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Toshiba BDX2700 Blu Ray Player Review

by The Review CrewAugust 17, 2010

The good: Excellent Blu-ray image quality; Netflix, Vudu, Pandora and Blockbuster streaming; built-in Wi-Fi; 7.1 analog outputs.

The bad: Slowest operational speed we’ve tested this year; competing players offer more streaming media services; not DLNA-compliant; somewhat bulky design.

The bottom line: The Toshiba BDX2700 is currently a little cheaper than other midrange Blu-ray players and includes 7.1 analog outputs, but otherwise there’s little reason to favor it over faster models with better features.

Review:
When Toshiba rolled out its first Blu-ray player, the BDX2000, in late 2009, it seemed like a begrudging move by the former backer of the HD DVD format, with the player lacking streaming and premium features that were then standard on other midrange players. When the BDX2700 was announced at CES 2010, it was obvious Toshiba was ready to take the former rival format seriously, with the newer player offering built-in Wi-Fi, 7.1 analog outputs and suite of streaming features that includes Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, and Blockbuster. It’s also currently selling for a couple.

While its spec sheet looked promising, the BDX2700 was a little disappointing once we got out hands on it. Its design is a far cry from the sleek and slender exteriors offered by Samsung and Sony, and it also wound up being the slowest Blu-ray player we’ve tested this year. And though the BDX2700 has the main streaming features we consider important, most Blu-ray players offer more, including DLNA compliancy. The BDX2700 isn’t a bad Blu-ray player if you can get it at a discount, but we couldn’t find a major reason buyers should prefer it over the alternatives.

Design
Blu-ray players have gotten much slimmer over the years, but the BDX2700’s design seems to be stuck in the past. It has a large, boxy look, coming in at 16.9 inches wide by 2.5 inches high by 8.3 inches deep. We did appreciate that the BDX27000 avoids some of the design pitfalls common on competitors, such as a flip-down door or difficultly placed touch-sensitive buttons. There are basic play and stop buttons on the front; we would have like some chapter skip buttons, too. Overall the Toshiba won’t turn any heads in your AV rack, but it’s not an eyesore, either.

The included clicker breaks with a lot of the standard Blu-ray remote conventions. Yes, there’s a directional pad toward the top of the remote, but it’s surrounded by a ring of buttons. Most of the buttons seem strangely out of place–like the volume up/down buttons and chapter skip buttons–while other important functions, like popup menu, are elsewhere. The rest of the remote is better, with a separate area for playback controls toward the bottom and the numpad appropriately stashed at the bottom.

User interface
The less-than-polished look of the BDX2700 carries over to the user interface. While competitors have spiced up their players with colorful high-def graphics, the BDX2700 has a more basic look. In this case, basic doesn’t mean easier; if you want to play a Blu-ray movie, for example, you have to select “BD-ROM,” rather than a simpler phrase like “Watch Blu-ray.” Streaming services like Netflix and Vudu are in a section confusingly labeled “Connected” and are represented by simple white text rather than logos.

While we appreciated that the BDX2700 includes an initial setup guide when you first turn it on, the guide doesn’t include Wi-Fi setup. Instead, you have to dig through the menus to configure wireless access. Considering that Wi-Fi is one of the few things that actually needs to be configured on a Blu-ray player, it seemed like an oversight.

The BDX2700’s user interface isn’t as straightforward as we would have liked. For example, jargon like “Connected” and “BD-ROM” are used, where simpler phrases like “Streaming media” or “Blu-ray” could be used.
Moving on to its streaming-media services, we were pleased to see that the BDX2700 uses the most recent version of Netflix’s interface, so it’s possible to browse a few categories in addition to your instant queue, such as “Movies You’ll Love” and “New Arrivals.”

When we first tried Vudu, the user interface was distorted in a way that made movies look unwatchable. You can fix it by altering the settings, but we have preferred it working correctly out-of-the-box.
When we first fired up Vudu, the interface appeared to be significantly distorted. The picture was “window boxed,” meaning that there were dark gray bars on the top and sides of the image. Even worse, when we started a movie, the picture fills the entire screen, but you can still see where the bars are as the image is much lighter in those areas. When we asked Toshiba about it, the company suggested changing the overscan settings in the Vudu menu and this did the trick. It’s worth pointing out, however, that we haven’t run into this issue with other players.

Features
The BDX2700 has the basic feature set expected of a midrange Blu-ray player, including built-in 802.11N Wi-Fi. We would have liked at least 1GB of onboard memory, which is available on the competing Samsung BD-C6500 and Sony BDP-S570. The BDP-S570 is also 3D compatible, although we don’t consider the BDX2700’s lack of 3D to be a major missing feature since the format is still in its infancy.

