Toshiba BDX2700 Blu-ray Player Review 
Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players
Written by Thomas Spurlin   
Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It’s somewhat bittersweet to cover Toshiba’s BDX2700 Blu-ray player at this juncture, since the last of my HD-DVD discs – and my trusty Toshiba player – have just recently been excised from my home theater.  Slowly, and steadily, some personal favorite films presented on the defeated format have received high-definition treatments on its conqueror, making the switch-over more and more tolerable as I slowly nickel-and-dime my way towards a complete transition.  Toshiba themselves also had apprehension in succumbing to the trend towards Blu-ray’s ascendancy, only releasing their first player, the BDX2000, at the latter half of 2009 to mixed but ultimately optimistic impressions based on its audiovisual merits.  

Since then, the demands for the mainstream Blu-ray player climate have dramatically changed, with more and more users desiring wireless access for convenience, digital file playback, and a need for the player to be a utility knife of sorts with its network features – including implementation of Netflix and other streaming services. Acknowledging that, Toshiba enters into this year’s environment with two new models, their Ethernet-only BDX2500 player and this network-enabled unit, the BDX2700.  When it comes down to it, the Profile 2.0 player justifies its meager $220 price point with excellent video and audio delivery, fluid connection to Wi-Fi access points, and a pleasing interface that, though limited in features, makes the process of flipping through points a satisfying one. There’s one caveat: You’ve got to have patience with its somewhat slow-to-respond, temperamental operations, a trait many players achieve to greater successes.  

Toshiba 2700 front
Out of the Box:

When it comes to appearance, the BDX2700 has gone the way of elegant simplicity.  It’s a refreshing change from the range of players that gussy up their aesthetics with door flaps -- like Toshiba’s own BDX2000 -- and oddly-implemented lights at the front, instead opting for a simple, sleek front. Standard Pause / Play / Power buttons, an SD-card access port, and an LED clock can be found in customary positions, as well as a simple blue Blu-ray light that’s, thankfully, dimmable to blackout levels. Measuring at 2.5 inches high due to the stack-peg pedestals underneath, it’s a bit taller and bulkier than some of the other players on the market right now, while its standard 17-inch width and 8-inch depth are par for the course with modern units. Build quality for the unit seems a bit lighter, low-cost, and less sturdy than what has come to be expected from Toshiba, with their HD-DVD decks standing out with a clearer impressiveness in their construction.  It looks nice, yet it’s also a clunky and slightly bloated-looking unit.

2700 RemoteTo the rear of the unit, Toshiba’s player satisfies with a standard array of digital plug-ins with a nice addendum.  Along with the expected HDMI port and an arrangement of component / composite plugs, it also carries a standard slate of inputs that include a USB port for BD-Live storage (none on-board), an Ethernet jack for non-WiFi users, and an optical jack.  To the right of the unit, in a nice surprise, a set of both 2.0 and 7.1 analog jacks, with which the player can internally decode HD audio tracks.  Disappointingly, the BDX2700 has taken a similar route as its competition in including a built-in power cable, one that’s not terribly long at roughly six feet (6ft) and not easily replaceable if the cord needs switching out. It’s a trend that seems to be the common practice now, though users who have to use extended A/C power cables in their home theater will find it frustrating.

Remote:

As an HD-DVD user, Toshiba’s lanky, rectangular remote – the SE-R0378 – gives off quite a flash of déjà vu. The button arrangement reeks of similarity in layout, size, and structure to Toshiba SE-R0252, obviously with a few additions and changes. Its center dial still sports individual buttons, in a ring around a finicky “OK” button that might be difficult to press for thicker fingers. This time, these small buttons serve as the angle/audio/subtitle toggles and volume control, while the small four circular buttons to the outer corners of the dial activate BonusView, 2nd Audio, 2nd Subtitle, and the dimmer for the LED clock and Blu-ray light on the player. Three large, matte rubber buttons sit on top to control the varied menu options (Home, Popup/Title, and general Menu), while a thin bar of rectangular buttons directly above those toggle assorted settings such as aspect ratio and resolution. Just below the row of standard colored RGBY buttons, the numerical keypad, time progression, and other buttons are in a familiar, standard layout.  No backlight has been affixed within the remote.

