The new BDX2700 is the step-up model to the BDX2500 that Toshiba released earlier this year. Its primary addition is integrated WiFi. Neither model supports 3D playback; for that, you'll have to wait for the BDX3000, due later this year. Toshiba sent us a sample of the BDX2700 to test its performance, but let's start with a general overview of the player's features. This Profile 2.0 player supports BD-Live Web functionality and BonusView/picture-in-picture playback, and it offers both onboard decoding and bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The BDX2700 includes Toshiba's Web platform, which on paper isn't quite as extensive as you'll find elsewhere, but it does offer three video-on-demand options--Netflix, VUDU and Blockbuster--as well as Pandora Internet radio. While the Toshiba platform doesn't directly include Picasa, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook or various Web widgets, the VUDU Apps service does provide access to these features. So, the only major Web omission is YouTube. Also, the BDX2700 does not support DLNA media streaming, a feature you can now find on many Blu-ray players.
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In terms of video connections, the BDX2700 offers HDMI, component video and composite video outputs (no S-video). This player supports both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 output resolutions via HDMI. The setup menu does not include video adjustments, like preset picture modes or noise reduction. On the audio side, the BDX2700 has HDMI, optical digital (no coaxial) and both 2- and 7.1-channel analog outputs. As I mentioned, this player has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. You can set speaker size for the multichannel analog audio outputs, and you can choose a crossover setting for the subwoofer (80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz or off).
The BDX2700 supports the BD, DVD-Video, CD audio, AVCHD, WMA, MP3 and JPEG formats. The player lacks internal memory to store BD-Live features; a back-panel USB port and a front-panel SD card slot are supplied for this purpose. Both of these ports also support media playback. The BDX2700 lacks RS-232 or IR ports for integration into an advanced control system.
When I first powered up my BDX2700 review sample, it notified me that the player didn't have a network connection and gave me the option to go right to the network setup page, which I did. I began with a wireless connection and thus had to enter my security information via an onscreen keyboard (WiFi Protected Setup is available, but I use a Mac). The first time I did this, the player didn't successfully connect to my network and took me back to the main menu. It didn't store any of my previously input text, so I had to start all over, which was a bit frustrating. Once the BDX2700 successfully joined the wireless network, it had no trouble reconnecting to it each time I powered up the player. The one oddity I consistently encountered with the WiFi system was that, even when the BDX2700 was connected to the network and running applications without issue, the setup menu showed the signal strength as "None."
The BDX2700's user interface isn't quite as eye-catching as others I've seen, but it does have a clean, logical layout. A Home Menu runs down the left side of the screen and branches off into columns across the screen, making it easy to see your options in each sub-menu. The Home Menu includes two primary choices: Settings (for setup) and Connected (an odd name for Web services). If you insert a disc, an SD card, or a USB drive, the Home Menu adds options for BD-ROM or DVD, Pictures, Music, etc. I found audio, video and other setup to be straightforward, although the option to enable 1080p/24 playback is just called Film Mode, which is vague.
The BDX2700 passed all of my processing tests, both with DVD and Blu-ray content. It correctly handled the test patterns on the HD HQV Benchmark Blu-ray disc (Silicon Optix) and, when set for 1080p/60 playback, cleanly rendered demo scenes from Mission Impossible III (Paramount Home Video) and Ghost Rider (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). Likewise, it did a very good job with test patterns from the HQV Benchmark DVD (Silicon Optix); I was particularly impressed with its clean rendering of all the assorted cadences. Demo scenes from Gladiator (DreamWorks Home Entertainment) and The Bourne Identity (Universal Home Video) were as clean as I've seen them. As for its upconversion of SD content, the BDX2700 produces a good but not exceptional level of detail. I didn't feel that DVDs looked soft by any means, but I have seen other players (usually more expensive) that can do a better job with fine details.
Next, I tested loading speeds with Blu-ray and DVD discs, and the BDX2700 fell in the middle of the pack. Not surprisingly, it was faster than older models I've tested, but it was slower than most of the newer models, from companies like LG and Panasonic. The player responds fairly quickly to remote commands during disc playback, but menu navigation was sluggish. The remote control lacks backlighting and puts a lot of black buttons on a black background, but I found its layout to be logical; you can't program it to control a TV or other A/V devices, so it has no channel or volume buttons. Overall, the BDX2700's build quality is average but on par with other players in this price range; the disc tray is a bit too shallow for my tastes, so discs never seem entirely secure. I do like that you can dim or turn off the blue lights on the front panel, if desired.