Nothing really stands out about the Toshiba BDX2700. The images it produces from Blu-ray discs look very good on an HDTV. Its Internet options include regular favorite Netflix and the broad selection of Vudu Apps. The $180 estimated street price seems reasonable enough. But the BDX2700 is no dream machine.
For instance, it had trouble with the difficult task of upconverting DVDs. It managed to keep up with our reference player, a Sony PlayStation 3, on our Lord of the Rings: Return of the King test (chapter 22). But in chapter 3 of Phantom of the Opera, it showed significantly less detail than the PS3, which typically underperforms compared with the best Blu-ray players we’ve seen.
When I examined the very same scene on the Phantom Blu-ray, my initial reaction was “Wow!” The details and the sense of depth made the images jump off the screen.
Another impressive performance came on the Blu-ray of The Searchers (chapters 4 and 20). The color saturation was just a little more than lifelike, perfect for a 1956 Western shot in the now-defunct but still beautiful VistaVision and Technicolor technologies.
But content didn’t have to be old-fashioned to look good. Chapter 7 of Mission: Impossible III displayed so much depth and clarity that it almost made me want to watch the entire movie.
If you don’t have what you want to watch on disc, you can make use of the BDX2700’s Internet features, via ethernet or the player’s built-in Wi-Fi. This player offers only four services, but one of them is Vudu Apps, which includes assorted broadcast and cable news shows plus popular Websites such as Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa (and, of course, Vudu’s own on-demand streaming movie service).
The other three services are Blockbuster On Demand, Netflix, and Pandora. You’d be justified in feeling nervous about buying something that depends on Blockbuster’s financial health right now, but you can always use Vudu for the same services.
One major service this player lacks is YouTube. If you want to watch the homemade music video a friend just uploaded, you’re out of luck—unless the friend comes over with a flash drive.
You can plug that flash drive, or an SD Card, into this player and enjoy your own videos, photos, or music collection. The BDX2700 can play .wma as well as .mp3 files. Although the manual doesn’t list specific codecs, in our tests the BDX2700 played most of the video files I offered it. You can view a slideshow of your photos, but you get no option to accompany the pictures with music.
Playing media off a flash drive is a little more of a hassle than it should be, since Toshiba placed the USB port on the back of the player. Such positioning was acceptable in the days when a Blu-ray player’s USB port had no function beyond extra storage, where you’d probably plug in a drive once and forget about it. But with multimedia, for which you’ll be plugging and unplugging drives all the time, it’s an annoyance.
Beyond that poor engineering decision, the BDX2700 is a physically well-designed Blu-ray player. The buttons on the front are real, with actual tactile feedback. And the ones you’re most likely to use the most, Power and Eject, are reasonably far from the others. The SD Card slot, at least, is in the front. If the front-panel lights are too bright, you can use a button on the remote control to dim them.
That Dimmer button isn’t the only unusual one on the remote. The unit also has dedicated Resolution and Aspect buttons, but they don’t always work as they should. For instance, pressing the Resolution button when watching a program (a time when you might notice that something is wrong) gives you only an error message.
Your thumb will go naturally to the remote’s play-control buttons (Play, Pause, and so on), but they lack the differentiation in shape that would make them easy to identify in the dark. And since the remote is neither backlit nor glow-in-the-dark, you’ll really miss the lack of distinctive touches. You cannot program this remote to control your TV.
You can use the remote to enter the BDX2700’s menus and change settings. The menus are visually attractive and easy to read, with pop-up submenus for various options. However, they lack explanations that would help you make informed choices.
Pressing the remote’s Info button while a disc is playing shows you the title and chapter numbers, the time elapsed, and the total time (but not the time remaining). You get little other useful information, but the window will tell you if the current title is playing or paused—information that you can probably figure out on your own.
Most of the Toshiba BDX2700’s flaws are minor annoyances. If DVD image quality isn’t a high priority for you, this is a pretty good player.
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