|Philips BDP7200 Blu-ray Player|
|Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players|
|Written by Adrienne Maxwell|
|Sunday, 01 June 2008|
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Although the BDP7200 does a nice job of up-converting standard-definition DVDs, its processing of high-definition source content is questionable. When outputting 1080p/60 via HDMI or 720p via component, the player passes the video resolution loss test on my HD HQV Benchmark Blu-ray disc (Silicon Optix), which means it correctly de-interlaces 1080i signals; however, it fails the film resolution loss test, which means it doesn’t detect the 3:2 sequences in 1080i film-based sources. On its own, this isn’t a huge concern, since the majority of Blu-ray content is native 1080p anyhow. Many Blu-ray players that fail the film resolution test do a perfectly fine job with real-world 1080p movies. To test real-world performance, I use chapter eight of the Mission Impossible III Blu-ray (Paramount Home Video), which begins with priests descending a wide staircase. A Blu-ray player with good processing will reproduce the staircase cleanly. Unfortunately, the BDP7200 produced consistent moiré and shimmer in the stairs. When I switched the player to 1080p/24 output via HDMI, the scene looked fine, so you can bypass this issue if your TV accepts 1080p/24. However, not all TVs do. Component video users might be better off outputting 1080i – unless your TV’s 1080i processing is also poor, and then you’re out of luck.
While we’re on the subject of 1080p/24, I understand the benefit of the Auto 1080p/fps mode for the average consumer, but I personally prefer players that offer both 1080p/60 and Source Direct modes. That way, I know exactly what I’m getting and can switch easily between the two for comparison. On a related note, while I appreciate the inclusion of a front-panel resolution button, the BDP7200 doesn’t let you change resolutions while a disc is playing, and I’d prefer a button on the remote. Then again, most people don’t need to switch resolutions as often as a video reviewer does.
The BDP7200 doesn’t introduce blatant noise into the picture, but I still experimented with the noise-reduction controls to see how they affected image quality. The video set-up menu includes four noise-reduction options: off, MPEG NR, 3D NR and Combo MPEG/3D. The MPEG NR and Combo modes soften the image so dramatically that I can’t imagine why you would ever use them. The 3D NR option isn’t quite as bad, but it still robs the picture of fine detail, so it’s best to leave the noise-reduction feature turned off, as it is by default. The player does introduce some actual noise into your theater space, however: I could hear the BDP7200 humming from across the room. Admittedly, that was with the audio muted, but the player is definitely louder than the last few models that have passed through my doors.
Finally, the lack of an Ethernet port means you can’t access BD-Live Web content on Blu-ray discs. This has been a common criticism of most Blu-ray players in the past. The difference now is that we will see several Ethernet-enabled players this year; some will support BD-Live out of the box and some will support BD-Live with a future firmware upgrade. The BDP7200 does neither.
There’s a lot to like about the BDP7200. It’s a relatively quick and very stable Blu-ray player that’s easy to set up, easy to use and easy on the wallet. It ably handles BD-Java interactive features and has PIP functionality. Most importantly, it produces an attractive 1080p/24 image, does a solid job of up-converting SD DVDs, and passes high-resolution bitstream audio over HDMI. I’d like to see internal Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD decoding and better HD processing, but you can work around these limitations. Ultimately, the lack of an Ethernet port is the make or break issue. If you really want access to BD-Live Web content, that functionality is available now in the Sony PlayStation 3, or you can wait for one of the Profile 2.0 players that’s coming soon. However, if Web content isn’t that important to you and you’d like to enjoy Blu-ray right now, the Philips BDP7200 is a good all-purpose player offered at an attractive price.