Not too long ago, if you'd asked us to make a list of things we thought were unlikely to happen in the field of technology, then -- right up by the top, next to Sony releasing something that uses non-proprietary standards -- would be Toshiba selling a Blu-ray player. Technology geeks will know that Toshiba once championed its own high-definition format, HD DVD, which was beaten by Blu-ray in a protracted . Toshiba initially indicated that it wouldn't produce a Blu-ray player, but eventually it realised that it needed to provide a player to complement its HD televisions.
Available for around £130 or so online, the Toshiba BDX2000 is aimed at the entry-level end of the market, and has some pleasing extras that are likely to make it popular with people looking to get into HD movies. It's also quite likely that people buying a Toshiba TV will be offered this player at either a discount or for free, to encourage them to take the HD plunge. Let's find out if it's any good.
A sweetened deal
To encourage people to buy the BDX2000, Toshiba is offering a year's free subscription to if you shell out before the end of March 2010. The LoveFilm subscription is worth about £8 a month and allows you to have two Blu-ray or DVD movies at home at any one time, up to a limit of four each month. If you add it up, the LoveFilm subscription is worth £96, so, with the player costing just £130, it's a pretty sweet deal.
The other advantage is that you'll get to watch Blu-ray films without having to pay big bucks to build up your movie collection. If you're in the market for a Blu-ray player, and the LoveFilm offer is still running, then you should give the BDX2000 some serious thought.
We're also pleased to see that Toshiba has continued its habit of including an HDMI cable with its HD players. Not all companies do this, but they should.
Stylish and petite
The BDX2000 looks pretty decent. It uses the 'half-depth' form factor, which can make it tricky to integrate into a home-cinema system if you're planning on stacking larger items on top of it. But it's also a compact player in terms of depth -- at just 231mm deep, it isn't going to take up too much of that precious real estate underneath your TV.
To keep the player looking neat and tidy, Toshiba has opted to use a drop-down, drawbridge-style front panel. Beneath this are located all the usual buttons, along with the disc tray and an SD-card slot (more on this later).
The controls on the player itself are fairly basic: power, pause, stop, play and eject. They might prove useful if you lose the remote, though, or if you happen to be changing a disc and want to start the arduous Blu-ray loading process before you go and sit down.
Slow load times
When we come to test disc-load times, we always do so with a heavy heart. Blu-ray is, even now, a mess of a format. The Java platform it's built around is one of the most sluggish things we've ever seen, with almost all players needing more than 40 seconds to load and start playing a disc. Sadly, the BDX2000 is one of the slowest players we've tested, taking 1 minute and 22 seconds to start playing our test movie, Vantage Point.
On the plus side, the BDX2000 manages to do a superb job once the Java interactive features are loaded. Another of our test discs, Zombieland, was responsive to our navigation commands, and we were more than happy to flick around the various menus.