Toshiba BDX5300 3D Blu-ray Player Review
It’s interesting to see a Blu-ray player from Toshiba if you remember your history: the company was a booster of the HD DVD high-def format from the get-go and made players that, at t he time, were less costly than that of the Blu-ray ilk. Of course Blu-ray won the battle and Toshiba became late to the game with their own BD players. But if you forget all that, you’ll be mighty impressed at the abilities found in Toshiba’s BDX5300 3D Blu-ray Player.
The first thing you’ll notice is how lightweight it is — I can’t remember when I handled a player this light. Some of that lack of weight comes from the exclusion of technology — there’s no fan and if you look at the back you’ll find only three connectors: being an Ethernet port, should you not wish to use the built-in WiFi, a HDMI output for 1080p HD video and a coaxial audio output, should you wish to send the digital audio out independently rather than through HDMI.
The front is also sparse: at one end is the ejectable disc tray and along the right side images which provides information as it relates to what you are doing with the player is displayed. Almost lost to sight is a rubber nub at the extreme right front which hides a USB socket. This can be used for flash drive input for viewing videos and listening to MP3 music. Its use is obvious in the menus (being part of the Media menu) and anyone can figure out how to access the drive in a few minutes. Of course it should not be put in/taken out while the player is “live,” and also it should be noted that such a drive is needed to store info when accessing BD-Live functions on a Blu-ray disc (remember when BD-Live was considered the “next big thing?”). Some care must be taken when moving the rubber cover as it can be broken off if treated roughly.
Setting the BDX5300 up can be extremely easy — you run a HDMI from its output to a HDMI input on the TV and then an Ethernet cable and let all the networking settings get taken care of automatically. And the power plug of course must be plugged in as well.
Should you want to use the WiFI system instead of a wired connection, you’ll need to do the above (minus the Ethernet cable) and then turn the player on. For that, you’ll be using the remote since there’s no buttons on the front — not even an “Eject.” The remote is a conventionally designed “Candy-bar” shape, with all the expected activation choices on it — including a dedicated “Netflix” button and colored ones near the bottom for accessing “Program,” “Digest,” “Zoom” and “Bookmark. What three of these do is worth noting now: Digest functions when viewing JPEG images to let you maneuver between them; Zoom lets you change the magnification of the image; Bookmark lets you save a scene you’re watching in memory to return to quickly at a later time.
Getting back to setting up the BDX5300 using WiFi provides the means to see how the player’s operating system and menus work — the main menus are on the left and when one is selected you then access a secondary menu on the right. Selecting from this menu gives you added choices as to what you can do: for example, you select the Picture settings and then select the aspect ratio and then decide to choose standard-def (4:3) for some reason. Going to the Network menu, select the Internet connection function. Change it to WiFI and then go through a selection of the networks it can see (pick yours) and enter the security password. You’re done.
Other controls and options aren’t worth making a scene over because they’re pretty conventional for a player today — things like screen savers and PIP and controlling the video resolution or letting it be set automatically. Tool around the menus and see what they offer and make your decisions based on how you want the video and audio to come out. Or leave things on default and “Auto” to let the OS deal with things.
Now let’s take a look at the “Smart TV” functions: you have Netflix at your command and the image presented looks as good as you’d expect streaming video to be. Not everyone can get HD Netflix due to Internet constraints, and in my case the standard-definition looks close to DVD quality. The view is similar to my other Netflix-equipped devices so no issues there. The same goes for CinemaNow and Hulu Plus. YouTube is also provided and the quality of the video here will vary widely — but as far as playback goes, again no complaints. The same goes for the imaging when selecting Picasa and what’s to say about Pandora other than it functions as it should and sounds fine — even better when played through an amplification system as opposed to that of the TV’s speakers.
The one place where it can get a bit tricky is in the media server functionality that you can access through your home network. The BDX5300 will accept a data stream from other devices — for example a USB flash drive. But you can also access other DLNA devices, such as from a PC or a mobile device (although compatibility varies). The addition of this feature is welcomed, even if most will only be using the Flash drive for inputting additional content.
Now to get to the real use for Toshiba’s BDX5300 3D Blu-ray Player — playing high-definition video with multichannel audio. Playing Blu-ray discs didn’t cause any grief as the player chugged along playing Harry Potter films in HD quite handily. These films are CGI heavy so that makes for easy checking of artifact issues — I didn’t see any (same goes when I played Hellboy II: The Golden Army). Nor did the Potter 3D disc image look any different on the BDX5300 than it did when playing on my 3D-capable PS3. And to be thorough, I ran a few episodes of the sixth season of Psych. These were in DVD format and the up-conversion went fine. It was obviously not HD quality, but the image was clear, the motion smooth and so one’s existing DVD library won’t be mistreated by this player. The color, be that from a Blu-ray disc or DVD, looked clean and I couldn’t see any bleeding issues — obviously the palette of HD video was more vibrant in comparison to that of DVD.
Bottom line: The Toshiba BDX5300 3D Blu-ray Player costs a paltry $139 retail, yet provides both the basic functions a Blu-ray player must have (1080p video/HD audio), as well as “Smart TV” functions. Add wireless connectivity and other online functionality and there’s no reason why the player can’t serve as the work horse in your home theater.
- 3D support
- Samsung tablet/compatible app control
- Remote buttons very small