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Starting with its $250 price (as of April 9, 2009), the Philips BDP5010 is fairly typical of today's brand-name Blu-ray players. It has such features as BD-Live and an SD Card slot (for playing music and displaying photos), and its physical appearance is reasonably distinctive. But its image quality is only middling, which means that you can easily find something better for the same price.
In the PC World Test Center's image-quality tests, the BDP5010 tended to score just below our reference player, the Sony PlayStation 3. It did especially poorly in upconverting standard DVDs--an important consideration for buyers who don't plan to junk their current video collection. In both of our standard DVD tests--The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (chapter 22) and The Phantom of the Opera (chapter 3)--the image looked soft and lost detail.
Though the image in the Phantom scene improved when we switched to a Blu-ray disc, it was still disappointing for a high-definition rendering. Shots that possessed almost 3D depth on the PlayStation 3 and other Blu-ray players looked flat and uninteresting here.
The Philips player did better in other tests. Curiously, the BDP5010 provided its best images in the animated Cars clip, recreating the punch and dimensionality of Pixar's virtual world better than it could manage live-action photography.
Physically, the player is a basic, black Blu-ray box with two interesting touches: silver trim (for a distinctive look) and an Eject button located far from the other buttons on the player's front panel. Since Eject is one of the two buttons you're most likely to use on the player (the other being Power), its location is quite convenient.
The setup menu has a simple, clean, and legible design, but some of its on-screen explanations are not models of clarity. For instance, the HDMI Audio setting has three options--HDMI Normal, PCM, and Off--and only one explanation: "Select Off if you are using a separate SPDIF receiver." For many home-theater users, that piece of advice isn't very helpful, especially if they're trying to figure out what the the PCM option is for. Hit the remote's Info button while watching a movie, and an on-screen display identify the current chapter and elapsed time, but it won't show you how much time is left.
On the remote, the buttons that you're likely to use most often are sensibly placed but small, making them difficult to press. The remote is neither backlit nor programmable.
The BDP5010 took 77 seconds to start playing a disc, which puts it on the slow side of "reasonably responsive." Once a film was playing, it paused without a discernable lag, and it delayed only slightly when skipping chapters.
The BDP5010 doesn't limit itself to media on 5-inch optical discs. Its SD Card slot lets you use the BD-Live features (with a minimum 1GB card), and play music and view photos taken right out of your camera, audio player, or smartphone. Rather than automatically searching the inserted card for appropriate files, the interface forces you to navigate through folders to find them. Unlike many Blu-ray players, it can play both WMA and MP3 files.
Though Philips has not yet made the manual available online, it has promised that it will do so soon.
The Philips BDP5010 is a decent player that sells for a acceptable price--but it's no bargain. And bargains are available--both from the standpoint of overall value (the Panasonic DMP-BD60K) and from the standpoint of price (the Samsung BD-P1600).
This story, "Philips BDP5010 Blu-ray Disc Player" was originally published by PCWorld.