Blu-ray players have come on in leaps and bounds over the past year, introducing us to the wonders of Full HD 3D, wireless media streaming and web widgets. But Philips has always been a few steps behind the Japanese and Koreans in terms of innovation, and as such hasn’t yet dipped its toe in cutting-edge waters. Instead it focuses on producing stylish, no-nonsense decks for people who simply want high-quality Blu-ray playback, not a bevy of beguiling features.
The BDP3100 continues in the same vein, but then that’s hardly surprising given its amazingly low price tag and entry-level positioning. And although the spec sheet is modest compared with the Samsung BD-C6900 or Panasonic DMP-BDT300, it does tick all the boxes on the Blu-ray essentials checklist.
It’s also a very attractive and beautifully built player, which you simply wouldn’t expect for this sort of money. The instant you pluck it from the packaging you can feel the quality – for starters it’s fairly heavy for a budget deck and the casing is made from a lightly textured aluminium. What’s more, the curved edges and glinting black fascia give it a suave modernity that only Samsung’s players can match.
On the back, the range of connections is par for the course, but should suffice for straightforward setups. The HDMI output is central to its hi-def talents, outputting video in 1080/24p for the purest Blu-ray playback as well as 1080p, 1080i and 720p for upscaling DVDs to pseudo HD. You can, however, select the Auto or Native options in the setup menu and let the player select the appropriate output for your TV.
The BDP3100 is a Profile 2.0 player and an Ethernet port is provided for BD Live access, but that’s the only way you can connect to the Internet. There’s no Wi-Fi, either built-in or via USB adapter, and there’s no network streaming either.
You also won’t find any built-in memory for BD Live downloads, but this can be added by plugging a USB device into the back of the player. A second USB port is generously provided on the front for media playback. Completing the socket line-up are component, composite, coaxial digital and analogue stereo outputs.
The BDP3100’s digital media support is impressive. It’ll play DivX Ultra, MP3, WMA, XviD, JPEG, AVCHD and WMV from USB sticks, card readers and discs, although with the latter it’s a little fussy about which version you use – it played a WMV HD file with pictures but no sound, for instance, then refused to play another of our files completely. The lack of DivX HD and MKV support is a pity but not a deal-breaker at this price.
That’s pretty much exhausted the BDP3100’s feature list, apart from a group of picture presets (Standard, Vivid, Cool, Action, Animation), DTS Neo:6 virtual surround processing, an aspect ratio setting that caters for Philips’ Cinema 21:9 TVs and support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio (bitstream and decoded PCM).