Setup:

After hooking up the unit via HDMI and traveling the power cable to the power outlet, the time came to power on Toshiba’s BDX2700 for its setup. Toshiba’s menu design showcases a chic framework that operates on curved design elements somewhat similar to the circular blade design on Universal’s Blu-ray discs. Though attractive, scaling through the options can be a bit cumbersome; though the player fluidly moves from one menu option to another, it takes its sweet time in doing so, and can also aggravate when it branches out into the sub menus. When first utilizing the “Quick Setup” function, the player asks for an OSD Language, a specific resolution over HDMI, and TV Aspect Ratio.
 
That, however, just about sums up the extent of the quick setup, leaving the user to dig through the rest of the features to assemble their preferences. Ultimately, the options are limited in tailoring the BDX2700’s audiovisual and operational workings.  Picture adjustment under the Display function only allows for Resolution, TV Aspect, Film Mode (24p), and Deep Color (On) toggles, while Audio only enables adjustments for PCM Downsampling (96khz), Digital Output (Bitstream HD), and Dynamic Range Control for digital sound. Another menu allows for speaker size adjustment, though it’s mostly to determine whether the surround speakers are actually there and whether full-size stereo speakers are in-use.

Setting up an Internet connection becomes as simple as hitting the red button on the remote, as Toshiba’s infrastructure easily takes the user through the process in a standard, easy-to-follow fashion. After initializing the hookup, it prompts for either a wired or wireless connection, as well as making a network test available to validate the status and strength of the current signal. Selecting “Wireless” leads into a menu for Network List (scan), WPS setup, Manual registry, and IP settings, while the scan ultimately shows the available connections as well as their B, G, N type of communication.  When in the passkey entry menu following this, Toshiba implemented a nice afterthought in the form of two capitalization buttons – one for a single-time caps touch, and other for a full-on caps lock. Seconds later, the unit’s ready for BD-Live communication, and for a firmware update if it’s required.

Performance:

The audiovisual quality of Toshiba’s video players has always been moderately high, so will that trend continue with Toshiba BDX2700? In relation to the price bracket it’s in, it achieves this without question, but not without a bit of reservation about the speed in which it does things. The player’s ability to render sharpness, contrast, and color accuracy stands toe-to-toe with its competitors – namely LG’s BD570 and Sony’s excellent-yet-pricier BD-S560 -- while preserving range of motion over 24fps and film-grain with an exceptional cinematic flare. However, it comes at a price: With the most up-to-date firmware (1.12) installed on the machine, it still operates at a very sluggish and sporadic pace that makes the experience a bit of a hassle. Load times operate at roughly time-and-a-half of that of its contemporary competitors, while the reaction times when pressing the power and eject button can be tedious and unresponsive.

Left side of the 2700

Yet it does, undoubtedly, perform exceedingly well on a technical level, proven at first by Spears and Munsil’s Hand-Forged test disc. When prompted with the opportunity to project black level and sharpness tests, the richness of its contrast and the crisp lines remained very pleasing. Some very, very minor color clipping occurs at the highest red and blue points, but it’s to such a minuscule amount that it wouldn’t matter.  Its ability to combat jagged lines and flow at varied pulldown cadences truly impresses, showcasing a fine capacity for both flavors of deinterlacing. Under the hood and evaluated with a magnifying glass, this player delivers a punch for the price.

