£99.99 - www.b4udirect.com
The first deck in our ‘budget’ price bracket is the Toshiba BDX3100, which can be found for as much as £200 but we found most retailers selling it for closer to £100. Being the cheapest 3D Blu-ray player in our round-up is great, but sadly the feature list isn’t generous enough to make it feel like a bargain.
It lacks the alluring bells and whistles found on its rivals, such as access to Internet content and DLNA media streaming, and you can forget about a second HDMI output for non-v1.4 receivers. It’ll only play DivX, MP3 and JPEG too and there’s no support for Wi-Fi – BD Live content can only be accessed through the Ethernet port, and with no memory on board you’ll need a USB stick to store it.
On the plus side however, it’s a sleek, well-built machine that presents you with an unusually wide range of picture adjustments in its Video and Motion Video Processing menus. And once you’ve found the perfect settings you get some fantastic 3D pictures, with a crisp and convincing layering effect, radiant colours and pristine detail reproduction. 2D pictures look similarly impressive.
While we applaud Toshiba for embracing 3D technology so effectively with this player, there isn’t enough going on elsewhere to hold your interest – you’re better off freeing up extra funds for one of its pricier rivals.
£119.00 - www.electrocentreltd.com
LG’s BX580 deck is the natural evolution of its excellent BD570 player, adding 3D support to its already lengthy list of features, but it’s nowhere near as attractive as its 2D predecessor. Among the highlights of the feature list are DLNA-certified media streaming and access to LG’s NetCast portal, both of which can be accessed wirelessly thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi support. NetCast only offers three websites, which gives it far less longevity than Sony’s BRAVIA Internet Video or Samsung’s Internet@TV, but its media streaming feature supports a lengthy list of formats. Other features include CD ripping onto USB and HD audio decoding.
There’s also a decent range of connections (including a USB port on the front) but no second HDMI output. LG has also puts lots of thought into its onscreen presentation, using flashy graphics and slick animations, all of which makes the deck a joy to use.
Its 3D pictures are a real treat, but like all the players featured here they require a decent TV to make them sparkle and at present only 3D plasmas are pushing all the right buttons. The player itself doesn’t put a foot wrong, delivering deep, absorbing 3D images with crisp fine detail reproduction, and if you’re yet to invest in a 3D TV then rest assured that its 2D pictures are pretty good too.
The BX580’s low online price tag coupled with its excellent range of features makes it a great purchase.