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on May 5, 2010
Update 11/26/2012: This review was written more than 2 years ago. Technology move very fast. So this player is ancient now. It was good for its time. I've moved to using my PS3 as my media center (it plays DVD/BD, streams Netflix, VUDU, Amazon, Hulu, Crunchyroll, plus DLNA content off my NAS).

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I am a hardcore geek and have also worked in the streaming video industry the past 4 years. So you may be surprised to hear that this is the first BD player I ever own. I've tested plenty of BD, DVD, streaming boxes, so I know all their strengths and weaknesses.

I waited till now because the early generation of BD players are underpowered (that's why people complained about slow startup, slow to load BD, sluggish menu/UI, etc.). Knowing the performance of that generation, plus having tested the up-n-coming ones, I waited for something that is worth spending money on.

I almost bought the LG BD-390, but that was still too expensive. So I waited for the next gen after, which is the LG BD-5XX series. Since I have wired ethernet to where my entertainment console is, I pick the BD-550. For streaming video, I never want wireless (attested by people commenting on quality, stutters, delays and re-buffering). If I absolutely had to go wireless, I would use 802.11N (not G) and one that supports the 5Ghz band. But that is another topic.

The 550 does everything I need and want. Fast CPU, boot up less than 10s, load BD in about same amount of time (except for a few that has BD-Live and more complicated content). Btw, to use BD-Live, you will need to plug in a USB flash stick (I use a 4GB USB flash, one of those tiny one. Make sure it is formatted as FAT or FAT32.).

Netflix - good UI, fast (I have 25Mb down/10Mb up). So no problem streaming HD. Netflix requires 3.6Mb down for HD. Nice thing about Netflix is that it dynamically adjust quality so you can actually watch the movie. That does mean you won't always get HD if your internet connection is not reliable, e.g. you are using wireless (see why I stick with wired?) Also love the 550 ability to let me view Netflix movie menu and add movies direct on the player (you don't need to go to a computer to add movies to your Instant Queue! This is an awesome feature on the LG BD!

VUDU - good UI, sluggish, there is a lag between pressing buttons and getting results. I kept overshooting or getting wrong choice because of this. Different selection of movies, cost more if I watch a lot of movies (pay each time). So depending on your watching pattern, could be expensive.

Pandora - good, although I don't want to turn on my TV just to listen to music. That's what my stereo is for.

Youtube - good, fun for times when you have parties. Pain having to enter URL via the remote. Wish I can connect a real USB keyboard and use that.

I think the 550 is a bargain for the price. Very happy with it. Stay away from the 3D BD players and TVs. Bleeding edge stuffs, wait at least a year for that to settle before wasting your money.

Last but not least. Make sure you update the firmware! And check regularly. They fix various issues and add new features. I updated twice within the first day of opening the box.
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on March 29, 2010
Let me get this out of the way up front: This is my first Blue-Ray Disc player.

I'm very pleased with this LG BD550 product. I wanted a product that would (a) play Blu-Ray Discs, and (b) let me watch streaming movies/shows over the internet using my Netflix account. This does both.

I considered the higher-end BD570 but decided against it because I did not need the built-in wireless capability, so I got the BD550 which just has the ethernet port, but no wireless (and saved about $70 doing so). I already had an Apple Airport Express behind the media stand for streaming music from iTunes to my stereo, and I was able to configure it as a simple wireless ethernet bridge, so in order to connect the BD550 to the internet all I had to do was connect an ethernet cable from the Airport Express to the BD550. Once that was done, everything internet related simply worked "out of the box".

Blue-Ray audio/visual quality seems good to me.

The user interface is adequate and is reasonably responsive. I have no complaints with the remote.

One thing I didn't expect - the BD550 defaulted to 1080i. I'm not sure if that is normal for BD players, but I switched it to 1080p for playing BD discs.

Since it's connected to the internet, it will occasionally ask me if I want to update the firmware/software.

The unit does not generate much heat, and has no vents in the top or sides of the case, i.e. no vents to block, so I figured it was OK to place my Cable/DVR box on-top of it.

Of all the internet enabled functions (I think this is called "Netcast") I've tried four of them:

1. Netflix - Works as advertised. I have a 3Mbps internet connection and I'm pleased with the quality of streaming netflix video. Certainly it's not high-def quality, but good enough given the convenience. I wish it were easier to search for titles though. I can't really complain, it is good enough.

2. Pandora - This is really great. I'm a computer pandora user though on the computer it will occasionally throw in an ad or pause to ask you to confirm that you're still listening. I don't get either of these when playing music through Pandora on the BD550. I do wish, however, that one you've started a channel going that the interface would show a different graphic (like a near full screen CD artwork, a la iTunes, or any option besides the default screen).

