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Toshiba BDX5200 review: Toshiba BDX5200

Toshiba BDX5200

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Matthew Moskovciak
Matthew_Moskovciak.jpg

Matthew Moskovciak

Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater

Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.

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4 min read

Toshiba BDX5200
6.0

Toshiba BDX5200

The Good

The <b>Toshiba BDX5200</b> has built-in Wi-Fi, 3D compatibility, a simple user interface, and a few high-quality streaming-media services, including Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora. It's also less expensive than many competing midrange Blu-ray players.

The Bad

Competing Blu-ray players have more streaming media services and more features, including DLNA compatibility and smartphone control. The BDX5200 is also considerably slower than other midrange players, especially at disc-loading. We also experienced spotty Wi-Fi performance in our testing environment.

The Bottom Line

The Toshiba BDX5200 costs a little less than competing midrange Blu-ray players, but you'll miss out on worthwhile extra features and speedy performance.

Toshiba isn't the first name you think of when it comes to Blu-ray, but the former backer of the now-dead HD-DVD format currently offers a full line of 11 Blu-ray players. The BDX5200 is one of the company's midrange models, offering built-in Wi-Fi, 3D compatibility and a modest suite of streaming media services, including Netflix, Pandora and Vudu. It's also currently available at a bit of a discount compared to other midrange Blu-ray players, with a street price under $140.

That will save you some extra cash compared with our top-rated midrange players like the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 and LG BD670, but you're giving up quite a bit. The BDX5200 is considerably slower than typical 2011 Blu-ray players, it offers fewer streaming media services and lacks common features like smartphone control and DLNA compatibility. We also had some issues with the Wi-Fi in our testing environment, where we've successfully tested many other Blu-ray players and other Wi-Fi products. If you're on a very tight budget, the BDX5200 is a passable Blu-ray player for less money than most competitors, but most buyers will be better served spending a little more for one of our better-rated Blu-ray players.

Design
The only thing that saves the BDX5200 from completely generic looks is its two-tone black and gray finish. There's virtually nothing on the front panel, save for an SD card slot on the right and the disc tray on the left. With no physical buttons, front-panel control is handled by illuminated touch-sensitive buttons that appear left of the SD card slot.

Toshiba BDX5200 front panel
The lack of buttons looks cool, but it makes the BDX5200 harder to use.

We generally prefer physical buttons and the Toshiba's touch-sensitive keys are a good example why. The buttons aren't always illuminated, so you need to press the general area of the buttons to get them to show up in the first place. And if you're not familiar with the player, you're likely to have no idea how to eject a disc or stop a movie. The lack of buttons may make the BDX5200 sleeker-looking, but they also make it more difficult to use.

Toshiba BDX5200 remote
The include remote is decent, with its Netflix button being the highlight.

The included remote is a mixed bag. It gets a lot of important functions right, with the eject and power buttons nicely positioned at the top, and we love the dedicated red Netflix button. The rest of the functions don't fare as well. The playback controls (play, fast-forward, etc.) are too small and standard Blu-ray buttons like pop-up menu don't surround the directional pad, which is the standard arrangement. Unlike most other midrange Blu-ray players, the BDX5200 can't be controlled by a smartphone app, so you're stuck using standard remote or a universal model.

User interface
Toshiba's user interface doesn't have the visual appeal of those from Panasonic and LG, but it's simple to use. Unlike competitors that force you to load an entire content portal to browse streaming media services, the BDX5200 can access the services right from the main menu.

Toshiba BDX5200 user interface
The BDX5200's user interface isn't pretty, but it's simple to choose a streaming service.

Toshiba BDX5200 user interface
The BDX5200 features the most up-to-date Netflix user interface.

The Netflix interface is the most recent incarnation, allowing you to search for movies and browse for titles not in your instant queue via genre. Overall, Toshiba's streaming media experience is straightforward, but it's easier for Toshiba to be simple since offers fewer total services than competitors.

Features

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key Blu-ray features
Wi-Fi Built-in 2D-to-3D conversion No
3D Blu-ray Yes Onboard memory No

The Toshiba BDX5200 has a few premium features (built-in Wi-Fi, 3D Blu-ray support), but it lacks features available on some other models, such 2D-to-3D conversion or onboard memory. We wouldn't worry about missing either of those. In our opinion, 2D-to-3D conversion is little more than a gimmick, and onboard memory is only used for BD-Live features, which we never find ourselves using.

