When you first boot up the player, it helpfully runs through key settings such as the onscreen menu language, resolution and the aspect ratio of your TV. Network setup sadly isn’t part of this process, but the relevant option is easy to find in the setup menu.
But from there on, using the BDX3300 isn’t the blissfully simple experience you get from a Panasonic or Samsung player. For starters, the onscreen menus use a flat colour palette and basic boxes. It all works fine and everything’s easy to follow, yet the onscreen presentation just doesn’t convey a sense of 21st century sophistication as some players do. That applies particularly to the Media Center menu and the online services, which lack the sense of fun of Samsung’s graphics-heavy Smart Hub – here web content is apologetically tucked away in a list.
The remote doesn’t help matters either, with its fiddly, homogenous buttons and a muddled layout that swamps important keys like Media Center and Return. The buttons are also too spongy, requiring quite a forcible press to make the command register. However, there is some salvation in the form of a decent Apple/Android smartphone app that lets you control this player on your device.
Subjectively the BDX3300’s picture performance is excellent. We fired up Rise of the Planet of the Apes and were highly impressed by the deck’s presentation of the super-detailed CG images, resolving tricky features like fur and wrinkles with pleasing lucidity and keeping edges looking clean.
The picture also looks reasonably cinematic, boasting solid blacks and clear shadow detail, best demonstrated by the visible shading and contours within the apes’ fur. That gives the image a pleasing sense of depth. Colour fidelity is also up to scratch – skin tones look realistic and brighter hues are deep and vibrant, such as the luscious green forests during the movie’s opening aerial shots. Add fluid movement into the mix and you’ve got yourself a decent picture performer.
Just be sure to keep the Sharpness setting set to ‘Low’ as it looks a little too forced in the ‘High’ setting. And annoyingly when using the picture adjustments you can’t instantly see the results of your tweaking because they’re only available through the setup menu, which can’t be accessed without stopping the movie.
From a slightly more objective perspective, the BDX3300 handles the Silicon Optix HQV disc’s test patterns fairly well, locking onto the cadences of the Video and Film Resolution Loss tests quickly and rendering moving diagonal lines on the jaggies test smoothly. However, the camera pan across Raymond James stadium looks juddery and there’s some flicker in the lower seats.
As for disc loading, the deck took 42 seconds to start playing Terminator Salvation’s first piece of video after pressing close on the disc tray, exactly the same sort of time as Panasonic and Samsung’s latest players.
The BDX3300’s build quality, onscreen presentation and operation leave a lot to be desired, yet it’s hard not to like a player that gives you valuable online content, built-in Wi-Fi, good format support and DLNA media streaming for just under £80.
In fact, it’s the cheapest new Blu-ray player we’ve encountered that offers Wi-Fi out the box, and for that reason Toshiba deserves plaudits – as well as for its impressive hi-def pictures – yet that lack of build quality and onscreen finesse inevitably feels like a compromise.