Toshiba BDX3200

Normally we’d be all excited about 3D playback, but so far the capability to read 3D Blu-ray discs hardly seems to be a high-end add-on feature at all. Take this so-called “flagship” Blu-ray player from mainstream brand Toshiba; it costs only a few sheckles more than it’s back-to-basic 2D sister, the BDX1200, and it’s not much more advanced.

In fact, so cheap is the BDX3200 - just £130 if you hunt online - that it’s enough to convince us to advise against investing in Blu-ray at unless you’ve got 3D playback options covered. Not that 3D readiness is all that the BDX3200 has to shout about. Nicely designed with a slim chassis (just 42.5mm in height) and with a rather conservative black lacquer finish with mirrored edge, this is a smart device in more ways than one. A small Blu-ray logo sits in the middle of the front panel and glows when the player is switched-on, while a small green LED-lit panel shows a counter and simple menu prompts. It’s not an eye-catching deck, but will suit most living rooms - though build quality should be described as thoroughly average, too.

Able to play DTS-HD and Dolby True HD soundtracks from 2D and 3D Blu-ray discs, the BDX3200 sports a USB slot only on the front. It’s hidden behind a small flap, but here’s the rub: if you're after BD-Live downloads from this Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player you’ll have to live with having a USB flash drive permanently protruding into your den. To do so, insert a USB stick of at least 2GB in size; the BDX3200 will immediately create a folder to stored downloaded content whether or not you actually indulge in BD-Live (does anyone actually use it?).

A protruding USB drive is also an issue if you want to play back digital files, though at least the slot itself is reasonably compliant. MP3, JPEG, AVI (DivX), MOV, AVC HD and MPEG files all played without a hiccup, though MKV (DivX HD) files failed to play despite the BDX3200 proudly wearing the DivX HD logo (we tried several official movie trailers, but no luck).

Around the back is an Ethernet LAN port, but it’s for accessing BD-Live content only and not for DLNA streaming of digital files. DLNA is a feature that’s common on similarly priced Blu-ray players, but whether it’s a feature in demand, we're not so sure; there’s certainly room in the market for a basic 3D Blu-ray player like the BDX3200. Other ins and outs include HDMI, Composite video, coaxial digital audio and stereo phonos, while the remote control - saddled with buttons long left to rot, such as “angle” and “repeat” - is feeble and irritating to use.

Pleasingly quick to load, the BDX3200 gets us going on a 2D presentation of Avatar that’s as deep and detailed as on any deck of this ilk thanks in part to an eminently tweakable video settings menu. The extra dimension is only available on 3D Blu-ray discs - there’s no 2D-to-3D conversion available here - but they’re treated exceptionally well. So clean, detailed and stable are the 3D pictures here that it is difficult to tell this deck apart from machines twice the price. That’s the main reason why, despite its general lack of diverting features, the BDX3200 will suit a lot of homes just perfectly - especially once it hovers around the £100 mark, which won't be long.

What isn't as impressive is DVD and digital files. Both look soft and somewhat dirty, with jagged lines and picture noise apparent.

Verdict

DLNA networking, 3D and BBC iPlayer are widely available on other Blu-ray players, so we see the BDX3200’s future as a back-to-basics deck that won't hold its price for long. That’s great news if you’re simply after a machine that will cover all the bases for a couple of years, though low points include no DivX HD support, a poor remote and a lacklustre user interface. Simultaneously future-proof and “no-frills”, the BDX3200 is one to track for bargain hunters simply after cutting-edge 2D and 3D Blu-ray pictures.

 



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