Blu-ray Players

Cambridge Azur 650BD Universal Blu-ray Player

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The Azur 650BD is a very sleek and simple box; a solid chassis with large rubber feet that absorb vibration. The front panel is made from a thick brushed metal plate and has rounded corners to complement its style. The rounded corners carry from front to rear and are a trademark element of Cambridge Audio components. The disc tray is at the top center with the display just below. The characters on the display are small but easily read from standard viewing distances. The dimmer is adjustable between off, low, and high. The brightest level is quite bright so I reduced it to the dimmest option. The buttons are slightly recessed into the front panel and have a nice positive feel. I really liked the no-frills look of this player.

Internals are of Cambridge Audio’s own design. Decoding duties are performed by a Mediatek MTK8520/MTK8575 chipset, which also serves as the upconversion solution for DVDs. Cambridge Audio decided during the development and testing phase that an additional solution for scaling and deinterlacing wasn’t necessary since the Mediatek does an excellent job on its own. The MTK decoder is also used in the OPPO BDP-83 which explains the similarity in their respective menu structures and appearance. I was informed by Cambridge Audio that the similarity between the two players ends there. Digital to analog conversion is handled by a Crystal CS4345/CS4361 chipset which supports upsampling to 24-bit/192kHz output. There is also a Pure Audio mode, selectable from the remote, which turns off all video output.

Since the Azur is a Profile 2.0 player it comes with full support for BD-Live. One gigabyte of internal memory is included. This can be expanded by using the front and rear USB ports with a standard thumb drive. These ports can also be used for firmware updates, to view photos or to play audio and video files. I had one nit concerning the front port. It is protected by a thick rubber cap which is not attached to the player. If you remove it, the cap can easily be lost. A tethered part would be more convenient here. The rest of the front panel controls include a power toggle and basic transport keys.

The rear panel contains outputs for any type of installation. Besides HDMI there are component, S-video and composite video jacks. Audio terminals include analog 7.1 RCAs, and digital via coax or optical. The BD-Live required Ethernet port comes next plus a second USB port. Lastly, there is an IR input for integration with control systems. The power cord is a separate part and quite thick; much beefier than an average cord.

I found the remote control somewhat disappointing. It has a nice weight and shape to it and feels quite well-made. The big problem is that it’s not backlit and all the buttons are the same shape and size, making it difficult to control in a darkened theater. I would have appreciated at least some different shapes for the transport controls but they are the same round domes as all the other keys. A backlit remote should be a staple for any piece of home theater equipment. In this remote’s favor, it does have every possible control necessary.