It seems like eons ago that Toshiba was out and about touting the benefits of HD DVD. Maybe that's because it was eons ago -- at least in consumer electronics time. The failed format lost the last of its backing and closed up shop in 2008.
Of course, time heals all wounds. It took them a coupld of years, but Toshiba did eventually come to the Blu-ray side. Its first Blu-ray player, the BDX2000, was released in late 2009.
Now, just a few months later, they've perfected things with the BDX2700. Combining great playback, as well as a slew of other entertainment options, Toshiba just might have the perfect Blu-ray player combo. Did we mention it can be had for under $200? Read on!
Light, Airy & Effortless
When we open products like this one, it's such a relief. The BDX2700 comes with minimum packaging. That not only makes it easy to throw out the packing materials, but also makes for an easy setup process.
The BDX2700 is wrapped tightly with a standard audio/video cable, a remote and batteries, the good old manual, and information about Blockbuster, Netflix, and VUDU. At 3.85 pounds, the device itself is insanely small and lightweight, making it easy to squeeze into an overcrowded A/V cabinet. Although the BDX2700 does come boxed with a composite video and stereo audio cable, we opted for an HDMI cable instead, thanks very much.
Another item you will need to add into the equation is some type of plug-in storage. Although the BDX2700 is new, for some reason, Toshiba didn't kick in the internal storage. You will need to add an SD card or USB memory stick, with at least 1GB of memory (recommended).
Next, we popped in the batteries and pressed power. It took about 2 seconds for the unit to tell us there was no web connection. At the 10-second mark, we were informed there was no disc. At exactly 12 seconds, we got the main menu, with the option to enter the set-up. Clicking yes took us to language settings. The BDX2700 then asks for your preferred resolution and TV Aspect.
Next, we configured the unit for the web. The device offers Wired and Wireless connections, as well as a Network Test. From Wireless, you can choose from a Network List, WiFi Protected Setup (WPS), Manual configuration or IP Settings. We went with the List, and easily found our wireless router's SSID. The interface also offers a pop-up keyboard option, which made entering our network password much easier. After we clicked DONE, the unit was connected in about 3 seconds. Once that was completed, we ran through the BDX2700's speaker test, just to make sure we were ready to roll, though this feature is primarily meant for those who use the unit's 7.1-channel analog outputs (oh, yeah, it's got those, too!).
That test is just one of the Settings that the BDX2700 offers on its sub-menu wheel. Other options include detqailed setup options for Audio, Display, Language, Parental controls, and more. The main menu has just two options: Settings and Connected.
The Connected menu is where those with short attention spans will spend the most time. This spot features a few instant, on-demand streaming media options: Blockbuster, Netflix, Pandora and VUDU.
First, we opted for Netflix because we're already spoiled with a streaming subscription. It took seconds to register the Toshiba device on our Netflix account, and in about a minute, we had our instant queue up on the screen. We tried out a few selections and found them to be equal in quality to what we've seen on other players -- except the Wii, of course, which does not stream HD. This unit also features the enhanced "Netflix 2.0" interface, with extremely easy access to Recently Watched titles, as well as New Arrivals for movies and TV shows, and various genres. This allowed us to check out titles that weren't already added to our queue.
We punched in our Pandora (free) account info, which took us to saved stations, as well as options for QuickMix, as well as to add stations and users. This option is extremely nice for entertaining at a party (even a party of one). The sound cranked very nicely through all five of our speakers. We even tapped into our Barry White station for a bit of bass, as well as some older music. Everything sounded pretty smooth and as always, we were extremely pleased with Pandora's selection.
Plenty of Blockbuster selections are also available, at $3.99 per rental. The service also allows you to buy titles for anywhere from $12.99 to $21.99. We didn't rent anything, but watched most of the trailers under New Releases. If those selections are indicative of the service, we're impressed. Selections were instant, and both the image and sound were nothing short of stellar. The menu is very easy to navigate, as well, allowing viewers to scroll through big, beautiful cover art. The service provides options to search by title, browse new releases, the most popular selections, and various genres. Click on a cover to get more information about the movie, ratings, view the trailer or make a purchase. There's also an option to add movies to a My Favorites collection.
Last, but certainly not least, we have VUDU. The super thing about VUDU, aside from HD movies on-demand, is that there are a ton of VUDU Apps -- and apparently, they are free to play around with. So within seconds, we were checking out our Facebook feed, tapping into Twitter, checking the weather, world news, movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and more.
It's Also a Blu-ray Player!
When we got around to using the actual Blu-ray player, the first thing we did was test out a few load times. So far, the BDX2700 didn't keep us waiting on any other features, and disc playback speeds certainly did not disappoint either. For our standard DVD (Gladiator), we waited about 17 seconds to get the first glimpse of the DreamWorks logo. That shaves 8 seconds off our Samsung BD-P1500. A standard Blu-ray (Hitch) took about 26 seconds to load, while our BD-Java Blu-ray Disc (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl) came up in about 22 seconds. The latter almost cuts the time in half from our 2008 Samsung unit.
Next, we put the BDX2700 through the paces with our HQV test DVD. The detail portions of the disc were absolutely gorgeous, and the player passed through all of the "jaggies" tests with flying colors. The cadence tests were also very impressive, with the player having no problems locking into the images displayed and preventing the moire that is visible on lesser players.
Next, we popped in Disney's Ponyo -- on Blu-ray, then DVD. While the animation isn't exactly Pixar, it is a beautiful movie. We tried out the "transformation" scene, as well as bits from the typhoon. The DVD looked nice, but had nothing on the Blu-ray, which produced better, sharper colors.
For other standard DVD fare, we tried out the recent release, Hot Tub Time Machine. The '80s-fied portion of the movie looked really good, even on standard DVD. The BDX2700 did a great job producing the super bright, often neon colors so prominent from that decade. All in all, the upconversion performance was beyond respectable and Blu-ray playback was simply superb.
Like every other Blu-ray player, Toshiba has included a remote with the BDX2700. Unlike many other players, this one is pretty straightforward. Still, with 52 buttons and a click wheel, the remote probably could slim down a bit. Are three menu buttons really necessary? If you like everything getting its own spot, this remote won't disappoint. However, if you like everything easy to find in the dark, this one will be a downer since there's no backlight and button layout leaves a bit to be desired.
Speaking of which, one button we really liked on this unit is the dimmer switch. Click once to perk up the player's LED. Click again if you want it to dim. One more time will completely turn the front panel off (except for the blue power button).
It took Toshiba a little while to join the Blu-ray party, but the BDX2700 was well worth the wait. While it's not their very first player, it's still an early model for the company. It's obvious that they wanted to take their time and get things right. Also, how can you argue with all of this entertainment at such a nice price? The MSRP is $249.95 but last we checked it was available on Amazon for under $180, and that's a lot of bang for your media and entertainment buck.
Where to Buy:
Features and Specifications
Manufacturer's Contact Information:
Toshiba America Consumer Products, LLC
82 Totowa Road
Wayne, NJ 07470