The Philips BDP7200 Blu-ray player made its bow at this year's CES, and is set to hit the UK in October. Our review of the US-based product suggests it could be well worth the wait.

When we saw how good the Blu-ray version of 'The Searchers' looked on Philips' $400 BDP7200, we wrote down: "looks like VistaVision" - because that's truly how clear and crisp we found the image.

John Ford shot his 1956 western in VistaVision, a special process that used twice the usual amount of film to deliver a beautiful, highly detailed image.

Another juror noted the high-quality colour and sharpness of the image. This Philips BDP7200's overall performance score of 85 placed it in the very highest echelons in terms of Blu-ray player image quality.

For sound quality, as well: the Philips BDP7200 scored highly on our audio tests; in particular, our uncompressed PCM test track from 'The Last Waltz' came out well-rounded.

This Philips BDP7200 is Blu-ray BonusView-enabled, so you can play back the picture-in-picture features available on some movie titles.

You'll need patience to use the Philips BDP7200, though. While the unit powered up in less than 20 seconds (reasonably good for a Blu-ray player), it took an additional, mind-numbing 44 seconds to start playing a disc. The total startup time, 64 seconds, is poor. Once running, the Philips BDP7200 responded sluggishly to such remote control commands as popping up the menu and skipping chapters.

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The Philips BDP7200 Blu-ray player made its bow at this year's CES, and is set to hit the UK in October. Our review of the US-based product suggests it could be well worth the wait.

The on-screen menus and displays, rendered in standard definition, don't look attractive, either. Although the Philips BDP7200's menu takes up quite a bit of on-screen space when you display it, it doesn't give you much in the way of information or useful choices.

We can guess what "Auto Standby" means, but we would appreciate a display that offers details - such as how many minutes of inactivity puts the TV into standby mode, as opposed to the Philips BDP7200's far less useful On and Off options. (The documentation offers the needed information, but we all know how often users delve deep into a manual.)

Even when you do access information about the disc, you may be frustrated: The Information screen that comes up when you press the Philips BDP7200 remote's Info button is opaque and unnecessarily close to the middle of the screen, blocking more of the image than necessary.

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Philips BDP7200: Specs

  • Blu-ray player
  • supported media: CD, DVD, BD-R, CD-R, BD-RE, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, BD-ROM, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL
  • Dolby Digital surround sound
  • DivX, H.264, MPEG-2
  • MP3, PCM, WMA
  • 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
  • Dynamic Range: 100dB
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio: 120dB
  • Remote control
  • HDMI output, Component video output, 5.1 channel audio line-out, Composite video output, Audio line-out, SPDIF
  • Audio & Composite cables included
  • 544x457x178mm
  • 6.4kg
  • Blu-ray player
  • supported media: CD, DVD, BD-R, CD-R, BD-RE, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, BD-ROM, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL
  • Dolby Digital surround sound
  • DivX, H.264, MPEG-2
  • MP3, PCM, WMA
  • 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
  • Dynamic Range: 100dB
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio: 120dB
  • Remote control
  • HDMI output, Component video output, 5.1 channel audio line-out, Composite video output, Audio line-out, SPDIF
  • Audio & Composite cables included
  • 544x457x178mm
  • 6.4kg

OUR VERDICT

Minor complaints aside, the Philips BDP7200 distinguishes itself by delivering terrific image and audio quality at a comparatively low price - in the US, at least. Support for BonusView, too, makes this model a great choice, so it may be worth waiting until later in the year before you invest in a Blu-ray player.

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