Sharp's first Blu-ray Disc player, the Sharp BD-HP20H is a winner on all counts.

Turn on the Sharp BD-HP20H and the unit is powered up and ready to receive a disc in under 6 seconds. That's the quickest time we've seen from a Blu-ray Disc player for that chore.

True, once on, it's slower than many others at starting to play, but the Sharp BD-HP20H's combined startup time of 41 seconds was still faster than any other player.

But it's what you see (and hear) when you have it going that counts. The Sharp BD-HP20H simply surpassed every other player on almost all criteria. Our jury rated it number one in our tests of detail, color quality, brightness and contrast, and audio.

Aside from a great picture, great sound, and a fast response time, the BD-HP20U doesn't offer much. It lacks an ethernet port, Divx support (common on competing Blu-ray Disc players), and picture-in-picture BonusView support. Even the included USB port is limited--it can be used only for firmware updates, not for running images or media files.

This model does have an on-board capability to decode Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus audio - a boon for titles that come with those sound-track formats.

One down side to the Sharp Aquos BD-HP20H's design: if you lose the remote, you're in trouble. The sole buttons on the front panel are Power and Open/Close.

The unit's chassis design isn't the only flaw in the Sharp Aquos BD-HP20H. The on-screen menus lack consistency: at times they're easy to read, with large type and icons, and at other times they're text-heavy with a font that looks like a typewriter with worn-out ribbon. On the positive side, they explain the options. But that's complaining about small stuff.

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Sharp Aquos BD-HP20H: Specs

  • Blu-ray Drive
  • BD-ROM/RE/R High-Definition Playback
  • 1080p and 24Hz Cinema output via HDMI
  • DVD upscaling to 1080p
  • 2 scart sockets
  • NICAM stereo sound
  • Remote control
  • CD-VCD compatible
  • CDDA, CD-RW/R Compatible
  • DVD-R compatible
  • MP3 Compatible
  • Black Colour
  • 68x430x335mm
  • Blu-ray Drive
  • BD-ROM/RE/R High-Definition Playback
  • 1080p and 24Hz Cinema output via HDMI
  • DVD upscaling to 1080p
  • 2 scart sockets
  • NICAM stereo sound
  • Remote control
  • CD-VCD compatible
  • CDDA, CD-RW/R Compatible
  • DVD-R compatible
  • MP3 Compatible
  • Black Colour
  • 68x430x335mm

OUR VERDICT

Where it really counts, the Sharp Aquos BD-HP20H is one great Blu-ray Disc player.

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