Toshiba BDX2400 £69
19th Jul 2013 | 15:54
Entry-level Blu-ray player ain't smart
The Toshiba BDX2400 is a tiny Blu-ray player, measuring just 290 x 180 x 36mm (11.4 x 7.1 x 1.4 inches) and weighing a mere 800g (1.76lbs). It has BBC iPlayer and HD Blu-ray features. All for an asking price of £69/US$129.99 (around AU$115). And yet Toshiba's entry-level Blu-ray player for 2013 isn't much fun to use.
Smart in both looks and features, this matt black plastic-adorned box looks like a Freeview box or a portable DVD player - it's impressively slim and small.
On its side is a USB slot capable of playing video, while the rear of the machine is home to just three more ports for HDMI, coaxial digital audio (a change from the usual digital optical) and a wired Ethernet LAN slot. The latter enables DLNA networking from nearby PCs, but flags up the absence of a Wi-Fi module inside.
Those after Wi-Fi ought to spend the extra money on the step-up Toshiba BDX3400, which also adds Miracast (streaming from an Android phone). Miracast is flagged up on the Toshiba BDX2400's on-screen menus, but it's listed as 'not available yet', even though it never will be.
All the major surround sound formats are here on the Toshiba BDX2400, including Dolby Digital True HD and DTS Master Audio, while the deck can output in PCM or bitstream.
If you think the always-on green circular light around the standby switch could get annoying, you've seen nothing yet. The Toshiba BDX2400 is blessed with one of the dreariest user interfaces around, and its simple carousel of low resolution icons on the left-hand side of the screen aren't much helped by the lightweight remote control.
In practice it's fairly unresponsive, and we had to hit a few buttons a number of times before anything happened. Everything on the Toshiba BDX2400 happens a second after it should.
If that's not a great start, the Toshiba Cloud Portal screen is a pleasant surprise, even if it does take a while to load, doesn't have its own button on the remote control, and is rendered in a rather low resolution.
It boasts a basic readout for the current weather and temperature below a grid for app icons ranged around a couple of pretty pictures of an iceberg and the Louvre museum in Paris. Eh?
At least the choice of apps is good. Top billing goes to BBC iPlayer, of course, but it's also got Acetrax movie streaming and Netflix, the BBC News app, Picasa and YouTube. YouTube is supplied in its all-new Lean Back flavour, though in our test the category icons were constantly bunched up so as to be almost unreadable, while some of the virtual navigation controls appeared in the middle of the screen during video playback.
No such problems bug the BBC iPlayer, which loaded quickly and played Top of the Lake in HD smoothly and stably. It was also quick to zip around, and navigating proved easier than using the Toshiba BDX2400's other functions.
Some will miss a Lovefilm app - and any semblance of an 'app store' for downloading new apps - though the Toshiba BDX2400 puts some flexibility back into the mix with its functional USB slot.
Choosing My Video, My Music or My Photos for some reason ceases the Portal screen in favour of a rudimentary interface, though we did manage to get all the major formats to play, including MKV, AVI, AVC HD (albeit with the odd fuzzy diagonal edge) and MP4.
JPEG slideshows were speedy, while the Toshiba BDX2400 also deals in the lossless WAV and OGG (though not FLAC) music formats, as well as MP3 and M4A. Rely solely on DLNA networking and you'll have to forgo MKV playback. That USB slot also powers basic BD Live features if fitted with a USB flash drive that's then formatted by the Toshiba BDX2400.
However, put a CD in the Toshiba BDX2400 and it's immediately obvious that there's no display on the front, and unfortunately the disc doesn't start automatically. Add an unresponsive remote and a relatively slow deck, and we weren't sure whether we were trying to play or pause a CD. It took us multiple minutes to get anything from the Toshiba BDX2400 - it's a poor choice for those wanting to listen to CD collections. Incidentally, Blu-ray discs load and play in around 15 seconds.
It's hardly fun to use, but the Toshiba BDX2400 does spit out some decent HD video.
Both DVD and streamed video - in this case from the The West Wing and the BBC News app - were upscaled to some extent, largely cleaning them up, though both looked soft on our 40-inch TV, and displayed some stepped edges. Still, both looked better than most standard-definition digital TV channels.
During our 2D Blu-ray test with both a 46-inch TV and a projector, edges on our test disc Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon held together and motion was impressively smooth in 24p mode.
Colours are on the muted side, though well saturated, and while close-ups retain a lot of detail, we have seen more precise performances. Night-time scenes lacked a little shadow detail and can look a little empty, but overall it's hard to argue with for this kind of money.
The Toshiba BDX2400 is a budget Blu-ray player with BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube. It's otherwise as basic as it gets, and can be a pain to use, but if you're after as low cost an option as possible, this unobtrusive deck is just about capable of dragging your living room into the smart era.
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The low price is nice, as is the choice of core apps, while USB playback is flexible and impressive. However, it's the BBC iPlayer app that's the highlight, since it's speedy and an all-round delight to use.
There's a clean look to lower quality sources, while images from Blu-ray are full of detail. We also like the Toshiba BDX2400's tiny size - two could easily fit side-by-side on an AV rack.
Any so-called smart machine needs Wi-Fi, in our opinion, but the Toshiba BDX2400 has other problems. A slightly repetitive, hugely basic and slow to navigate user interface is the biggest problem. We're just not sure why it needs both a Portal screen for apps and a separate carousel of settings, since almost everything is just replicated. It's here the R&D costs have been slashed.
But the biggest issue is with the remote control, which is unresponsive and generally irritating to use. Even the relatively pleasant Portal page takes too long to load. There's also a bug in the YouTube app, which is a shame considering that there are only six apps available.
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It looks so much like a set-top box and puts such an emphasis on its apps that its Blu-ray disc tray is something of an afterthought, but it's nevertheless with HD discs that the Toshiba BDX2400 excels.
However, given that most people are after a Blu-ray player primarily to give their TV a smart dimension without having to upgrade, we're not sure the Toshiba BDX2400's BBC iPlayer and Netflix apps are quite enough. Even for those who are happy with that double act, the poor remote control will add a layer of frustration that's not worth saving a few quid for.
If you're on a limited budget but can stretch up to £100 or so, consider Toshiba's flagship BDX5400 deck. For the extra spend you'll get 3D playback and a glosser design that uses aluminium, though it's got the same tiny dimensions.
However, if you can spend that kind of money it would be silly not to at least test-drive the Samsung BD-F6500, which has an altogether smarter interface and an unrivalled selection of apps that includes Lovefilm, BBC Sport, BlinkBox and 4OD.