Vision support, is still lacking for the time being. And a number of features that we have seen on every top player for years (network media player, completely smart TV platform) are missing. He is also very frugal in the field of institutions. However, the player is not without qualities. You get a double HDMI connection, excellent image quality and a very smooth user experience. If you are looking for a simple disk and USB player, then it is an option that, after the Dolby Vision upgrade, has something to offer. The official price seems a bit too high, but we find the player at a lot of traders for about 250 euros. That makes him much more attractive.

Cons

  • No HDR10 +, and for the time being no Dolby Vision
  • No full-fledged smart TV environment
  • Limited settings

Pros

  • price
  • Double HDMI output
  • Image quality
  • Smooth user experience