With built-in Wi-Fi, smart TV services and support for 3D Blu-ray, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Toshiba BDX5300 is the equal of its more expensive competitors. It isn't - the smart services are limited - but it's a decent enough affordable Blu-Ray deck.
Smart TV services
3D Blu-ray playback
Digital file support
Basic user interface
High relative price
Awkward remote control
No MKV playback
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Ease of use increasingly makes or breaks electronic products, but with the Toshiba BDX5300 Blu-ray player, Toshiba is hoping there are shoppers out there who still put core features and a low price at the top of their wish lists.
With built-in Wi-Fi, smart TV services and support for 3D Blu-ray, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Toshiba BDX5300 is the equal of its more expensive competitors.
All core, must-have features of the modern age are here - and for a price of £119 in the UK and $139.99 in the US. The Toshiba BDX5300 is all about getting ticks next to your shopping list, with Wi-Fi and 3D playback both deftly integrated.
The smart dimension is a bit more of a fudge, with a rather limited collection. Currently it's just a four-spiked service in the UK, with BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax and Picasa, while US customers get Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, Pandora and YouTube.
Toshiba probably takes the view that these services = smart TV in most consumers' heads, so why bother complicating matters? It's a good call, since the Toshiba BDX5300 makes up in simplicity what it lacks in choice (or any semblance of a pleasant operating system, as we'll see).
Since the US version of the Toshiba BDX5300 boasts Netflix, it's a shame that the UK version has only Acetrax for movie streaming; all such media streaming services are in their first generation, and sadly lacking in must-watch titles, so it's wise to have access to as many as possible if you like your films streamed.
What you don't get on this so-called 'smart' Blu-ray player, which are found on most of the other mid-market decks, is a wide choice of internet widgets or apps, or any notion of an app store.
Nor is there a web browser, but since we often criticise such software we're can hardly bemoan their collective no-show. It that respect at least, less is certainly more.
It's not all bare bones and Blu-ray; Toshiba does offer a smartphone app - the Toshiba TV Remote App - for both iOS and Android handsets, while that Wi-Fi module aids some nifty networking.
Anything DLNA-compliant - such as a PC, netbook or a Mac running Twonkymedia - is recognised by the Toshiba BDX5300 and included in its source list. There's also some digital file support from a docked USB stick, too, although we're not expecting wonders.
We do like the super-slim, compact (just 430 x 200 x 36mm) Toshiba BDX5300's design; a silver arrow stretches across the entire fascia, pointing downwards and nicely lightening an otherwise heavy gloss black appearance. For the money it's actually a remarkably attractive finish.
That slim 'Wide Chassis Aero Cosmetic' hull contains outputs for just HDMI and coaxial digital audio (optical would have been nice), with an Ethernet LAN slot nearby for more reliable, wired internet, and a USB slot up-front.
As well as playing purchased discs and BD-R and BD-ROM discs, the Toshiba BDX5300's pop-put disc tray also supports CD, CD-R/-RW, DVD, DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R, SVCD and VCD.
The Toshiba BDX5300 is one of six in Toshiba's Blu-ray line-up for 2012. Sitting above the 2D-only Toshiba BDX3300, which also sports smart TV functions, it's a notch or two above the Toshiba BDX1300 - a basic 2D deck with no smart functions. It's also above the smart-less, but 3D-ready Toshiba BDX4300. There's something for everyone, then.
Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),
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