Anthem has recently expanded its lineup to include its first home theater source component, the BLX 200 Blu-ray player. The BLX 200 was designed to serve as a worthy complement to Anthem's critically acclaimed surround sound processors, in particular the Anthem D2v. At first glance one is sure to immediately notice the familial resemblance between the BLX 200 and Anthem's D series processors. However, at $799 per unit it will take more than a pretty face for the BLX 200 to earn its keep in a world dominated by commodity driven consumer electronics gear.
Behind the clean black face plate with capacitance touch transport buttons is a full Profile 2.0 compliant Blu-ray player. While this is not a universal disc player, the BLX 200 is capable of playing back AVCHD, WMA, MP3, JPEG, AVE and WMV files in addition to standard Blu-ray, DVD and CD discs. The Anthem player's video capabilities include 1080p/24fps, 36 bit Deep Color and x.v. Color support over HDMI 1.3, 12 bit / 162 MHz video DACs, and user selectable output resolution. The latest DTS and Dolby lossless codecs can be decoded internally and be transmitted as 7.1 PCM signal via HDMI for use with any processor that cannot internally decode the new lossless codecs.
The BLX 200 will let you take advantage of Blu-ray disc features such as BD-Live and BonusView. BD-Live provides access to web content and interactive features connected to the disc being watched. The BonusView feature allows for multiple audio video streams such as picture in picture which can be used to watch behind the scenes or commentaries along with the movie.
• The BLX 200's quick disc loading times alleviate one of the most common Blu-ray player complaints. Its loading time appears to be similar to that of the PS3, one of the industry's quickest loading players.
• Video output flexibility allows the user to configure the BLX 200 for the best possible performance in a variety of system configurations.
• The ability to play and view computer audio, video and picture files is very cool.
• Sonically, the Anthem Blu-ray player is a cut above some of the more disposable players.
• The BLX 200 does not have multi-channel analog audio outputs which might tick off some audiophiles who still want to do their audio via an analog connection. Most agree however that HDMI, despite that format's shortcomings, is better today for high end Blu-ray performance.
• The BLX 200 does not have any streaming or networking capabilities which can be found on lesser expensive, more consumer grade machines, thus Netflix, Pandora and other services need to be downloaded through your HDTV, game machine or some other type of component.
• The 2GB memory required to meet BD-Live Profile 2.0 requirements is via a USB drive rather than internally installed into the unit.
The BLX 200 is well suited as a source when used with modern, capable processors such as the D2v it was designed to complement. However, its lack of analog multi-channel outputs means that you will not be able to take advantage of the new lossless audio codecs unless you have an HDMI equipped processor - a problem Anthem can solve for you with the D2v quite nicely. Overall, this is a solid, easy-to-use Blu-ray player suited for mid to high-end home theater systems that are going for the Nth degree of performance over some of the whiz-bang features found on the more flimsy mainstream players.