But if you do go online, it’s good to know that you don’t need to leave a USB stick permanently plugged in to store downloads, as there’s 1GB of memory built into the player. That means the USB port on the front panel can be used for the much more interesting task of playing your music, video and photo files. Supported formats include MP3, WMA, DivX Ultra, WMV, XviD and JPEG, and like its predecessors (the BDP3000 and BDP7300) it’ll even play WMVHD files (albeit soundlessly) and AVCHD filmed on hi-def camcorders.
Like most of the latest Blu-ray decks, the BDP7500 can decode Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks and send the signals to your amp through the HDMI or multichannel analogue connections. And if your TV supports 1080/24p, the deck will output movies in that format so you can experience movie at their recorded frame rate.
Scouring the menus for more tasty titbits we find features like Philips EasyLink, which theoretically simplifies control of connected Philips Blu-ray decks and TVs by using only one remote. There’s also a range of picture presets (Vivid, Cool, Action, Animation) and a potentially useful Subtitle Shift feature that lets you move subtitles usually placed with in black bars up when they get cut off by 21:9 TVs and projectors.
Controlling the BDP7500 is a generally hassle-free experience, as it retains the user-friendly onscreen menus that so impressed us on the BDP3000 and the BDP7300. Fire up the deck and the main menu offers just three self explanatory options – Play Disc, USB and Settings – and each one is denoted by a large, cartoon-like icon. The Settings menu fills the entire screen, and if you hover on an option for a couple of seconds a dialogue box appears to explain what it means. Great stuff!
The remote is similarly well thought out, boasting an perfectly-placed ring of rubber menu controls, with the disc playback buttons positioned conveniently below. It’s the perfect size too, fitting comfortably in the palm of your hand, but it’s a shame there’s no backlight.
It’s not all fun and games though. Having used the OPPO BDP-831 as a reference deck for some time now, I love the way it lets you superimpose the setup menu over the film as it plays, which means you don’t have to stop the movie and potentially lose your place. The Philips affords you no such luxury, and when playing discs with no resume mode it can get quite annoying when you have to make frequent tweaks. You do, however, get an onscreen display when you hit Info, which shows you the elapsed/remaining running time, title and chapter.
What did impress us about the BDP7500 is how fast it operates. Hit fast forward and it starts scanning straight away; plus, disc loading is super fast – Spider-Man 3 started playing in less than 30 seconds.