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Marantz BD7004 Blu-ray Player - Marantz BD7004
The BD7004 is a Profile 2.0 player, hence the Ethernet connection on the back, but our experience with the Wi-Fi equipped LG BD390 makes this wired connection feel even more clunky than it did before. Sure it's fast and stable, but nobody wants a LAN cable trailing across their house.
The lack of Wi-Fi is hardly surprising - there aren't many companies that can keep up with the Koreans' rate of innovation, let alone Blu-ray latecomers like Marantz - but at £700 you'd at least hope for some built-in memory for BD Live updates. Sadly that's not included either, which means you have to load an SD card into the front-mounted slot to store downloaded content.
The upside to having this SD card slot on board is that it'll play back MP3, WMA, JPEG and AVCHD files. It's also pleasing to note that DivX HD is supported from BD-R/-RE, DVD-R/-RW and CD-R/-RW, which expands the range of playable hi-def content at your disposal.
After a lengthy boot-up time, we explored its menu system and were hit by a sudden sense of deja vu. Apart from the Marantz logo in the background, it's identical to that of the Denon DVD-1800BD and DVD-3800BD, suggesting some inevitable technology sharing at D&M Holdings, the parent company that owns both brands. Quite how far the similarities extend into other areas of the deck's design isn't exactly clear, but Denon's players also sport SD card slots on the front and the remotes look remarkably similar.
Still, in this case familiarity doesn't breed contempt thanks to the practical and stylish menu layout, which is split into Quick (the essential settings), Custom (the full range of options) and Initialize (which lets you reset the deck's settings and clear data from its memory).
The remote fares well, with the uncomplicated labelling and intuitive button placement making it feel very natural in your hand. You get some additional controls at the bottom that allow you to control volume and input selection on compatible Marantz receivers.
A range of picture adjustments is accessed by pressing the Mode button - you get five memory positions, each with its own adjustable levels of contrast, brightness, sharpness, gamma correction and colour. It's a shame they're hidden away, as these settings prove very useful. The Mode key also lets you access the virtual surround mode, and a range of other functions depending on the content you're watching.
In stark contrast to decks from OPPO and LG, the BD7004 loads up Blu-ray discs with all the urgency of a sedated sloth. Both Spider-Man 3 and the newer Monsters Vs Aliens discs took exactly a minute to start playing, and it also takes a painfully long time for the deck to spit out a disc.