Test Report: Toshiba BDX2700 Blu-ray Player

Key Features
$200 ($250 list) tacp.toshiba.com
• Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) Blu-ray player
• Streams content from Netflix, Blockbuster, Vudu, Vudu Apps, and Pandora Web services
• Built-in Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
• 7.1-channel analog audio output
• SD and USB ports for BD-Live functionality and playing video, photo, and music files
• Connections: HDMI, component, and composite video; optical digital, 7.1-channel analog, and stereo analog audio; SD card slot, USB port, LAN Dimensions
Weight: 17 x 21¨M2 x 81¨M4 in; 4 lb

With Internet-connected HDTVs and Blu-ray players now commonplace, you may stop and wonder which is the better option. To wit: Does it make a difference whether you stream media from your player or directly from your TV?

The short answer is, yes, it does. As a custom installer, I’ve found that a Blu-ray player is usually the best choice to originate Web-based content in any system, for a simple reason. Movies, videos, and music streamed by a player can easily be fed to a sound system via the player’s HDMI or other digital audio output, while the soundtrack of any content streamed directly to the HDTV would first have to be routed back to the audio system from the TV’s analog or digital audio output. That can be a pain when you’re hanging a TV a distance away from the rack, and it uses up another input on your receiver unnecessarily while complicating operation.

That said, choosing a Blu-ray player these days tends to be more about the breadth of content it offers and its graphic interface, or even its mechanics, than it is about image quality. Nearly all brand-name players deliver superlative picture and sound, so you should really focus on the user experience when making a buying decision. With this in mind, I uncrated Toshiba’s new top-end streaming Blu-ray player, the BDX2700, and wondered what surprises I might find at the end of its Ethernet connection.

Out of the box, I found the BDX2700’s looks to be fairly pedestrian, though it’s spruced up by a “floating” translucent faceplate with beveled edges on the top and bottom. To its credit, Toshiba skipped the annoying flip-down front panel I’ve seen on a lot of players lately and made everything easily accessible, including the disc tray and some basic buttons for On/Off , Eject, Stop, and Play. An SD card slot is on the bottom right that, along with a USB port on the back, allows playback of video, photo, and music files or the addition of required memory for BD-Live functionality.

Unlike some newer players, the BDX2700 is not DLNA-compliant, so you can’t use it to stream directly from computers or other sources on your network. Nor is it 3D-compatible, though few players are at this point. One small design oversight that bugged me was that the Blu-ray logo centered on the front panel burns blue with such intensity that it’s actually a distraction in a darkened room. Fortunately, a Dimmer button on the remote will extinguish it; unfortunately, you’ll have to lose the front-panel numeric/information display along with it. (There’s no in-between setting for the logo light the way there is for the numeric display.)