Toshiba BDX2700 Blu-ray player Page 3
Tests and Real-World Performance
The Toshiba sailed through all of our standard- and high-definition Video Test Bench processing benchmarks. As each month goes by and Blu-ray takes hold in the market, DVD upconversion becomes less important. However, if you own a vast collection of DVDs, the BDX2700 does an admirable job of upconverting. On my front-projection setup with a 76.5-inch-wide screen, the player’s upconversion couldn’t match the output of my OPPO BDP-83. The differences were much harder to distinguish on my 50-inch plasma.
,P. One of the biggest complaints that most new Blu-ray player users have is the glacial boot-up and loading of discs compared with the DVD players of yesteryear. This player isn’t as fast as the 2010 models from Samsung and LG, but it isn’t a sloth, either. From a cold start, the disc tray ejects in only 15 seconds, which is slightly slower than my reference OPPO BDP-83 (12 seconds). Non-Java-intensive titles load in about 18 seconds, while notoriously slow discs such as G-Force, Avatar, and Pixar titles take a little over a minute. That’s fast compared with just 18 months ago, when you could die of old age waiting for a movie to load.
I spend most of my free time watching movies, and the Toshiba was a pleasure to use. The only problem disc I ran into was Fox’s White Collar, which locked the player up on numerous occasions. Initially, I blamed the player, but when I popped the disc into my OPPO, it was a 50/50 shot whether it would load without requiring a restart. I place the blame on Fox and its BD+ encryption scheme since the player didn’t have any issues with the 30-plus other discs I put into it.
If your display supports 1080p/24 playback, then it’s the only way to watch Blu-rays. This limits any extraneous video processing in the supply chain, and you’ll see exactly what’s encoded on the disc. Unfortunately, the mantra of garbage in, garbage out still applies. For example, Fox’s special-edition release of Predator is one of the most unnatural-looking discs I’ve viewed on Blu-ray. The video engineers decided to clean up the print by applying ample levels of processing. This eliminates virtually all of the film grain along with a lot of fine detail. In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face looks smoother than the Ken doll from Toy Story 3.
Whether you decide to decode the audio internally or use the bitstream DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD soundtracks, the player delivers the goods. The internal decoding is on par with my surround processor’s audio processing via HDMI, although I couldn’t change the option on the fly. You have to enter the user menu in order to make the change, which stops playback of the movie.
I used chapter 2 of the reissued Gladiator Blu-ray Disc to compare the two outputs, and the frequency response from both is to die for. The swish of arrows as they fly through the air, the pounding of horses’ hooves as they rush through the forest, and the clang of metal as the soldiers meet on the field of battle transported me right into the middle of the action. People marvel at the picture that Bluray produces, but the lossless audio soundtracks are just as impressive.
Netflix playback on the BDX2700 equals the output I’ve experienced from other devices enabled with the service. I watched a number of old TV shows like the original—and campy—Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and compared them with the output from a TiVo Series 3. Neither of these shows will blow you away with stellar audio and video, but Erin Gray looks outstanding in Spandex regardless of the resolution. I also viewed an HD stream of La Bamba, and the video quality surpassed the DVD, although the stereo audio was disappointing.
Roman Polanski isn’t on my list of favorite celebrities, but his film The Ghost Writer has plenty of intrigue and strong performances from stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan. The 1080p HDX stream from VUDU, along with the Dolby Digital Plus audio, far surpasses the experience you’ll get from DVD and nearly equals the Blu-ray in both categories. Six bucks is a steep price to pay versus a $1.50 Blu-ray rental from a Redbox or a $10-per-month Netflix subscription. But for the casual viewer, the convenience may outweigh the cost. If you haven’t had the chance to audition VUDU yet, you’re missing out on a great service.
I’m fortunate enough to have a wide variety of Blu-ray players constantly moving through my system. While I’ve tested players with heftier build quality, speedier disc loading, and better DVD upconversion, they’ve all been significantly more expensive than the BDX2700. If you’re looking to jump into Blu-ray on a budget and are interested in additional streaming options, the Toshiba deserves some serious consideration, especially when you can find the player online for less than $200.