The BDX5200 also lacks DLNA compatibility, which is considered standard on midrange Blu-ray players. That means you won't be able to stream media from a networked PC, although you can put those files on a USB thumb drive or SD card to be played back by the BDX5200.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Streaming media features
Netflix Yes Pandora Yes
Amazon Instant No Napster No
Vudu Yes Picasa No
Hulu Plus No Facebook No
MLB.TV No Twitter No
YouTube Yes Weather No

Toshiba's suite of streaming media services hits a lot of the major services we like (Netflix, Vudu and Pandora), but it pales compared to other midrange Blu-ray players. If you're interested in services like Amazon Instant, MLB.TV and Picasa, you'll have to go with another player. Check out our detailed comparison of streaming content portals for details.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Connectivity
HDMI outputs Single Analog outputs Stereo
Component video output No Digital audio outputs Coaxial
USB ports 1 SD card slot Yes

The Toshiba's output selection is pretty standard, although the inclusion of the SD card slot is nice for quickly viewing photos from a digital camera. The lack a component video output is not a major loss since even players that have a component out are limited to 480i resolution, due to annoying AACS rules.

Blu-ray disc load times and player speed
Average seconds Composite score
Disc loading 51.35 Disc loading 69
Netflix 33.95 Netflix 86
Navigation 8.02 Navigation 98
CNET speed rating 78
Higher composite scores indicate faster performance, with an average 2011 Blu-ray player having a composite score of 100. For more information, see our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.

CNET speed rating
(Longer bars indicate faster performance)

The Toshiba BDX5200 has a CNET speed rating of 78, which means it's significantly slower than an average 2011 midrange Blu-ray player. It lags behind competitors the most when it comes to disc-loading, taking longer with both standard movies and movies with extensive menu systems. While it's average on standard navigation tasks, it's also slow loading Netflix--both loading titles and getting to the main Netflix screen. (It's also worth noting that our speed tests are done using a wired connection, so the wireless troubles we had didn't come into play here.)

The main takeaway is that if speedy performance is important to you, the Toshiba isn't a good choice. If you're interested in all the details about the BDX5200's speed compared to other 2011 players, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the load times section.

Image quality
We put the BDX5200 through our full battery of image quality tests, but before we get to the results, let's be perfectly clear--we don't think most buyers should worry about image quality when deciding what Blu-ray player to buy. The differences, especially on the Blu-ray side, range from minute to nonexistent, and even DVD performance is very close between players. The only exception is for people with home theater projectors, where you may actually see a difference on a 100-plus-inch screen. In that case, it may be worth shelling out for a reference-level Blu-ray player like the Oppo BDP-93.

If you're into the nitty-gritty image quality details, again, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the performance section. For more information on our testing procedure, consult our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Blu-ray image quality: test patterns and program material
Film resolution Pass "Ghost Rider" Pass
Video resolution Pass "Mission: Impossible III" Pass
Text overlay on film Fail "Sunshine" Pass
Cadence tests 8/8 "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" Fail
Chroma zone plate Pass "NIN Live: Beside You In Time" Pass

The BDX5200 passes the vast majority of test patterns and program material tests we threw at it. We wouldn't worry about the few failures. Yes, we could see some tearing artifacts in the background of the "Tony Bennett: American Classic," but unless you're looking for it, you probably won't notice. For the vast majority of Hollywood movies shot on film, you'll see identically excellent image quality from any Blu-ray player, including the BDX5200.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Streaming-video image quality
Netflix Pass

The BDX5200 technically passes our streaming-video image quality test, but not without reservation. The image quality was fine, but we had inconsistent performance with the wireless connection. It was considerably slower than a wired connection, sometimes drastically so: the player told us a simple firmware update was going to take several hours over the wireless connection. While our testing area is crowded with plenty of Wi-Fi networks, we've tested tons of wireless products, including Blu-ray players, in the same location without trouble. Wireless performance is subject to numerous factors, but we'd make sure you buy from a retailer with a lenient return policy in case it doesn't work well in your wireless environment.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">DVD image quality: test patterns and program material
Film resolution Pass "Seabiscuit" Pass
Video resolution Fail "Star Trek: Insurrection" Pass
Text overlay on film Pass "Invite Them Up" Pass
Cadence tests 8/8

DVD image quality isn't a problem for the BDX5200, passing all our program material tests and the vast majority of our test patterns. We don't notice that much of a difference in DVD upconversion image quality anymore these days, so this shouldn't be a big factor in your buying decision.

Conclusion
The Toshiba BDX5200 costs a little less than competing midrange Blu-ray players, but you'll miss out on worthwhile extra features and speedy performance.

Toshiba BDX5200
6.0

Toshiba BDX5200

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6
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