In preparation for The Social Network’s release this month, as well as to get into the eerie adult-form of a Halloween mood, it felt like an opportune time to throw two of David Fincher’s films into the Toshiba BDX2700 – Warner Brothers’ recent release of Se7en, and Paramount’s disc for Zodiac.  Both are framed at 2.35:1 in VC-1 and AVC encodes respectively, with rich contrast and fluctuating palettes that render both loud and subdued mannerisms in the cinematography. Toshiba’s player handled the soupy blacks and rich details with a level of sharpness that felt natural yet exceptionally crisp, harnessing the essence of these two mood pieces.  Each one also tested the player’s capacity to push out aggressive DTS HD Master Audio tracks, both on musical fronts and quite a few intense sound effects, and the smoothness and buoyancy of the audio can take one aback.  Exceptionally good.

Connection Panel

Continuing with the mood of the season, I couldn’t resist tossing in Frank Darabont’s The Mist via The Weinstein Company’s double-disc set – the black and white version, mind you, though I also spot-checked the colored version for kicks and giggles.  The 1.85:1 grayscape image, however, is really something to look at here, robustly attacking the textures of intense close-ups of the folks in the store and the intricate destruction of the boat house in the film’s beginning.  It also shows the player’s grace in handling 24fps motion, since the camera rarely stops in the film, and it remains fluid from start to finish.  And yes, the color version’s lush rendering of purple tentacles and an intense, blue-leaning spider fight also looks fantastic.  Again, the audio – this time, in a TrueHD track – matches the visual rendering, thundering to the lower quadrants with some punchy sound effects and shrill vocals.  Again, the Toshiba impresses with its rich HD punch.

To test out a more aggressive, difficult source, StudioCanal’s presentation of Delicatessen seemed like an opportune choice.  The disc offers the film in as sublime a fashion as possible, with intentionally heavy grain, soupy yellow-and-green color timing, and ornate set design. The stylish look about the film holds up exquisitely in the BDX2700, preserving the unusual color and contrast to a high standard while also offering the few instances of crisp HD pop when the disc allows. Though, it is worth noting that the grain intermittently appeared a bit heavier than in comparison to playback in Sony’s PlayStation 3, but not to a displeasing degree. It also tested the player’s ability to render 2-channel Master Audio sound, which it did appropriately and with exquisitely-pitched highs and lows throughout the quirky horror-comedy hybrid. 

Right side of the 2700

BD-Live and BD-Java both operate exceptionally well with this Profile 2.0, WiFi-enabled player, with The Matrix’s BonusView content and Fox’s disc for The Last of the Mohicans as a live-content tester. This player, like most others, will not enable the audio during Picture-in-Picture without switching over to PCM sound instead of the HD track, but the live connection went without a hitch over their connection.  Naturally, the Toshiba BDX2700 is a Region-A locked player, spitting out the RB error message with Fox’s UK copy of the Fountain. This player can, on the other hand, play PAL-encoded special features from region-free discs, as verified by popping in Tartan’s copy of I’m a Cyborg from the UK.

To give standard-definition content a go, episodes of Legend of the Seeker: The Complete Second Season, Lionsgate’s DVD of Princess Kaiulani, and some spot-checking through the two-disc DVD of Se7en were spun in Toshiba’s player. In comparison to the competition, the Toshiba stands out a bit more in the upscaling arena, rendering  extremely tight detail contours that achieved some rather convinced head-nodding from this reviewer.  The desaturated palette and finely-etched minutiae in Fincher’s film looks surprisingly crisp from New Line’s DVD, while the lavish coloring and stylish contrast in the now-ended Renaissance fantasy show looked exceptionally good.  And, as an added point, the player also handles Pal-encoded, region-free discs, verified by a copy of A Bittersweet Life from the UK.  



Music, Media, and Streaming:

As a music device, Toshiba’s BDX2700 actually delivers a healthier punch than expected. 2l Nordic Reference tracks sounded great in both DTS HD Master Audio and PCM concoctions, tested by the Nillson’s SOLO+ (Track 8), Berit Opheim Versto’s “Slatter pa tunga” (Track 9), and the Chamber Music by Elliot Carter (Track 10). The gravity of its sound imaging impressed at both high and low volume levels, presenting succulent alto-level vocal delivery, fluid piano notes, and ravishing flutters of violins across the full sound stage.  CD playback for the same tracks stood up exceptionally well to its high-definition counterparts, while the hearty thumps of drums and rushes of percussion in Weezer’s “Blue” album powered along fiercely – perhaps a little more bass rumble than I’d like, but potent nonetheless.