3 & 4. Youtube and Picasa - I tried these out just for the heck of it, and they work, but I do not envision using these on a regular basis.

UPDATE: I recently upgraded from a 3Mbps internet connection to a 7Mbps internet connection. While Netflix was certainly usable with a 3Mbps connection, it is markedly better with the 7Mbps internet connection. I read that Netflix requires 5Mbps or greater to stream HD video.

UPDATE 2: I've tried out the Vudu service. As a new user, they were offering a free rental for a while. I never got round to trying it before they changed the free rental to a $20 credit (which gets you four rentals at "HD" quality - even better). Just in case this is useful to other users here is what I found. Vudu currently supports 3 levels of streaming quality: SD (480p), HD (720p), "HDX" (1080p). What I've found is that with about 7Mbps I just don't have enough bandwidth to reliably stream HDX/1080p video. I've watched 2 full movies at HD/720p quality and there were no problems, glitches, or stops to buffer whatsoever. Of course SD works fine (requires even less bandwidth). Vudu allows you to watch trailers for free in HDX, so that's an easy way to tell if you've got enough bandwidth (if you don't, it will periodically stop the video to buffer the stream). There appears to be an option to 'downgrade' (e.g. from HD to SD) in the middle of a rental if you need to. I think the Vudu HD stream looks better than my Netflix stream (to my knowledge, Netflix sets video quality based on available bandwidth, so you don't know what quality you're actually getting from them). Vudo offers more recent titles than Netflix has, so I can see myself occasionally using Vudu from time to time in addition to Netflix.
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on March 11, 2010
Recently I have tried four BD players which have Netflix streaming capability. LG BD370, Samsung BD P-1600, Sony BDP N460, and LG BD 550. Earlier I also tried Roku HD player for netflix streaming. Except Roku, all the BD players I tried all use wired Ethernet, no wireless.
(I have wired Ethernet in my house so I don't need wireless network.)

I could tell you guys: LG BD 550 is by far the best when it comes to Netflix streaming. I ended up returning all the others. BD550's Fast forwarding, fast rewinding is just way faster than any other unit I tried. It is even faster than Roku! Among these units, Samsung BD P1600 is the slowest. Also BD 550 not only shows your movies in the netflix instant queue, it also gives you option to pick movie you may like, what you've recently watched (even after you removed it from your instant queue), new arrivals, etc. It's just a perfect Netflix player. If you like Netflix's GUI interface, then just don't buy Sony N460! Sony completely screwed Netflix's GUI but Sony's GUI is just too awkward.

For other streaming sources, BD550 has Vudu, Roxio CinemaNow, Youtube and Picasa. Among all the units I tried, this is the only unit that has Vudu. Its Youtube and Picasa application UI and load speed is just awesome. I am so happy I finally find one netflix streaming device that works well.

As for BD player performance. Be honest, I really can't see much difference in terms of image quality.

============================

If you didn't get a chance to try other players, let me remind you that all of them are SLOOOOOOW in loading BD disc. As for Blu-ray playback video quality, actually to me as a normal user, they all perform similarly well. For loading speed, I am not sure if it is because the players all try to contact Internet first before playing (BD link) but I feel it is just way too slow than DVD. Since I found none of them outperform each other significantly, I landed on this LG BD550 becoz of its streaming speed and ease of use in GUI.
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on December 23, 2010
So really not too much to say about the player - it's great - upscales SD DVDs very nicely. Menus are pretty intuitive and response and boot times are acceptable. The extra stuff like Netflix and Pandora make this a really versatile addition to your media shelf.

The one gotcha is the firmware upgrade - it is *extremely* slow. When I received my player a few weeks ago, it was running
Ver: BD.8.31.300.C
Servo Ver: H80235 (H08HIN)

I connected it to the network (which DHCPed instantly) and it connected to homebase and then told me that
New SW BD.8.31.323.C was available.

*Make sure no disc in tray during update* - this caused one of my update attempts to fail.

I very nearly aborted the process a few times but eventually decided to be super patient. It took

43min to download *after which* it took another 32min to install the upgrade!!

This is over-the-top slow.

I have a 20Mibps connection that I can pretty much max out from any nearby well connected servers, so LG should really look into using Amazon's S3/Cloudfront combination to host their firmware - clearly their own servers are either over taxed or under-connected.

As for half-an-hour to install the firmware - thankfully this should be infrequent, but the status update screen should provide a granualar, percentage-complete based progress bar, as, aside from a few wobbling characters on the front panel and occasional colour changes to the screen, it really looked like this process had wedged.

