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Philips BDP3100

Philips BDP3100 Blu-ray player

The penny-pinchers' player of choice?

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Review Philips has made some interesting innovations with TV in recent years – the Ambilight series among them – but with DVD and Blu-ray it's tended to follow Far Eastern manufacturers, while still managing to deliver decent, no-nonsense players that do what it says on the tin. So it is with the BDP3100, but the impressive thing about this player is the amount of functionality it manages to cram in for such an entry-level price.

Philips BDP3100

Ticks all the right boxes: Philips' BDP3100

Like some other Philips players, the BDP3100 is a good-looking machine. Slim and chic it's also appealingly heavy and well built for a budget device, with its aluminium casing. The smooth black front has minimal clutter too, with a USB 2.0 port for media playback and sunken buttons for play, pause and open.

Around the back the connections are standard but there are no major omissions. There's a single HDMI 1.3 port, Ethernet (just for BD-Live and software updates, but no access to Philips' Net TV). There’s another USB 2.0 port for BD-Live storage, plus component video, digital coaxial, composite video and stereo analogue audio. Ethernet is your only way of connecting to a home network or the Internet by the way, since there's no Wi-Fi on-board.

That USB port on the front is designed for loading media from other memory sources and there's reasonable support for alternative video and audio formats, including DivX Ultra, XviD, MPEG2, H.264, WMV, AVCHD, MP3, WMA and JPEG. HD versions of these don't appear on the spec list but, for the price, that's not the end of the world.

The remote is lightweight but effectively laid out with a minimum of superfluous buttons, though I'd have liked to have seen an 'open' control for the disc drawer on there. Start-up is impressively quick – it only took about 20 seconds to get to the home menu with most discs and it was often at the start of the film in 40s. That compares very well with much more expensive players.

The menu system is clearly and intuitively laid out – its block white icons aren't the most subtle illustrators perhaps, but there's never any doubt about what they mean. The simplistic layout is, no doubt, helped a little by its relatively streamlined features, but simplicity, in general, is a good thing.

Philips BDP3100

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