The BDP7300 is also a fantastic picture performer. We started by running through the Silicon Optix HQV tests and the deck passed all of them with assuredness and skill. The Video and Film Resolution Loss test patterns are still and steady, with no strobing in the corner boxes; the moving bars on both Diagonal Filter tests show nary a trace of jaggies or feathering along their edges as they spin round; while the panning shot across Raymond James stadium is as smooth and composed it gets, with no moire noise or loss of detail in the upper stands.
This excellent performance continues with movie playback. Its presentation of ”The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” on Blu-ray is stunning from start to finish – the startlingly sharp opening shot of Cate Blanchett’s aged, wrinkled face is the perfect example of the deck’s excellent detail retrieval, and the lively New Orleans scenery provides plenty of other opportunities for the deck to show off its skills.
It also delivers a convincing colour palette, blessed with natural tones and seamless shading, while its expansive contrast and strong shadow detail gives night-time shots of the city a solid, three-dimensional look. In short, this is a picture performance that you’d expect from a more expensive player.
It does a decent job with DVDs too, coping reasonably well with the darkly-lit, intricate detail of ”Pan’s Labyrinth” at 1080p, although look closely and you’ll spot some noise during several scenes, while some stepping on diagonal lines prevents it reaching the standards of more expensive upscalers. These flaws are also visible on the Silicon Optix HQV DVD.
Piping Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks through an Onkyo TX-NR906 delivers truly breathtaking results, but it’s encouraging that they sound just as good when the BDP7300 is doing the decoding. Benjamin Button’s majestic score, subtle surround work and deep south dialogue are handled with plenty of dynamism and clarity.
Measured against such distinguished Blu-ray luminaries as the Panasonic DMP-BD60 and the Samsung BD-P3600, the BDP7300 just about holds its own. Its hi-def picture and sound performance is outstanding, disc loading is super speedy and the solid set of features makes it feel like good value for money. On the downside, the temperamental WMV playback is a shame and the Samsung’s Wi-Fi connectivity and DivX HD support make it a better purchase.
Score in detail