I was relieved that it didn't end up bricking itself.

All's well that end's well - it completed the upgrade and has been flawless ever since.

Buy with confidence!

** Update October 2011 **
Upgrades are now much faster but are still flakey; on occasion their site is completely down, so more a critique of LG overall than this player.
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on February 18, 2011
I purchased this in November (2010) as a Christmas gift for the whole family. Everyone was very excited, especially with the internet features allowing for Netflix, Pandora and more. After a month of "normal" use the device began to act funny. Often when streaming a movie or music the screen would go "pink", then the sound would go out or the screen would freeze altogether. The only way to get out of this was by shutting it down, waiting and then going through the process for starting up all over again. Then the device started to "hiccup" during DVD viewings. Randomly it would shut down and then come back on again. Now after less than 2 1/2 months of use (2-3 DVD's a week, 1-2 Netflix views a week and Pandora music for 2-3 hours a day) my disappointment and trust in LG is completely shattered. With the entire family gathered on a Friday night with pizza, chips and beverages, we settled in to watch a movie off of Netflix. Not more than 25 minutes into the movie the screen went blank but we could still hear the sound. The "No Signal" notice came up on our TV and that was that. Now I can't get a DVD to play or anything. I purchased the LG because of the name and high reviews of other products made by this company but honestly, I should have read the negative reviews for this device more closely. I'm not sure if this isn't such a great product or if we simply recieved a lemon. In any event, there are enough negative reviews for this device (BD550) for anyone to take seriously enough when researching new Blu-ray devices. I don't think I will purchase another LG product. Please due your due diligence when looking at this or similar devices. I would not recommend this one for purchase - not even at this price.
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on August 21, 2010
I can't say enough good things about this bluray player. I bought it as a second Netflix bluray player so I will compare this one to the Insignia bluray player, which is Best Buy's house brand.

Pros:

1. The LG is very fast loading for both blurays and DVD's. Both types of disc look stunning on this player. I have never seen DVD's look this good on any other player. The Insignia doesn't even come close in loading times and DVD's don't look as sharp.

2. The LG remote is almost perfect. You can hold it to read what each button does and at the same time push each button and the player will respond. You can press info while a disc is playing and screens will pop up giving you extensive disc info similar to IMDB. The Insignia remote is the worst remote I have ever used. The player will not respond unless you aim the remote down towards the floor. Even then you have to press each button more then once. There is no disc info.

3. The Netflix streaming on the LG is outstanding. The HD content is excellent and equals the best HD channels on my cable system. The display has a timer for Netflix streaming so you can tell where you are in the movie without stopping or pausing. The Insignia's Netflix streaming is just fair. The HD content is OK but is below the HD channels on my cable system. The display only says NETFLIX during streaming - no timer.

4. The LG has many online partners and recently added MLB and Napster to the lineup. You can listen to Pandora, watch YouTube and when you link the player to Vulu you get a $5.99 credit towards movie rentals. Insignia has just Pandora in addition to Netflix.

Cons:

1. The display on the LG is very dim. Just a minor complaint though.

2. The USB port is in the front behind a drop down door so you can't leave a flash drive in it all the time.

That's about it. Don't hesitate to buy this player if you want the best Netflix experience.
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on October 3, 2010
This Blu-ray player is a great stand alone that works very well. I have been using it now for over a month with great results.
This is a network device and can be hooked into the Internet. It offers such features as Netflix, Youtube, and Vudu.

I kind of expected a metal shell as my last dvd player had one. I was a little surprised it came in a plastic casing. While it is a cheap out on LG's behalf, it's still a great player. The menu and operation of the device are simple to navigate, and you get a full function remote control with the color function buttons.
One little thing that bugs me is that while the load times are fairly fast for a Blu-ray, not all movies can use the MARKER feature to save your place. If you can use the MARKER and you need to turn it off for some reason, your place is saved and you can be watching the movie again within 30 seconds of turning the machine on.
If you can't use the MARKER because the disc doesn't support it and you have to turn the movie off. Your place is lost and you have to sit through all the BS loading crap and previews again.

Let us not forget the movies that won't let you skip the previews. Those are the absolute worst.

A month isn't very long to know how well this machine will last though. It seems well built and so far has played all the movies I've tried, even new release big budget films. What I do know now though, is I would buy LG again. I have also recommended this players to others.

ETA 11-17-2010

While I still think this is a quality machine.
I find it to be buggy whilst playing some of the normal dvds.
I have noted a couple skips with perfect dvds, and sometimes there is a momentary lag/speed up with dvds burned with a dvd-recorder.

