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Philips BDP 3000

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Philips BDP 3000
Conclusion
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From Hi-Fi World - November 2009 issue

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Blu Sale

philips_bdp3000

As competition in the Blu-ray market hots up, so the prices come down. Noel Keywood tries the brand new bargain-basement Philips BDP3000 for size...

 

Philips recent BDP3000 aims to mix it with Sharp and Samsung players in the budget Blu-ray player market. It starts out well: quoted as costing £169 by Philips you can find this player priced right down to £135 or so in the shops. What it offers at this price is remarkable in some ways, if flawed I found.


The BDP3000 is light at 2.5kgs and compact too, measuring 435mm wide, about the same width as the Marantz SR8002 receiver I used it with. However, at 227mm deep and 58mm high it's a cinch to put into place and connect up. Life is made easier here by the absence of multichannel analogue audio outputs to confuse things, but this does mean anyone wanting to use analogue audio for surround-sound will have to look elsewhere. The S/PDIF digital audio output is labelled 'coaxial', an unusual description, and there is an HDMI output socket of course, an RJ45 ethernet socket for internet connection and a USB socket.  Although light, the BDP3000 is nicely made and finished, and a little less clanky in its casework than a Samsung.

 

Philips point out repeatedly that the USB socket is for memory only, to store BD Live download data. It isn't possible to replay music or video files from it. The internet connection also allows firmware upgrades. Or it does if you can get it. The BDP3000 would not connect to my Netgear router, used successfully by Samsung players and Onkyo receivers. It polled the network, was seen by the router as MTK8520 (?) and given an address, but dropped it. Assigning a static address and direct route did not help, so I was unable to access BD Live to download bonus material. This means nothing to me and does not affect the player's basic functionality. However, it does frustrate software updates, and these are more valuable.

SOUND QUALITY

In addition to the main HDMI output that carries both digital video and sound, and the 'coaxial' digital audio (only) output, there are analogue stereo outputs, so the BDP3000 can be hooked up as a basic CD player. Tests showed [see MEASURED PERFORMANCE] these sockets deliver a decent result but of course you cannot expect real audiophile player sound quality. It makes much more sense to use a player like this as a CD transport, hooking up its S/PDIF 'coaxial' output either to a quality external DAC or to the digital input of a receiver. Why? Well, like the Samsung players this one has very low jitter and therefore high quality digital output our measurements showed. It isn't quite up to the Samsung BD-P1600's extraordinary performance but it is comparable to most CD transports.

 

Most people will, however, just use an HDMI cable which carries both audio and video digitally. I spent a few bemused hours comparing CD digital via S/PDIF and HDMI and felt S/PDIF was just a little tidier and cleaner of the two. As there's no video signal when playing CD, there was no jitter from this source via HDMI and I had Pure Direct selected as always, because Ken Ishiwata and, therefore, Marantz insist video RF degrades audio. Differences really weren't great, but I felt S/PDIF was faster, sharper and sweeter than HDMI, when listening to CD.

 

But so much for CD. This is a Blu-ray player and good ones can guzzle formats, an Oppo BDP83 being able to play every silver Frisbee invented. The little BDP3000 is one quarter its price and a bit more limited. Staying with audio, the Philips plays only the CD layer of an SACD, so plonk an SACD in and it will play, but you get stereo.


philips-bdp-3000blurayrear


 

It will also play a DVD-Audio disc, but not the high resolution code, so when I popped in Toy Matinee I got DTS 5.1 surround-sound, but could not select the Meridian Lossless Packed 24/96 PCM track. I didn't burst into tears though: sound quality was very good and thoroughly enjoyable, if not as hard edged and visceral as the uncompressed track.

 

And now we come to Blu-ray video sound track, and disappointment. Amazingly, our BDP3000 would not play PCM (basic digital code) surround-sound. Listening to Andrea Bocelli's 'Live in Tuscany' which offers 24/48 code in stereo or 5.1 surround-sound format (no Dolby or DTS options) I got only stereo, with the player set to Auto or Bitstream output. The 5.1 track was missing channels, as switching to 2ch brought up level and the density of instruments.

 

The Chris Botti concert was similarly affected: 24/96 PCM 5.1 surround-sound was two channel, but the Dolby stereo and surround-sound versions played correctly, although I noticed that my receiver saw a Dolby encoded signal with either Bitstream and Auto set on the player, when it should have registered PCM from Auto mode. This suggests the player was not decoding TrueHD to PCM.

 

An Opus Arte Blu-ray sampler with every performance offered in 2ch PCM, 5.1 PCM, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD played all versions properly except 5.1 PCM, which my SR8002 receiver registered consistently as 2 channel - how sad! But I must say the swans in 'Swan Lake' have never looked so good; this player gives a fabulous picture.

 

Philips claim to fit Dolby TrueHD decode, but not DTS-HD Master Audio decode. But whilst the player registered TrueHD and Master Audio on its display, my receiver showed it was doing the decoding, not the player, with Auto or Bitstream set.

