Business decisions are funny things. Take Toshiba for instance, they put all their eggs in the basket of the HD DVD format when it first went head to head against Blu-ray. Things went bad for HD DVD — you see them around anywhere? — and Toshiba ended up withdrawing from the high-def video source device market. For a while.
But that’s in the past and Blu-ray is now. Fans of Toshiba’s well-established “build” quality, as found in any of their consumer electronics products, won’t be disappointed with the availability of the Toshiba BDX5300 3D Blu-ray Player With Built-in Wi-Fi. That’s because it does a competent job of playing discs — Blu-ray or DVD — while providing the additional features that are expected in a player today. And at a price that doesn’t sting in the least.
So we’ll begin with an exterior investigation: the BDX5300 has a nice black finish and doesn’t feel so lightweight as to predicate the idea that it’s a plastic toy. A USB slot hides at the front right forward edge (covered by a tab that will easily break off, as these things are won’t to do unfortunately).
Turning it around you find the expected HDMI and a coaxial/digital output. This can be used to send audio to an amplifier or such — should you not use the HDMI cable to transmit both the video and audio. 1080p high-rez video, with 3D capabilities are part of the mix, as are the Blu-ray HD audio formats (DOlby TrueHD and DTS-HD and of course Dolby Digital). But those looking to use the audio output will need to get the appropriate cable — I’d expect that most folks wouldn’t have one lying around (but a quick trip to Walmart or Radio Shack will take care of that).
An Ethernet port completes the back panel — you can forget about using this wired connection to connect online if you want, since there’s Wi-Fi built in. Meanwhile the full size remote control provides all the needed control over the BDX5300 — there’s no need to press any of the few controls on its front.
Setup is straightforward and simple — you can be done within a half hour, tops. Obviously you run a HDMI cable from the BDX5300 to the HDTV (if it’s not 3D capable, you won’t be seeing 3D), and setting up the Wi-Fi. If you connect via the Ethernet port, all gets done automatically — otherwise you’ll have to tell the BDX5300 such things as the network’s name and password. As is always the case, I find that a wired connection provides the most stable and consistent transfer of data — but plenty use wireless so who am I to argue? To be fair, I didn’t find any issues using the built-in Wi-Fi when streaming films from Netflix and Hulu Plus.
Now I had no problem in using the BDX5300‘s menu — it’s a basic type where selections are brought to the center of the screen, on the left side, as if you are “flicking” icons upward. The corresponding selections are found to the right of the screen: for example, selecting “Connected” shows sub-men choices to the right (Video, Music, etc.).
The built-in Internet connectivity of the BDX5300 supplies a portal to websites such as Netflix, vudu and Cinemanow. Music gives you Pandora and others, while there is also availability for photos (Picasa). Additionally you can access a series of “apps” via a Toshiba portal for additional functionality.
Now to be fair, the menu system might not seem “hot,” but you can move through it rapidly to make the choice you want and then move on. Of course being able to modify the display (brightness, etc.) is there as well as the same for audio and others, like accessing photos, videos or music from a thumb drive inserted into that USB slot mentioned earlier. Frankly, I’d be surprised if anyone needed more than 15 minutes to become fully acquainted with the features the BDX5300 has.
Now as to the performance of the BDX5300 — nothing to complain about. From the physical disc side of things, images look clean and sharp on the screen and the sound comes through fine. To be realistic, for the most part the quality of your HDTV and audio system (if any is used) affect what you’re seeing/hearing as much as the BDX5300’s outputting. I ran a series of DVDs and a number of Blu-ray discs, including the 3D of Wrath of the Titans (advance copy) and I can only say two things really: one is that DVDs of old films that weren’t properly transferred do exhibit some artifact issues but that’s not the BDX5300’s fault. The other thing is that you don’t do a review by playing a 3D movie that you haven’t seen yet. Because by the time you have finished “testing” it — which is to say watching the whole thing — you’re suddenly 2 hours behind in the work. I don’t recommend Wrath to anyone visiting a friend who’s playing it on their 3D HDTV. Because by the end of the film, you’ll be rationalizing ways to get rid of your 2D HDTV in leu of a new 3D model.
Bottom line: A retail of $139 that translates into a street of around $106 makes the Toshiba BDX5300 3D Blu-ray Player With Built-in Wi-Fi a good choice financially. But even better is the quality results the BDX5300 provides when playing Blu-ray discs. Add the 3D, Wi-Fi and Internet capabilities that are built in, and it’s hard to argue against the BDX5300 as being the first high-definition video source player to grace your home.
- Internet capabilities
- DLNA networking capabilities
- No Component output
- Audio output requires a cable not found in many homes
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.