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It seems hard to believe, but in over two years of reviewing Blu-ray players on TrustedReviews this is the first Philips model we've encountered. Despite being one of the format's original founders, the company's Blu-ray back-story has been beset by frustration and false-starts - the BDP9000 was touted back at CES 2006 along with the Samsung BD-P1000 and Panasonic DMP-BD10 but it never saw the light of day in the UK, while the Profile 1.1 BDP7200 was launched last year but sold in very few retailers and wasn't pushed on the PR front (hence why we never got a review sample).
But at last it appears that Philips has a Blu-ray player worth shouting about. The BDP7300 is the company's top-end Profile 2.0 player (with the midrange BDP5000 and entry-level BDP3000 to follow) and a glance at the spec sheet reveals that it's fully equipped to meet the needs of today's Blu-ray buyer.
You can always count on Philips to dress its gear in eye-catching, distinctive designs, and that's certainly the case here. The BDP7300 is a slim unit that sports a flat gloss-black fascia with curved corners, while the inclusion of just four buttons, a disc tray and a USB port on the front makes it alluringly minimal.
But it's more than just a pretty face - the reassuringly robust metal bodywork bodes well for its long term durability and playback stability. And on the back you'll find a very satisfying selection of sockets, the most notable of which are the Ethernet port - your conduit for BD Live downloads - and a set of 5.1-channel analogue audio outputs, which can be used to send decoded Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks to AV receivers without HDMI inputs (but obviously you don't get the surround back channels with 7.1 soundtracks).
The Philips is also equipped with HDMI v1.3, component and composite video outputs, as well as optical and coaxial digital audio outputs and analogue stereo output.
Although the BDP7300 lacks the Wi-Fi web connection found on Samsung's latest players, it does boast 1GB of built-in memory, which means you don't need to connect a USB flash drive to store downloaded movie extras. That also leaves the front USB port free for multimedia playback duties.
On that score the deck has a surprise up its sleeve. It plays WMV HD (both 720p and 1080p) and regular WMV, although we were disappointed that it wouldn't play the audio with any of our test files, showing an 'Unsupported Audio Format' error message. And with older versions of the codec it only played the audio track but not the video. If it was a bit less choosy this would have been a more attractive selling point, although you might have more luck with your own content.
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