As ever our first test was to see how long the player takes to load discs, and the good news is that the BDX1100 fires up Terminator Salvation in around 40 seconds – by no means the fastest we’ve clocked but any deck that keeps it under the tiresome one minute barrier is OK by us.
And it backs this up with enjoyable picture quality, provided you heed our advice about keeping picture tweaks to a minimum. The Dark Knight is positively bursting with detail, making the Joker’s horrific scars and smudged make-up look horribly real, while superb black depth and shadow detailing clearly differentiate the levels of darkness within Gotham City’s underbelly.
It’s also a dab hand with colours, allowing skin tones to retain a natural hue and making the brightly-lit hospital destruction scene look beautifully crisp and vibrant.
We’re not saying it’s completely flawless – there’s a touch of noise here and there, DVD upscaling looks a little untidy and it makes a pig’s ear of some of the Silicon Optix HQV disc’s test patterns, in particular the camera pan across Raymond James stadium, which is juddery and beset by noise. The Film Resolution Loss test also flickers more than we’d like, but it does render the jaggies and Video Resolution tests smoothly.
Tested through a good quality HD audio-compatible receiver and speakers, the BDX1100’s Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio sound quality is fine. Stereo music playback from the analogue outputs is adequate but a little coloured for hi-fi buffs – if you want sparkling music playback, set your sights a little higher than a £70 player.
The BDX1100 is aimed at a very specific buyer – someone who wants a deck simply for playing their Blu-ray collection, perhaps in a second room where space is tight, with no desire for networking, Internet content, extensive media support or 3D.
If that’s you, then you’ll probably be very happy with this player, particularly if you find it for the same ridiculously low £70 price tag that we did, but those who want more from their Blu-ray experience are better off looking to entry-level players from Sony, Panasonic, Philips or Samsung.