Like most of its rivals, the BDP7600 boasts a built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, which means there’s no need to muck about with pricey USB dongles or cumbersome Ethernet cables if you want to access BD Live, enjoy Philips’ internet portal or stream music, videos and photos from PCs on your home network using the DLNA Network Link feature. With so many homes using wireless routers, built-in Wi-Fi is now essential and we’d expect nothing less from a £200 player.
The BDP7600 will play a wide range of file formats, including DivX HD, MKV, AVI, MP4, AVCHD, MPEG-1, XviD, WMV, MP3, WMA, WAV and JPEG. These can be streamed or played locally from a USB storage device. The USB port will also support external HDDs using the FAT16 or FAT32 file system. As mentioned, the BDP7600 also features Net TV, which brings a bunch of Philips’ partner websites to your TV. The modest list of sites listed on the main menu currently includes YouTube, Twitter, Picasa, Cartoon Network, Box Office 365, France 24, Tune In Radio, Funspot, Screen Dreams, iConcerts and MeteoConsult, but you can add others from the App Gallery. But the thing that sets Net TV apart from other web portals is that you can browse the internet at large on your TV, putting virtually any online entertainment source at your disposal – provided the deck’s browser can handle it. We navigated our way to the BBC iPlayer and tried to watch a video, but the lack of Flash Player scuppered our chances and attempts to download it resulted in the browser freezing.
On a positive note, this new version of Net TV is so much easier to use than before. The layout of the main menu is gorgeous, using large onscreen ‘buttons’ for each app, all presented in detailed, colourful HD graphics. It’s also much faster to react, plus entering text or selecting links seems to take less time. It’s still not the ideal way to browse the web but better than expected. And if the remote seems too cumbersome to tolerate, then you can connect a keyboard to the front-mounted USB port. Two other interesting features pop up on the spec sheet. Philips has developed a Smartphone app that allows you to control the BDP7600 with an iPhone or Android. And for movie playback, Philips’ CinemaPerfect HD engine works to eliminate noise resulting from the MPEG compression process, sharpening up the image and boosting colours along the way. 3D is all the rage right now and sure enough this player is fully equipped to send 3D pictures to a compatible TV. However, there’s none of the image adjustments or 2D to 3D conversion found on Panasonic or Sony’s latest players – all you can do is turn 3D to Auto or Off in the setup menu. We’ve praised past Philips decks for their ease of use, and it’s great to see the BDP7600 adhering to the same user-friendly ethos.
The all-important Home menu is your jump-off point for any function, basically six icons floating in front of a blue screen. Each one has a simple white icon and a plain-English description (‘browse USB’, ‘browse PC’ etc). It’s responsive and hassle-free. Select Setup and you get a more conventional list, but what we like are the explanations that appear at the bottom of the screen when you linger on them. Also cool are the large white icons that flash up onscreen when you press any playback button. Browsing through USB drives or PC folders is easy enough. The menu box shows various types of content listed down the left. Highlight one, and your files are listed on the right with no annoying hesitation or unnecessary submenus. During disc playback, you can call up a menu at the touch of a button that contains all the frequently used settings and trickplay features. Overall operation isn’t as slick as Panasonic’s latest players but it’s not far behind.
We also love the remote, which looks unlike any handset we’ve seen before. It’s oval shaped, with a curved, gloss-black back panel (which can be removed to fit batteries). It’s a real coffee table talking point, but thankfully it doesn’t put panache over practicality – the button arrangement is uncluttered, logical and considerate.