Excellent hi-def video performance
Comprehensive media file support
Lacklustre net-connected content
Remote isn't backlit
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If I were building a Blu-ray player, I suspect it would look a lot like Cambridge Audio's Azur 751BD.
It would be 3D compatible (just in case), offer network media streaming for sound and vision (because frankly that's essential) and it would be compatible with my treasured, but sadly not growing, collection of DVD-Audio and SACDs. It would also have a facia forged in the fires of Mount Doom. I would call it The One Facia.
Sadly, the 751BD rather lets me down on that front. Instead, Cambridge Audio has settled for a rather less eldritch aluminium plate. In truth, the 751BD is a pretty substantial player all the same.
Tipping the scales at 5kg, it's blessed with a rigidity that speaks of refinement and clarity of purpose. Connections are many and varied, and include dual HDMI outputs. The primary HDMI feeds video to a 3D capable display, while the secondary takes lossless audio to a legacy receiver.
If you have a 3D-friendly AVR you may not need to use this second output at all. Although, if you were feeling frivolous, you could feed a second display in another room. The player isn't Wi-Fi enabled, but a dongle is supplied in the box should you need it.
Despite its sophistication, the 751BD is easy enough to drive. The menu system reveals shared DNA with the Oppo BDP-95EU, although other aspects of the build are distinctly Cambridge Audio.
One area where it definitely pips the Oppo is file compatibility. Indeed, the player got to grips with almost everything in my test folders, both across the network from a NAS and from local USB. From MP3, AAC and FLAC to AVI, MOV and MKVs, it ruled them all.
In addition to the largely nonsensical BD-Live, the player also has online access to Picasa, which is nothing if not a little random. Hopefully this 'net connectivity will improve over coming months.
When setting up, though, take care not to select PAL as the HDMI output. Instead choose Multi-System. If you don't, there's a good chance some of your Blu-rays will stutter and judder like a drunken Hobbit.
Steve has been writing about AV and home cinema since the dawn of time, or more accurately, since the glory days of VHS and Betamax. He has strong opinions on the latest TV technology, Hi-Fi and Blu-ray/media players, and likes nothing better than to crank up his ludicrously powerful home theatre system to binge-watch TV shows.