Along with a USB port to the rear for file access, the BDX2700 also comes with an SD slot integrated into the front panel, directly underneath the power button. It allows for music and image file playback (not for video), naturally to differing degrees based on the quality of the files.  
High-resolution images looked rather well-balanced and crisp on my 55” display, while several music files – both mp3 and m4a – played without a hitch. That includes the piano cues from “Together We Will Live Forever” from The Fountain soundtrack that sounded terrific, as well as the thumping rhythm of Owl City’s “Fireflies” that gracefully tested the bass registry. Though the lack of video file access via storage device might be a downer, though AVCHD files are accessible via disc playback, Toshiba’s navigation and playback of other assorted media impresses.

Streaming on the BDX2700 operates on a similar level to that of other devices, which taps into the player’s sturdy wireless network connection.  Activating and navigating through Netflix feels about like it does on the PS3, prompting to enter a code on the unit to be entered on Netflix’s website.  Toshiba’s array of other streaming services, however, isn’t as plentiful as other devices; it only offers service from the four heavy hitters, Blockbuster, Netflix, Pandora, and VUDU.  

Menu Slide

Pros: Excellent A/V Rendering, Great SD Upconversion, Fluid Wi-Fi Connectivity, Simple Design, Analog

Within its price bracket, the Toshiba BDX2700 delivers in every respect with its audiovisual capabilities. High-definition Blu-ray content naturally impresses, with crisp detail, fine contrast handling, and balanced-yet-stunning color through the Deep Color-capable player, while its standard-definition quality brings your current DVD collection up a few pegs with highly convincing upscaling.  Under the hood, the player’s ability to connect to the internet via wireless signal works like a charm, while accessing files via SD card and USB worked well in the player’s interface. Also, the player arrives with analog audio jacks for non-HDMI users, with the ability to toggle crossover frequencies and speaker size/status via a menu selection.  All this comes in a simple, albeit slightly bulky chassis that veers from front-panel doors and other fluffy aesthetics.  

Cons: Slow Load Times, Erratic Play/Eject Functionality, Somewhat Loud, Inexpensive Design, Clunky Menu

To get to those attributes, however, one must fight through a few hindrances.  For one, the player’s significantly lower at loading in just about every respect, from accessing the root menu on a Blu-ray to flipping between photographs.  It also has issues registering the buttons pushed, leading to a bit of frustrating when the disc drawer won’t eject – as if the button has been pressed twice, when it’s actually only been pressed once. When the content boots up in the machine, the mechanisms inside are a little loud upon spinning the disc, spitting out unobtrusive-but-audible cranks and sputters from a good 7-10 feet away.  And, once the content’s fully loaded, the menu’s sluggishness in moving can hamper the navigation experience.  Finally, it’s worth noting that the build quality of the machine also left me a bit cold, feeling as if the unit might not withstand very much heat or extended bouts with films or music – though it never froze or hitched mid-playback during any of the screening involved.

Final Thoughts:


At the $220 price point, the Toshiba BDX2700 has a bit of stiff competition to combat against in LG’s 570 and Sony’s BDP-S570, both of which are wireless, feature-rich, terrific-quality Blu-ray decks.  However, it handles itself splendidly in the fray, featuring robust audiovisual quality, hitch-free WiFi connectivity, and a cluster of nice addendums in the feature department – including an SD port and analog jacks.  These factors work to mask the somewhat flimsy, inexpensive build quality that might become a factor later in the player’s shelf life, as well as the frustratingly slow reaction times of the player.  Still, with the time spent using Toshiba’s player, it still earns a nod of recommendation for the things it does right in the modern HD spectrum, as long as the issues that complicate its usability don’t escalate.





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