 

When I popped in a 24/192kHz sample rate Audio Blu-ray from 2L of Norway the situation changed a little. The BDP3000 processed both 5.1 PCM and Dolby TrueHD to stereo, in Auto and Bitstream modes.  What an irony that it leaves DTS-HD Master Audio well alone, sends it out native and the receiver then turns it into glorious surround-sound! With this disc it did turn Dolby to PCM when set to Auto, but again only two channels were output.

Inability to output 5.1 PCM digital audio isn't acceptable even in a budget player, so the BDP3000 is seriously flawed here (on 2 samples).

VIDEO

With normal Hollywood output on Blu-ray the BDP3000's picture  looked very good immediately. All the usuals like 'Iron Man', 'Spider Man' and 'U-571' had silky smooth colour, meaning noise was low, and plenty of detail too. Pictures looked sumptuous and I was very impressed. How a cheapy player could look so good was a bit baffling, but there are some very clever bits beneath the skin, even if they are not related to audio!

 

Our HQV Blu-ray test disc showed clearly the Philips player handles 24p film superbly even in motion scans and suffers no jaggies on the edges of moving objects. It outclassed Samsung players here and was almost shockingly good. However, these discs have limitations. My own footage from a Canon HV-30, burnt to Blu-ray disc via the TMPG MPEG2 codec in BD-V format revealed what the Philips could and could not do. Watching a Tiger Moth biplane stationary at Duxford airdrome revealed astonishing detail in grass and trees; those old favourites of resolution! Whilst the Tiger Moth, people and lettering on construction equipment looked good on a Samsung BD-P1600, the Philips machine showed the Samsung  was blurred with grass and trees. I thought this was a limitation of the HV-30, but it was not. The BDP3000 showed astonishing ability to suppress noise and reveal detail; I was more than impressed here. I was quite astonished that the blurring of distant grass on an airfield was not attributable to my consumer camcorder, but to the Blu-ray player. So the BDP3000 does have extraordinary noise suppression, which is why it gives silky smooth colour, and it also has amazing detail resolution too. I saw just one problem...

 

With the Tiger Moth sitting stationary its rotating prop was a blur with the Samsung BD-P1600, much as you'd expect. The Philips player couldn't handle this motion and produced a peculiar ghost image instead. Noise reduction algorithms are often compromised by movement and this was the case with Philips processing scheme. However, this was the only time it failed; as the aircraft moved off to taxi, moving verticals in the stringers were perfectly crisp and wing edges left no trail or blur. It was a lovely picture and I was quite taken aback at how much better the Philips looked than any other player I have reviewed to date. The depth of the scene was made more apparent, colour was rich (well okay, oversaturated by the HV-30 and the Philips added something here) but detail superb. It was a transfixing picture and nothing other than very impressive.

 

Reviewing a Blu-ray player takes a lot of button pressing and operationally a few issues stood out. The onscreen menus were cleanly designed and clear, not the shaky text I've seen with some Chinese made receivers. The absence of a Draw Open button  was disappointing and the important Top Menu is too small and part of a button group, when it should be large and close to Menu.

 

Load times were fast: 20 seconds to initialise at startup, 6 seconds to play a CD from Draw open, 12 seconds to play a Blu-ray movie and 30 seconds for a Java menu to load from Spiderman and John Meyer. Picture in picture worked fine.


CONCLUSION

If picture quality is all, then the Philips BDP3000 is a great player at the price, but its inability to play 5.1 PCM as surround-sound, only as stereo, is unacceptable. Sadly this rules it out for audiophiles, and many others too. What a shame, because in some other ways this is a breathtakingly good machine considering its modest price point.

 

verdict 3

Pleasant to use, and with great picture quality, but the lack of PCM surround-sound rules it out audio-wise.

 

Philips BDP3000 £169

Philips

+44(0)800 3316016

www.philips.co.uk

 

FOR

- great picture quality

- fast loading

- easy to use

 

AGAINST

-  no PCM surround-sound

-  erratic with 24/192

-  no Draw Open button


 

MEASURED PERFORMANCE

The analogue audio outputs offer a good result for those that may want to use them. Frequency response has a small lift to 20kHz (+0.2dB) with CD and from DVD a 24/96 stereo track gives output extended up to 45kHz (-1dB).

 

A small amount of noise diminishes EIAJ Dynamic Range to 109dB from the 112dB from a quality CD player, but with 24bit code distortion at -60dB measured 0.07% - very low.

 

The BDP3000 does not decode DSD from SACD. Play an SACD disc and it reads the CD layer only, measurement showed.

 

Jitter on the coaxial digital output was a low 10pS or so right across the audio band above 100Hz, so BDP3000 works well as a transport, lacking the terrible jitter performance of so many cheap players, and comparing with the excellent performance of Samsung players.

 

The BDP3000 is well engineered under the skin. It gives good audio results from all outputs. Obviously, results from HDMI are determined by the receiver, not the player. NK

Frequency response (-1dB)

CD 5Hz-21kHz

DVD 24/96 5Hz-45kHz

Distortion (%)

0dB 0.003

-6dB 0.002

-60dB 0.28

-80dB 3

Separation (1kHz) 102dB

Noise (IEC A) -115dB

Dynamic range 109dB

Output 2.1V

 


DISTORTION - 16bit

philips-bdp3000-thd

 

JITTER

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