Blu-ray Players

Toshiba BDX5200 3D Blu-ray Player


Toshiba BDX5200 3D Blu-ray player In Use

Once the player was up and running, I loaded up some content to watch on my front projection system. The signal was routed through an Integra DHC-80.1 surround processor. I used the passthrough mode for video allowing the player to take care of the video processing duties. Audio was fed via Bitstream HD which assigned decoding to the Integra.

I have never seen more than the most subtle differences between players when watching Blu-ray discs and the BDX-5200 was no exception to that. I saw pretty much the same image I get from my reference Oppo BDP-83 which is always excellent and faithful to the original transfer. I used the same set of movies I had watched for the 55SL417 HDTV review I completed recently so the content was quite familiar.

The Last Samurai is a beautiful movie but not the best Blu-ray out there. Artifacts show themselves here and there in the form of noise and edge enhancement. The Toshiba did nothing to accentuate these problems and the film actually looked quite good. Color and contrast excellent as expected. Le Mans is a very grainy film with a superb Blu-ray transfer and it looked great as usual. No artifacts were observed. Grand Prix is the polar opposite being extremely clean and crisp at all times. The BDX handled this reference-level material beautifully. Motion processing was done correctly in the 24p mode. How to Train Your Dragon was my token CGI title and it looked fantastic. I love the 3D effect these movies impart (I watched the 2D version). Color was rich and bold and contrast was deep with truly inky blacks. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was my final Blu-ray disc and this dark film retained all its low-level detail and depth without issue.

The real separator between most Blu-ray players is DVD performance. Some of us still have legacy discs in our collection. A few titles may never be released in hi-def so good scaling and deinterlacing performance is important. I cued up three titles starting with the poorest quality and progressing to the best. Star Wars, Episode I has always struck me as a below-average transfer, especially given its THX certification. Macro-blocking artifacts abound and detail is generally soft even when played on the best gear. The BDX-5200 did a fair job with this title. My Oppo only had a small advantage here. I don’t know what scaling technology Toshiba is using here but it works pretty well. Detail was about as sharp as it could be and noise was kept to a minimum. Night at the Museum is a little better. It hides its flaws with a saturated color palette and lots of brightly lit scenes. Again I was impressed with the scaling performance of the Toshiba. Detail was excellent and I never saw any processing artifacts. Double Jeopardy is one of the better DVD transfers I’ve seen and this player did not disappoint. Even on a 92-inch screen, I could honestly say I’ve seen worse Blu-rays (Force 10 From Navarone comes to mind). Overall, this is an excellent player to upconvert your treasured DVDs.

While I’m on the subject of video processing, I was highly impressed by the quality of streamed content on this player. My benchmark is the Apple TV which looks amazing even showing Netflix and YouTube. The BDX matches that standard. YouTube videos automatically showed in HD when applicable. I did most of my tests mid-day when ‘Net traffic is light and never had any stuttering or lockups. Netflix continues to impress me as they slowly but steadily improve their quality. Episodes of Medium in HD looked every bit as good as the original broadcasts and better than the DVDs. My only beef, and this is a general one, is the awkward interface anchored by the onscreen keyboard. This is where a Bluetooth or USB unit would be really nice. Searching for videos is a pain when you have to navigate with a standard remote. This is true of every streaming device I’ve reviewed save the Nixeus Fusion HD which supports a keyboard. I’m far from the first reviewer to make this complaint and I imagine at least some companies are working to add this feature. The first to do it will sell a lot of product!