While the BDX2700’s collection of streaming-media services should suffice for many buyers, it lags behind the variety of services offered by the competition. The BDX2700 does cover the three types of services we consider most important: subscription-based streaming movies (Netflix), rental-based streaming movies (Vudu and Blockbuster) and a free streaming-music service (Pandora). However, competitors offer extras like YouTube and Picasa, and most midrange Blu-ray players also offer DLNA-compatibility, enabling you to stream music, movies and photos from a networked PC. These missing features might not matter for the mainstream user, but techies will miss the additional functionality.

Like nearly every Blu-ray player available now, the BDX2700 offers onboard decoding for both high-resolution Dolby and DTS formats. If you’re looking to play back SACDs and DVD-Audios, you’ll need to look to Oppo’s competing players; Sony’s BDP-S570 also offers SACD playback.

The BDX2700 has a better-than-average connectivity for this price level. The big step-up is the inclusion of 7.1 analog outputs, which allow those with older, non-HDMI receivers to take advantage of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks at their full resolution. It lacks a coaxial digital audio output–which many other players have–but that’s only a problem if you’re out of optical inputs on your AV receiver.

The rest of the BDX2700’s connectivity is also a step above the basics, including both an SD card slot and a rear USB port. We would have liked to have seen an additional USB port on the front panel, but that’s a nitpick.

Blu-ray performance
The BDX2700 has excellent Blu-ray image quality overall, similar to the majority of Blu-ray players we have tested this year. It passed all the most important test patterns and program material tests, and should provide outstanding image quality on nearly all Blu-ray movies. As usual, the most dedicated videophiles will still prefer the very slightly better Blu-ray picture produced by the Oppo BDP-83, but the vast majority of high-definition-movie fans will be perfectly satisfied with the BDX2700’s Blu-ray image quality.

All our testing was conducted via HDMI at 1080p/60, with the Samsung PN58B650 display and Oppo BDP-83 and LG BD570 for comparison. If your display supports and correctly handles 24 frames per second output (also known as 1080p/24), you can largely ignore these tests as we find all players to have virtually identical 1080p/24 performance. For more information on our testing procedure, consult our full guide to how we test Blu-ray players. Home theater enthusiasts can also see more detailed testing results in our 2010 Blu-ray players comparison chart.

It’s tough to complain about the BDX2700’s performance on test patterns, as it passed the tests we consider most important. We did notice that during the 2:3 pull-down portion of the Film Resolution Test, the BDX2700 did tend to drop out of its processing for a half-second, but it quickly recovered. It also failed the text overlay test pattern–as we could see quite a few jaggies in the background–but it’s rare that this shows up in real program material. Nitpicks aside, we were impressed with the BDX2700’s performance.

We were interested to see how the BDX2700 did with standard film-based movies, since it had a hiccup on the test patterns, but it handled all our program material tests with ease. We didn’t notice it dropped its film processing at any point, even looking at scenes we know to be problematic. The BDX2700’s excellent program material performance gives it an oh-so-slight edge over competing players like the BDP-S570 and Vizio VBR200W, which each failed a single video-based test. The BDX2700’s Blu-ray image quality will impress all but those downright obsessed with image quality.

The Toshiba BDX2700 is the slowest standalone Blu-ray player we’ve tested this year, which is tough to accept from a player that costs $180. The sluggishness was most noticeable on “Pirates of the Caribbean,” with its BD-Java heavy menus, and the BDX2700 took over a minute and a half to get to the actual movie. Even with simple movies like “Mission: Impossible III,” the BDX2700 turned in the slowest time we’ve seen, taking almost twice as along as the Samsung BD-C6500 to load the movie. Yes, it’s still faster than the PS3 Slim by a good deal, but it lags a good deal behind recent standalone players. Considering that operational speed is one of the few areas where we see much of a difference between Blu-ray players, we consider this to a serious knock against the BDX2700.

Other performance

The BDX2700’s DVD image quality was better than we were expecting, passing nearly all the test patterns we threw at it, and having no issues with program material. When we compared it directly with the reference Oppo BDP-83, we did prefer the BDP-83, but the difference is relatively subtle.

As with most devices, we saw no major issues with Netflix streaming on the BDX2700. That gives the BDX2700 an edge over the Sony BDP-S570, which suffers from some streaming-image quality issues.

The BDX2700 lacks a quick-start mode, but it still manages to use more power than the average Blu-ray player. That’s mostly due to the fact that it draws almost 2.5 watts in standby mode, which is much higher than any other player that lacks quick start. In practical terms it doesn’t matter much; the annual cost for the BDX2700 is just a few bucks more than, say, the LG BD570’s $1.05 annual cost. But for those that value green gadgetry, it’s hard not to be annoyed by the amount of power the BDX2700 wastes when it’s “off.”

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.