When we reviewed the original version of the BDP7500 back in January of this year, there was one vital ingredient missing from its already generous feature list – 3D compatibility. But now that the technology has started to take off, Philips has wisely revamped the BDP7500 for the 3D generation, and crucially it hasn’t bumped up the price to reflect its new-found talents.
If you can remember this deck when we reviewed it the first time round, you’ll know how smitten we were by its exquisite exterior design – thankfully, Philips has left this intact on the revamp. What we love most is that it looks unlike any other deck on the market, our silver sample providing a refreshing antidote to the black finish so prevalent in the Blu-ray market. But if silver’s not your bag then a black version is also available.
The fascia is close to a work of art, combining mirrored and brushed aluminium panels with a shiny silver trim, while a raised lip along the bottom – illuminated by a gentle blue light – is a lovely touch. What’s more, its build quality is similarly stunning. The sturdy metal casing gives it rigidity all too rare among sub-£200 machines, plus little things like the touch-sensitive controls and the sliding cover for the front-mounted USB port show great attention to detail and make it feel like real effort has gone into this deck’s construction.
Around the back is a generous array of AV connections, including all the sockets found on the original BDP7500 and a newly-added USB port for Philips’ Wi-Fi adapter (WUB1110, sold separately, supports 802.11b/g/n). We criticised the original version for its lack of wireless capabilities, and although it’s disappointing that Philips didn’t go the whole hog with built-in Wi-Fi, this is the next best thing. We also like the fact that Philips put this port on the back, so the adapter is hidden out of sight when connected.
Another major difference is that the HDMI chipset has been swapped from v1.3 to v1.4 in order to support those Full HD 3D images. Aside from that, you get component, composite, analogue stereo, optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, as well as an Ethernet port that lets you connect to the Internet the old fashioned way. Rounding up the selection is a set of 7.1-channel analogue audio outputs, which could prove very handy if your AV receiver doesn’t sport 3D-ready HDMI v1.4 inputs but you want to enjoy HD audio alongside your 3D pictures.
The range of features is excellent. Like the other big names in Blu-ray – Sony, Panasonic, LG and Samsung – Philips throws in a bunch of DLNA networking and web-enabled features that expand the player’s remit beyond Blu-ray discs, and the inclusion of a wireless connection makes them wonderfully easy to access. First up, you can stream music, videos and photos from networked PCs, a function it performs with admirable slickness. On top of that you can stream or download BD Live content, and the 1GB of built-in memory means you don’t need to plug in USB storage to do so.
Finally, there’s Philips’ Net TV service, which like Sony’s Bravia Internet Video or LG’s NetCast zaps a range of Internet applications directly to your TV. The main page uses a simple but eye-catching layout, with small thumbnails for each application and a list of options on the right of the screen.