Philips doesn’t make a song and dance about it, but its Blu-ray players have been among the best on the market in recent years, mixing attractive spec sheets with dashing designs and high-quality hi-def movie playback. None has impressed us more than the BDP7500, the second version of which added 3D support to its already extensive range of talents.
That player has been superseded this year by the equally great-looking BDP7600, which offers 3D playback from the box alongside loads of other goodies that’ll have high-profile rivals like Panasonic, Sony and Samsung looking over their shoulders. It’s one of a handful of new Philips players introduced this year, sitting above the entry-level 3000 series and step-up 5000 series.
In terms of design, let’s not beat about the bush – the BDP7600 is a stunner. It’s really refreshing to see Philips stepping away from the black box design favoured by rivals with instantly striking silver bodywork, embellished with all manner of elegant curves and ridges. Most of the fascia is taken up by a mirrored panel, embedded into which is an LED display panel and disc tray. The lip protruding from the bottom features a row of touch-sensitive buttons that light up when the deck is activated, giving it a wonderfully futuristic feel. It’s not just lovely to look at – pick it up and its superb build quality is instantly apparent, thanks to the sturdy aluminium casing designed to keep unwanted vibration at bay.
Do a 180 and you’ll encounter an unusually generous range of connections. Most unexpected are 7.1-channel analogue outputs, which will come in handy if your ancient AV receiver lacks HDMI inputs but you want to enjoy HD audio soundtracks. It’s also good to see a choice of both coaxial and optical digital audio outputs, plus this might be the first time we’ve seen an SD card on the back panel of a Blu-ray player. This can be used to provide the memory needed to download BD Live content or video on demand found on the deck’s Net TV feature, but it can’t be used for media playback – that’s left to the USB port on the front. The socket line-up is completed by HDMI v1.4, composite, analogue stereo/surround back outputs and an Ethernet port.