- Review Price: £199.99
There was a time when the idea of a Blu-ray player bearing the Toshiba badge seemed as far fetched as Steven Gerrard signing for Everton, due to the company’s die-hard dedication to its HD DVD format – which, in case you’ve been living on Saturn for the past five years, was the loser in the hi-def format war.
But things change, as they say, and here we are looking at the first results of Toshiba’s decision to turn over to the Blu side earlier this year, a grudging yet inevitable move given the format’s growing momentum.
The BDX2000 is a BD Live-enabled deck, which is light on the sort of frills we’ve enjoyed on the LG BD390 and OPPO BDP-831 but offers all the essentials for an eye-catching price, and provided there are no picture slip-ups this could be a decent Blu-ray baptism for the much-loved Japanese brand.
In the Blu-ray beauty pageant, the BDX2000 might not bag the tiara but certainly merits a sash and a bunch of flowers. It lacks the full-on wow factor of your Samsungs and Pioneers, but still possesses a glitzy charm that will look great underneath any TV. Toshiba has concealed all the clutter behind a beautiful ‘smoked mirrored’ drop-down front panel, which gently slopes forward to create a nice angular effect.
Behind it you’ll find four playback buttons, an LED display panel that’s a million times more useful than the one found on Toshiba’s DVD players, and an SD card slot. We hoped the latter was included purely for media playback purposes but sadly not – it’s also there to provide the required 1GB of memory for BD Live storage, which isn’t built-in.
Rear-panel connectivity doesn’t go beyond the basics – for video you get HDMI, component and composite outputs, and for audio you get analogue stereo and optical/coaxial digital outputs. But if you want to be transported to the hi-res promised land offered by Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, you’ll need an AV receiver equipped with HDMI inputs, as there are no multichannel analogue outs. The deck will kindly convert these formats to PCM if you wish (which is necessary when playing back BonusView picture-in-picture material) or if you do have an amp with HDMI v1.3 sockets and the relevant decoding, you can simply output the raw bitstream.
Next up is an Ethernet port, which is vital if you want to download or stream BD Live content, but this is an inconvenient and clumsy method of connecting to the web. LG’s BD390 leads the way in terms of Internet connectivity with its built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi module, and sadly the Toshiba feels archaic in comparison.
The same can be said about the BDX2000’s media format support. It’ll play MP3, WMA, JPEG and AVCHD from SD cards (8MB – 2GB), SDHC cards (up to 8GB) or disc, but that pales in comparison to the exhaustive list offered by the LG. It won’t support DivX HD, MKV or AAC, which might not be of great importance to you but it does illustrate how some players are willing to go the extra mile to earn your hard-earned cash.
At least the BDX2000 doesn’t overlook any of the basics. It will output Blu-ray video in its native 1080/24p format, which should result in judder-free playback on a compatible display, and will upscale DVDs to 1080p. But it’s very disappointing to find that Toshiba hasn’t included its XDE processing to enhance the DVD side of things – this impressive technology proved very successful on its XDE-600 DVD deck, and could have really given this player an advantage over similarly-priced Blu-ray players, but its absence is a missed opportunity. Hopefully we’ll see it introduced into subsequent models.
As for the remaining features, fans of x.v.Colour, Deep Colour and Regza Link (we know you’re out there) can breathe a huge sigh of relief with the news that all three are supported, while the presence of a two-stage Virtual Surround mode and Noise Reduction is sure to cause spontaneous outbursts of excitement among pockets of the AV community.
The onscreen interface is no great shakes but perfectly usable. Although the icons are jazzier and the general layout has been tweaked, the menu options and submenu structure are similar to the Marantz BD7004 we looked at recently, and by association some Denon players.
The setup menu is broken down into Custom, Quick and Initialise sections which is a tidy way of doing things, and makes it easy to find the option you’re looking for. Network setup is easy if you’ve got a DHCP router as the IP address is assigned automatically, but even if you have to punch it in manually the menus make it pretty straightforward.
The display that appears when you hit the Mode button on the remote is also similar to the Marantz deck, although you don’t get any picture adjustments. Everything is controlled by a dull yet functional remote, which is similar to Toshiba’s DVD/HDD recorder zapper but with better button placement.
On the whole the BDX2000 isn’t the slickest Blu-ray deck we’ve ever encountered. It’s a bit sluggish to respond to some remote commands, particularly when pressing the Rev/Fwd keys or entering the setup menu – which, coincidentally, can’t be accessed without stopping the movie first. It’s also well down the rankings in terms of Blu-ray disc loading speed, taking around 30 seconds to even recognise the disc, then taking a further 30 to reach ”Spider-Man 3’s” Sony Pictures sting.
In terms of picture performance, though, the BDX2000 is most definitely up to scratch. Beautiful 1080p transfers like ”Spider-Man 3” are passed to the screen with all of their detail and luscious colour saturation intact, without any obvious problems.
The deck renders the image with an intense sharpness during bright scenes like Spidey’s broad-daylight barneys with Sandman, but copes expertly with dark scenes too. Particularly impressive is the clarity it brings to the shot of Peter and Mary lying on a web in the woods, and when the alien gunk creeps onto the back of Peter’s scooter, its inky blackness is starkly juxtaposed with the darkness surrounding it. Class.
To get a more objective perspective we loaded up the Silicon Optix Blu-ray and were very happy with the results. None of the tests caused it any major problems – it locked onto the cadence of the video resolution test straight away, rendered the jaggies test bars with smooth edges and dealt with video noise effectively. Only flickering on some of the boxes during the film resolution SMPTE pattern gave us any cause for concern, which funnily enough is the exactly the same problem that beset the Marantz BD7004.
It also does a respectable job of upscaling DVDs to 1080p, although as mentioned earlier the inclusion of XDE would have no doubt turned a good upscaling performance into a great one.
Digitally-transferred audio is problem-free and sounds superb through our test system, and when using the stereo outputs to play music, there are no complaints with the well-balanced sound on offer.
When all is said and done, we can’t help feeling a little underwhelmed by the BDX2000. Perhaps it was unreasonable to expect something earth shattering given Toshiba’s relatively late entry into the Blu-ray game, but even still we expected something more compelling than the unremarkable deck we have here.
Don’t get us wrong; when it comes to the core Blu-ray player duties there’s nothing particularly wrong with the BDX2000 – it delivers crisp pristine hi-def pictures to your TV, plays the main digital media formats via SD card and sports an agreeable operating system.
But while the lack of exciting features like Wi-Fi and web streaming is forgiveable, particularly as the Toshiba BDX2000 is some £50 cheaper than the LG BD390, the big disappointments are its sluggish load and reaction times and that it didn’t come equipped with XDE, the inclusion of which should have been a no-brainer.
So not a memorable entree into the world of Blu-ray from the inventor of HD DVD, but maybe it has something special up its sleeve for future generations. A Net Player/Blu-ray combi perhaps? Let’s hope so.
Score in detail
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