Though everyone figured it would happen sooner or later, Toshiba has formally announced that it will be introducing a Blu-ray player in time for the holidays.
Dubbed the Toshiba BDX2000, the player will debut in November at an MSRP of just under $250, though street prices will almost certainly be lower. While we won't know about any deal makers or breakers such as load speed, stability and video processing prowess until the BDX2000 hits the streets -- and reviewers' test benches -- a quick look at the announced features reveals a competent though not trend-setting Blu-ray disc player that's more or less priced and equipped competitively with "entry level" players from other major consumer electronics makers.
If you've read our report on Blu-ray disc players, the BDX2000's feature lineup should sound familiar. The player is BD-Live (Profile 2.0) compliant and includes on-board decoders for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Since there's no Wi-Fi, you'll need an Ethernet connection to access BD-Live content from the web. An SD memory card slot allows playback of photos or videos from your PC, but there's no word if you'll need to have a card installed in the slot to provide BD-Live's required 1 GB of memory or if that is built into the player. One plus for owners of Toshiba TVs is the inclusion of REGZA-LINK, which lets you control HDMI-connected Toshiba TVs and disc players with a single remote. One minus is that unlike some competing players, such as Panasonic's DMP-BD60K and Samsung's BD-P1600, there appears to be no Internet streaming feature for getting content from providers like Amazon Video on Demand or Netflix.
The introduction of the BDX2000 marks a significant change in strategy for the Toshiba. Still licking its wounds over the defeat of the HD DVD format at the hands of Blu-ray -- with a mighty assist from several Hollywood studios -- the company had been posturing about developing a "next generation" format that would itself make Blu-ray obsolete and new technologies that would supposedly make standard definition DVDs look as good as HD discs. However, the less than overwhelming reception for Toshiba's first enhanced DVD player, the XD-E500, and growing adoption of Blu-ray apparently convinced the company to shift gears. In announcing the BDX2000, Jodi Sali, vice president of marketing for Toshiba's Digital A/V group said "From listening to our consumers we know they demand access to full high definition content. With the introduction of our BDX2000 we are offering consumers what they want with a breath-taking HD viewing experience to meet the needs of today's home theater."
In case you were wondering, the BDX2000 will not play back HD DVD discs.