The BDX3300’s star attractions are the newly-added online services – BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax and Picasa. This is a meagre selection compared with the likes of Sony’s Entertainment Network or Samsung’s Smart Hub, yet Toshiba has clearly gone for the apps it feels will add most value, and the inclusion of BBC iPlayer alone is a real boon. YouTube is useful too, and with Acetrax you get a decent selection of movies to choose from (much better than Netflix, anyway).
With these features, Toshiba’s players have certainly gone up in our estimation since last year, but what doesn’t help their cause is the presentation. There’s no fancy dedicated interface for accessing these services – they’re incorporated into the rudimentary Media Center display under an ambiguously titled ‘Connection’ menu, which lists their names in spectacularly dull fashion. It’s a shame this player couldn’t have taken its cue from the more impressive menus on Toshiba’s latest LED TVs – but that may have taken more processing grunt than Toshiba was willing to shove into a budget Blu-ray deck.
We checked it out and BBC iPlayer works well, loading up content fairly quickly and playing programmes like EastEnders in HD without any glitches. YouTube is harder work due to its sluggish navigation but there are no complaints with video quality. Acetrax’s interface looks great, with brightly coloured movie art and a clear layout – in fact, these GUIs put the player’s own to shame.
As well as Blu-ray, DVDs and CDs, the BDX3300 will play digital media formats via USB. We were able to play MPEG-1, MP4, hi-def AVI, MKV (containing 1080p video), XviD, AVCHD, FLAC, AAC, MP3, WAV and JPEG. In fact the only significant absentees are DivX and WMA – otherwise that’s a really impressive range of formats.
Another nice surprise is that the BDX3300 is DLNA certified and can supposedly play these formats from servers on your home network (PCs, NAS drives etc). The player wouldn’t play ball on our network – our Windows 7 laptop appeared in the list but froze after selecting ‘music’ or ‘video’ so we gave up. We didn’t have this trouble with other players.
It’s easy to access these network features thanks to the inclusion of built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n). We love the fact that Toshiba has put an adapter inside the player rather than making you faff about with an optional dongle. If your internet connection isn’t wireless, no worries – simply hook it up to your router using the Ethernet port.
Elsewhere you’ll find all the Blu-ray player regulars, such as Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio bitstream output and decoding, 1080p upscaling for DVDs and 24Hz output for compatible TVs. Dig into the setup menu and you’ll unearth a couple of other nuggets, such as the Video Adjust menu, which allows you to set the levels of brightness, contrast, hue and saturation in the picture, as well as sharpness presets (Low, Middle and High).