I thought a firmware upgrade would take care if it. The problem being that...
A. I don't have it hooked into the internet. Not set up for it.
B. LG's site doesn't make clear just what file I am supposed to download.
C. Emailing them about it will net no response whatsoever about the actual question asked.

They will however email you once a week wanting you to tell them what you think of their electronics.
That's just not good enough LG.

It's not that big of a problem unless you really want stuff unconverted.
My region free dvd player still works just fine, and is still hooked into my equipment.

It still plays Blu-rays beautifully.
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on May 22, 2010
I compared the LG BD550 to the Samsung BD-C5500 specifically for Netflix and vudu online video streaming with a wired ethernet network at home (these models do not have integrated wireless). My HDTV is Samsung LN52B750, receiver is Denon AVR4310ci, HD DVR is Comcast Motorola, Blu-Ray player is Oppo BDP-83, and I needed a Netflix/vudu player to complement the above. Ruled out Roku because it is not optimized for HDTV playback at 1080P, or upconverting online video to 1080P and 24fps. Well-designed Blu-Ray players do both, and have the electronics to deliver superior picture quality. Sony and Panasonic products produce great Blu-Ray pictures, but both brands are laggards when it comes to network streaming features and technology at this time.

The LG proved to be superior with noticeably faster loading time for both Netflix and vudu menus and faster remote control keypad response time. I believe this is due to LG using firmware instead of software as Samsung does to control these functions (software has more overhead). The LG can be set to 1080P and 24fps (if your HDTV can handle both via HDMI), and it performed this upconvert on standard definition Netflix and vudu video with surprisingly good results. vudu streaming is most impressive in HDX video and with their Dolby Digital + audio.

The LG firmware provides fast and superior Netflix menus that not only allow you to see your "instant que", but manage the "instant que" as well and instantly select and watch other titles. The Samsung only allows you to choose from your PC-selected "instant que." The LG firmware also delivers faster vudu menu response and a more sophisticated film menu with info about actors and the making of the movie, snippets of critical reviews from "rotten tomatoes", and other interesting background info. The Samsung offers info about the actors in the movie.

We have been completely satisfied with our $135 LG BD550 player. It is worth the money just for online video streaming. Highly recommended.

Key to happiness with any of these products is 1) buy the right model for either wired ethernet or wireless, and 2) update the firmware immediately upon using the device for the first time. And keep doing 2) because the online video streaming business and technology is evolving fast.

LG did release a firmware update today (June 1) that resolved a short-term glitch for seeing a Netflix movie online on some recent BD550 players. That is resolved with firmware main version BD.8.31.259C and with Servo version H80588.
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on January 5, 2011
I recently decided to purchase a blu-ray player, and after extensive research I selected the LG BD550. Here's why.

My search began under the notion that I wanted a FAST blu-ray player (I hate waiting) and one that could stream netflix HD. I don't care about 3D, I'll let them iron out the problems before paying for it. Under that criteria that left me with a pair of Samsungs, a Sony BDP-S570 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, and an LG BD570 Network Blu-ray Disc Player. The samsungs were eliminated because it turns out they have a very poor reliability record.

The sony supposedly is very fast, and the LG was a little bit behind, but the LG can read about every media format that you can think of (in case you burn or download your own content), plus the LG supposedly produced slightly better picture and better DVD upconversion.

So how did I end up with the LG BD550? Well its pretty much the identical player to theLG BD570, but $50 bucks cheaper. This is because it needs a wired connection to the internet, while the BD570 is wireless. But in all reality, if you plan on streaming HD, you need a wired connection anyway to get the best picture, so wireless is kinda worthless right now.

Now that I have the player...

Pros
* Picture and sound quality are wonderful
* Movies load fast
* Netflix, vudo, pandora, etc work well and look good
* Ninja quiet, you cant tell its on if your not looking at the player.

Cons
* Netflix menu took a while to figure out, and there is no search feature
* Firmware updates not completing
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on December 14, 2011
Overall this is a good player and Netflix works well with a good signal. The only problem I have , even after preforming many updates over the last year, is while playing any Blu-ray DVD it will stop like you have hit the pause button, and nothing you can click on will get it started. I learned the hard way that whatever you start clicking, will actually be clicked one after another after a minute or so and you don't know where it will end up.

The best think to do is to wait until it starts back playing, which will be in the fast forward mode then click pause a couple times. It will take a while but eventually the FF will stop and it will pause. Depending on what you missed you may have to back up but be careful not to back up all the way to where it starts.

This happens on a new B-ray disks also. Usually once per disk so once you are used to it just a annoyance.

Sandman
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