In these cash-strapped times, plenty of people won't feel comfortable spending £500 on a Blu-ray player. Thankfully, cheaper models, like the Philips BDP3000/05, have started to appear. Available online for around £170, the BDP3000/05 won't break the bank, so we were keen to see how well it performs.
Budget but beautiful
The BDP3000/05 is the cheapest model in Philips' latest line-up of Blu-ray players. But any cutting of costs certainly isn't evident in its styling. It's a fine-looking player, with beautifully curved edges and sturdy build quality to match.
On the rear, you'll find HDMI, component and composite video connectors, as well as analogue stereo phonos and a coaxial digital output for audio. There's also an Ethernet port for hooking the player up to the Internet, and a USB port for connecting up external storage devices, such as flash drives or hard drives.
The Ethernet and USB ports are necessary because the BDP3000/05 supports profile 2.0 and so can be used to view Web-connected, interactive BD-Live content. To view BD-Live material, you need not only an Internet connection, but at least 1GB of available storage space. This is where the BDP3000/05's budget shortcomings become obvious. It doesn't actually have any on-board storage, so, instead, you have to connect a memory stick of at least 1GB in size if you want to use the BD-Live functionality. This is rather tight of Philips, especially as 1GB of memory is so cheap these days, but we suppose the company's thinking is that many people won't ever bother using BD-Live anyway. It's also annoying that the USB port can't be used for playing back your own media. If you want to play any DivX, JPEG or MP3 files, they need to be burned to CD or DVD instead.
The player also lacks multi-channel analogue outputs, so high-definition audio formats can only be sent to an HDMI-enabled receiver, although that's to be expected at this price point. The player can handle on-board decoding of Dolby's TrueHD 7.1, but it can't do the same for DTS-HD MA, although it can forward the bit stream to a receiver that does support DTS-HD MA decoding.
What really matters is how the BDP3000/05 performs as a Blu-ray player. It made a good first impression on us, proving pretty nippy to load discs. After inserting a disc, it takes about 30 to 40 seconds to start playback, which is good even by the standards of higher-end players. The user interface is also one of the best around -- it's very responsive, and easy to navigate using the player's excellent remote control.
Thankfully, the player is also a good performer when it comes to picture quality. While it doesn't offer the pristine output of a top-end player like the Pioneer BDP-LX52, it's very impressive for the price. It's strong on detail and you'd be hard-pressed to spot any jagginess. Colours are rich and vibrant, without looking plasticky, and contrast performance is also impressive. On the downside, some juddering can become evident when the BDP3000/05's working in 24p mode, and a hint of picture noise can creep in now and again.
The player can upscale standard DVDs to a 1080p resolution. It does a good job, bringing out extra sharpness without making the picture look noisy.
It's annoying that you need to supply a 1GB USB memory stick to be able to access BD-Live content, but, in most other respects, the Philips BDP3000/05 is a great budget Blu-ray player. It feels like it's built to last, it's fast to load discs, and its audio and picture quality are up there with those of the best budget players. For the price, we think it's a great option.
Edited by Charles Kloet