The BDX1500 is Toshiba’s entry-level Blu-ray player, sitting below the midrange BDX2500 and the top-end BDX5500. It’s a straightforward hi-def disc spinner with no fancy networking features, 3D or 4K upscaling, but that makes it perfect if you simply want to watch movies in glorious hi-def – all for a price that’ll barely bother your bank balance.
Despite its low price, the BDX1500 boasts supermodel looks. It’s styled in a sleek gloss-black finish, which is always a winner, while the curvy corners and green light surrounding the power button are stylish visual touches. There’s no display panel, so all the disc information has to be accessed onscreen.
And like most supermodels, it’s astonishingly shallow – 39mm high to be precise – while the 270mm width makes it perfect for bedroom use where there’s usually less space than the living room.
Beyond the stylish façade, however, the BDX1500’s bodywork isn’t all that impressive. It’s light and hollow, the fascia and disc tray feel plasticky and it’s noisy in operation – we picked it up while a disc was playing and a loud whirring and scraping sound emanated from the unit. Then again, none of this is particularly surprising from a player that costs less than a Star Wars Blu-ray boxset.
On the back are just two sockets – HDMI and coaxial digital output – which let you hook it up to an AV receiver or TV. There’s no Ethernet port, which means you can’t access BD Live content, let alone internet apps or DLNA. However, the front USB port supports playback of DivX HD, XviD, MKV, AVCHD, MPEG-4, WMV, MP3 and JPEG files.
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The BDX1500 has the Blu-ray basics covered. It outputs pictures in 1080/24p and supports all the key audio formats – Dolby True HD, DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby Digital Plus, plus regular Dolby Digital and DTS.
But beyond that there’s little else to report, apart from HDMI-CEC and a Video Adjust menu that allows you to adjust the picture brightness, contrast, hue and saturation (colour), plus three sharpness settings (Low, Middle, High).
Given the lack of smart features, the Home menu is a lot simpler than that of the BDX5500, although it shares the intuitive design. A vertical row of cute, colourful icons sits on the left of the screen, including Music, Video, Photo, BD and Settings. Select Settings and the next layer of options pops up on the right, then displays the relevant menu in the remaining screen space. It’s clear and easy to digest.
Hit Photo, Music or Video and it switches to a less attractive box in the middle of the screen, where you can explore content stored on a connected USB device or disc. It’s easy enough to navigate, and files load up surprisingly quickly, but the design isn’t particularly inspiring.
During playback you can press the OSC button and check disc information (title/chapter and running time), change audio format, activate subtitles or use the handy Instant Replay function. A separate Display button shows you the same information in a banner at the top of the screen.
The remote is nicely sized and clearly labelled, although it has a cheap feel and the buttons often require a firm press to register the command. It’s also cluttered and many of the keys are too small. It’s not a patch on the BDX5500’s zapper.
The BDX1500 may be a cheap player but it transports Blu-ray pictures from disc to screen via HDMI as well as any other budget deck, particularly on the sort of smaller TV this deck will no doubt be connected to.
The stunning visuals of Thor: The Dark World look crisp and punchy thanks to the deck’s razor-sharp detail retrieval and superb contrast level.
As the ‘camera’ swoops over Asgard, the richly-detailed CG landscapes look clear and stable. The ornate textures and patterns on the sides of buildings are clearly visible, and they gleam and glimmer in glorious shades of gold. Other details, like individual strands of facial hair and chain mail armour, are rendered with impressive acuity.
Images appear rich and cinematic, just as they should, and colours are competently reproduced. The transition from dark to light shades is smooth and gradual, while skin tones avoid the ‘fell asleep in the sun’ hue that befalls players with an off-kilter colour balance.
We had a play about with the built-in picture tweaks but found them redundant given that the deck’s pictures are fine out of the box.
Moving to our Terminator Salvation disc loading test, the BDX1500 took 34 seconds to start playing this Java-heavy disc from an open tray, which isn’t lightning quick but not an unreasonable wait either.
It also suffered no major problems when handling the tricky video cadences of the Silicon Optix HQV evaluation disc, aside from a touch of flicker on the Film Resolution Loss test. None of this is of great importance but it’s good to know there’s a decent video processor on board, even at this bargain basement price.
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If you need a Blu-ray player for a second TV, perhaps in the bedroom or playroom, and have absolutely no desire for the internet content, network functionality and 3D capabilities found on the step-up BDX5500, then the BDX1500 is worth a punt at this price.
It’s compact and attractive, with a good-looking menu system, impressive 2D Blu-ray pictures and healthy file support from a USB stick. That’s pretty much all you can ask from a player selling for under £60, although do be prepared for lightweight build quality and an unresponsive, cluttered remote.
The vanilla feature list and flimsy build are inevitable for the money, but Toshiba’s likeable Blu-ray deck delivers solid pictures, a sleek design and an attractive menu system.