Samsung BD-E6500 Blu-ray 3D Player Page 2

Tests and Real-World Performance
The two best Blu-ray players I've used in 2012 are the Sony BDP-S790 (Home Theater, September 2012) and Oppo BDP-103 (Home Theater, January 2013), and while the Samsung performed admirably in our benchmark video processing tests, it didn't sail through them like the aforementioned players and doesn't sport the stellar DVD upconversion that they do, either. The only test the Samsung failed outright was 2:2 HD—which is a common occurrence for most players—but it barely passed the 2:2 SD and 2:3 SD tests due to its inability to lock onto the signal in a timely manner on the first pass of the race car on the Anchor Bay VRS test disc.

Fortunately, the player didn't exhibit any issues with real-world material from the Star Trek: Insurrection and Gladiator DVDs. Rooftops and railings remained jaggie free, although the upconversion is much softer than I've grown used to with my reference Oppo player.

One area in which I have no complaints is the player's ability to boot up and load discs. In fact, it's one of the fastest I’ve used. The unit powers up and takes you to its Home screen in less than 10 seconds and loads BD-Java-intensive discs in less than 30 seconds. My only gripe is the noise of the disc drive, which is surprisingly loud with various grinding and gurgling noises while accessing the disc. Thankfully, no discs were harmed during the testing of this player, and once the movie starts, the drive is virtually silent.

The Dark Knight Rises is the thrilling conclusion of director Christopher Nolan's reboot of the popular comic book character. It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning from hero into fugitive. But when he makes his return to the streets of Gotham City, all hell breaks loose. Like The Dark Knight, the film was shot in part using IMAX cameras with 65mm film mixed with traditional 35mm photography. The AVC video encode takes advantage of this by using a hybrid master to replicate the two different aspect ratios throughout the film—2:40:1 for the 35mm footage and 1.78:1 for the 65mm IMAX shots. Needless to say, the IMAX footage is outstanding, and the Samsung delivered the goods in the picture department. Detail and clarity were both top notch, and the player did nothing to detract from the experience.

Testing the player's ability to decode high-resolution audio proved to be a moving experience. Whether it was the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track from The Dark Knight Rises or the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track from Iron Man, the soundtracks’ internal PCM decoding matched the bitstream output without fail—as they should. I'm not a huge fan of the clicks and beeps in the various Blu-ray menus, so I default to bitstream most of the time. But either way, you'll be impressed.

Finding Nemo isn't my favorite Pixar film—that's reserved for Toy Story 2—but from a home theater perspective, the 3D presentation of the movie is jaw dropping. It features amazing depth and plenty of 3D-wow moments as Nemo's father searches for his lost boy. The player loaded the 3D disc without any issues. If you're looking for a new 3D demo, be sure to add Nemo to your collection.

The player’s streaming output mimics what I've seen across the various Blu-ray playersI've used. Vudu boasts the best picture quality overall, and the interface on the Samsung is snappy and easy to navigate. I dumped Netflix over a year ago and couldn't see how well that worked, but I doubt you'll have any operating issues given the company’s market penetration. If TV is your thing, Hulu Plus is a great option, with its variety of current TV shows in its lineup. The video output is quite good but doesn't quite match what you'll get from an over-the-air, satellite, or cable HD signal.

It's amazing how much Blu-ray player you can get for your buck these days. While the Samsung falls short of both the Sony BDP-S790 and Oppo BDP-103 in numerous areas, both players will hit your wallet harder (about $50 more for the Sony and $220 for the Oppo). If your budget is tight, you really can't go wrong with the Samsung. It offers a plethora of viable streaming options, exhibits excellent speed in its loading of discs, and its audio and video output is quite impressive for the cost. Despite a couple of minor issues—audio streaming limitations and the noisy disc drive—I would definitely give this player a look, even though it falls just short of Top Pick designation.

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