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Philips BDP7300 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £227
inc VAT

This great Blu-ray player has everything you'll need. It's a pleasure to use and provides excellent DVD upscaling, too.

Blu-ray movies provide HD audio as well as video.

If you’ve recently bought an HD TV, you’ll certainly benefit from the former – just hook up any Blu-ray player over HDMI to enjoy pin-sharp pictures. Audio is often a secondary consideration, though, and even those who have surround-sound speakers may balk at spending at least £350 on a new AV receiver to decode the latest soundtrack formats, such as Dolby TrueHD.

Some Blu-ray players, such as this BDP7300, can decode both Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio, which could save you buying a new AV receiver. It sends the resulting analogue audio to its multichannel output, so check that your amp has a multichannel input before you buy. If so, an older, non-HDMI equipped amp can benefit from HD soundtracks. The BDP7300 supports only 5.1 surround sound rather than 7.1, but this shouldn’t bother most of those who use older AV receivers. We don’t know anyone who’s installed a 7.1 speaker set in their living rooms.

Using our test receiver – the excellent Onkyo TX-SR606 – we compared the audio quality of the BDP7300’s internal decoding with that of the Onkyo when connected over HDMI. We could barely distinguish between the two, and certainly couldn’t pick a favourite.

The BDP7300 isn’t just about HD audio, though. Admittedly, there’s little, if anything, to choose between the image quality of different Blu-ray players when connected via HDMI. DVD upscaling looked excellent, though, with few artefacts in detailed video. Testing with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we also appreciated the BDP7300’s richer-than-usual colour palette.

Blu-ray movies loaded quickly, outstripping even the fastest players we’ve seen. It took just 52 seconds to go from standby to playing our Spider-Man 3 disc – that’s 23 seconds quicker than our previous fastest player. It also loaded the main menu from playback in just three seconds. Better still, there’s barely a whisper when the drive is searching the disk.

It plays footage directly from AVCHD camcorders over USB, and it had no problem playing the BD-R discs we recorded on Panasonic’s DMR-BS750 Blu-ray recorder. Like most new players, it can download BD-Live content from the internet, and it has 1GB of memory for this.

The remote control is excellent. It’s not too big, with rubbery buttons that click when pressed. Pausing or switching chapters is accompanied by huge onscreen symbols that are useful and cool-looking. You can fast-forward and rewind at speeds from x2 to x100.

A USB port on the front lets you plug in flash drives to access media files. The menu system is the same minimal but easy-to-navigate design we’ve seen on many Philips products. It quickly finds media files on any storage device and lists them in the appropriate section – video, audio or photo. The rear of the player has all the usual audio and video connections.

The BDP7300 costs around £70 more than the cheapest players, but it’s excellent if you’ll use its multichannel audio output. Even if you’re happy to use your TV’s speakers, you can justify the cost of this player thanks to its terrific DVD upscaling, fast loading times, great remote and slick media file browsing. It’s our new favourite Blu-ray player.

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