- Review Date: 06/21/11
- Bottom line:
It's not perfect, but a robust feature set, fast performance, and a reasonable price tag make the Toshiba BDX5200 one of the better under-$200 Blu-ray players you can buy.
Inexpensive. Fast BD-Live disc playback. Integrated Wi-Fi. 3D. Good noise reduction.
Slight judder under certain rare conditions. No component video or optical audio outputs. Interface feels a bit sluggish.
Just a year ago, it seemed like a sub-$200 Blu-ray player with a decent selection of features was a dream. Now, nearly every player on the market offers up oodles of Web apps, and Toshiba has gone a step further, also offering 3D support and built-in Wi-Fi in its $179.99 (direct) BDX5200. On paper, it's a full-featured, bargain-priced Blu-ray player that would make a nice addition to most home theater systems. Between its price, features, and performance make it stand out as the best choice on the market today available for less than $200.
The 1.5 by 16.9 by 7-inch (HWD), 2.7-pound Blu-ray player is simple and elegant. The front panel is two-toned, with a glossy black upper half and a recessed, brushed gunmetal lower half. Besides the disc tray and the glowing indicator lights, the only thing that mars the glossy black half is an SD card slot for loading photos and videos and four invisible-unless-illuminated control buttons (Eject, Stop, Play, and Power, but Power is the only one that stays lit). The gunmetal half holds a Toshiba logo on the left side and a Blu-ray 3D logo on the right side. The back of the player is similarly simple, holding only HDMI and composite video outputs, a USB port, and an Ethernet connection. While most users will connect the player to their HDTVs via HDMI (it's the only way to watch Blu-ray content in its native 1080p anyway; we don't recommend connecting your player to your TV through any other connection), the lack of component video or optical audio outputs limits the player's flexibility.
The 7.5-inch remote is plain and unimpressive. Its buttons are all similarly-shaped firm rubber, either circles or ovals, and arranged with the number pad on the top, the playback controls under that, the navigation controls under that, and the color/setting buttons under that. In a nice touch, the BDX5200 includes a dedicated Netflix button on the remote, so you can easily access the streaming video service without navigating menus. The menus themselves feel sluggish, taking a moment to respond to the remote. Fortunately, that sluggish performance doesn't extend to Blu-ray disc playback.
Besides the standard Blu-ray playback and the aforementioned Netflix, the BDX5200 can access YouTube, Vudu, Pandora, and Blockbuster-on-Demand, all wirelessly thanks to its easy-to-configure built-in Wi-fi. Like all Wi-Fi-equipped Blu-ray players, the BDX5200 can scan the local area for Wi-Fi networks, then either connect to an open one or let the user enter a password for a secure one. Like all current Blu-ray players, the BDX5200 can play BD-Live-enabled discs. Unfotunately, like many current Blu-ray players, it doesn't have any onboard memory. You'll have to plug in a USB flash drive in the back of the player if you want to access any BD-Live features.
The BDX5200 is a speedy Blu-ray player, both in startup time and disc loading time. It sprang to life in an average of 1.8 seconds from power off to main menu. Older, non-BD-Live discs (like The Warriors Ultimate Directors Cut, our test disc) loaded at a decent clip, going from disc insertion to video playback in an average of 21.6 seconds. It's a decent speed, but not quite as fast as the LG BD670 ($249.99, 3.5 stars) average of 12.5 seconds. Toshiba's Blu-ray player really shines with never, BD-Live-enabled Blu-ray discs. After an initial 2 minute, 12-second loading time (presumably to load BD-Live data onto the external storage) wait, the player loaded Devil in an average of 58 seconds, crushing the BD670 and Sharp BD-HP35U's ($299.99, 2.5 stars) respective wait times of 1 minute, 12.4 seconds and 1 minute, 25.7 seconds from disc insert to first video playback.For actually loading the video on a disc (and not just bringing up the BD-Live disclaimer/logo/icon), the BDX5200 is the quickest player we've seen yet.
With two small exceptions, the BDX5200 passed our tests with flying colors. We evaluate Blu-ray player video quality by using the HQV Benchmark Blu-ray disc, which checks players for different processing and playback issues. The player handled motion admirably under several different video types, generally playing them all back flawlessly. The only exception was 3:2 pulldown video at 30 fps, which showed occasional judder. The player also showed judder when displaying scrolling text over a video that already had text present, a test that most players we've reviewed passed easily. However, this is a relatively small detail against the player's otherwise-fine video processing ability under more common circumstances. It also showed excellent noise reduction, smoothing out artifact-filled video without significantly diminishing detail. All considered, the BDX5200 makes the marks in video processing.
Thanks to the excellent noise reduction, the BDX5200 performed very well in our DVD-upscaling test. I played the classic DVD benchmark disc, The Fifth Element, and it looked great. While no upconversion can make video look as good as native 1080p, the player performed admirably at making the DVD sharp enough to watch without constantly thinking, "I am watching a DVD on an HDTV" while doing so.
3D Blu-ray playback was flawless. I loaded the player with Avatar in 3D and watched it on the LG Infinia 47LW4600. Depth effects displayed perfectly, with no need to even press a 3D button or select the correct mode. The jungles of Pandora were lush and colorful, and deep, forced-perspective objects like drawn arrows on bows really jumped out.
Overall, the Toshiba BDX5200's slow menu response and minor processing bugs (in certain situations) are small prices to pay for a great Blu-ray player that generally puts out great video, can handle 3D Blu-ray Discs and offers built-in Wi-Fi. There are other Blu-ray players out there that offer even lower price tags and similar features, like the Wi-Fi-equipped Insignia NS-BRDVD2 ($129.99, 2.5 stars), but they offer less features and don't perform as well as the Toshiba. The BDX5200 isn't perfect, but it's a compelling, complete package for any budget-minded home theater.
More Blu-ray player reviews:
• Toshiba BDX5200
• Passive Aggression: The Only Way 3D TV Will Succeed
• Netflix, Video Kiosks Replacing the Local Video Store
• LG BD670
• Sharp BD-HP35U