Samsung UBD-M9500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Review Page 2

One of my biggest gripes with the UBD-K8500 was its unfriendly remote. Thankfully, Samsung has upgraded it for the UBD-M9500—and while the buttons are still small, they’re spaced further apart, making it less likely to hit the wrong one. Along with standard keys (play, stop, etc.), there’s a directional pad for menu navigation. Unfortunately, the remote still isn’t backlit, but that’s why I have a universal remote for everyday use.

The UBD-M9500 is quite easy to set up, thanks to the onscreen guide. Although the Samsung’s primary purpose is to play Ultra HD Blu-rays, it will also play standard Blu-rays, as well as DVDs and CDs. Fans of 3D will be disappointed that there’s no support for it here, and those with vast collections of SACDs and DVD-Audio discs should look for another option; those formats aren’t supported either. One other feature absent here is Dolby Vision, which is now starting to appear on some discs and, as mentioned, displays.

If you own a Samsung mobile phone, the player can stream video from a disc to your phone over Wi-Fi, although I don’t see the appeal of this. Sure, my Galaxy Note 5 has a sizable screen, but it pales in comparison to the 88-inch screen of my front-projection system! Going in the other direction, with the addition of the Samsung Smart View app on your Android phone, you can share the phone’s screen on the player’s output, which is handy if you want to show off some of the pictures stored on your device.

Once the player is set up and connected to your network, you have a plethora of choices of what to do. The Home Screen has one of the best layouts I’ve seen and is easy to navigate, even for the less tech-savvy members of your household. There are quick-launch icons at the bottom of the screen that can thankfully be customized to your liking. My main choices beyond “Play a Disc” were Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu; I had to move Vudu there from a second page by holding down the select button on the remote until a menu popped up asking if I wanted it on the main screen.

There’s a Quick Settings tab that allows you to customize various options, such as Picture Mode, Fit Screen Size, Sound Output, Audio Output Format, and Network. I chose the basics—Movie picture mode, bitstream audio, wired network—and all worked like a charm. In the Video Output section, there isn’t a “native” setting, so if it’s set to Auto or to 2160p, all video will be output in 4K (if you have a 4K display), regardless of the native resolution on the disc. Fortunately, the Samsung is a competent scaler, and unless you’re a very picky videophile, you shouldn’t be too bothered by its treatment of 1080p content. If hooked up to a 1080p display, the player will automatically downscale to the proper resolution and give you the ability to adjust the gamma curve (low, medium, high).

More Than Just a Shiny Disc Player
I used the UBD-M9500 for nearly a month and found the experience uneventful—which is a good thing. Disc playback was flawless, with one exception. When I watched the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Life, there was a band of video noise at the very bottom of the screen. I promptly ejected the disc and reloaded it—same effect. Thinking that the disc was possibly to blame, I loaded it into my reference Oppo UDP-203, and it looked perfect. As a last gasp, I rebooted the Samsung—and finally, the video noise was gone. Chalk it up to gremlins, because it was the only issue I had, and it never repeated itself on this disc nor any of the others I played.

Demoing a stack of UHD Blu-rays is somewhat boring, for a reason you may not expect: They all look and sound pretty damn good. Indeed, comparing them is akin to picking Miss Universe: They all are beautiful! The aforementioned Life is no exception, with its razor-sharp digital photography, inky blacks, and picture-perfect fleshtones. The Samsung took what was on the disc and displayed it in all its 4K glory; it didn’t add anything or take anything away.


Although I hate to admit it, streaming is definitely the way we are going to be viewing the majority of our content in the future. It’s come a long way in a short time, when you consider the amount of content available as well as the jump in quality. Depending on the bandwidth into your home, you can get close to Blu-ray quality from a “UHD” stream—but at this point in time, disc-based media will give you the best (if not the most convenient) experience.

I sampled my three go-to services—Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu—and each performed flawlessly. Via Netflix, I watched the UHD stream of season 5 of House of Cards, which offered 4K video without WCG and HDR. It came quite close to Blu-ray quality in bright scenes, although nighttime scenes were prone to video noise and minor macroblocking. The same could be said of the UHD stream of Spectre from Amazon: It’s convenient, but the UHD disc blows it away in terms of quality. As for Vudu, at the time of my testing, it hadn’t been updated on the player to support Ultra HD. That said, Vudu’s HDX streams are a best-inclass streaming experience, and I can’t wait to see what the service can do with UHD.

When Samsung’s UBD-K8500 was launched last year, there were no other choices available to consumers. I’d be the first to admit that I wasn’t pleased with that first-generation player until many of the bugs were worked out via firmware updates. This second-generation offering nails the user experience out of the gate. There are more choices in the marketplace now, and Samsung’s UBD-M9500 is both an excellent Ultra HD Blu-ray player and arguably the best streaming device I’ve used when it comes to the three major services (four, if you count YouTube). Throw in its fast and intuitive user interface, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a bargain.


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pw's picture

No Dolby Vision no deal..
Already outdated..

brenro's picture

Never happen. The jury's still out on DV.

jnemesh's picture

HDR10+ supports everything DV does, except for the 12 bit support, which no one is using. Samsung, the WORLDS LARGEST DISPLAY MANUFACTURER, refuses to support the format, AT ALL (even in their blu-ray players). It's not gonna happen, no matter how badly DV fanboys want it to happen. (Why are there even DV fanboys???) It's essentially DOA.

brenro's picture

The UBD-8500 has had all the bugs worked out, is still for sale, and sells for a hundred bucks cheaper. This article fails to tell me what makes the new one better.

David Vaughn's picture
I have both players and prefer this generation. First, it's a bit faster to boot up and load discs. Second, the remote is improved (a non factor if you use a Universal remote). Third, I like how you can customize the main menu to the services you actually use (last year's model may do this now, but I haven't had it plugged in for nearly 6 months now). Is that worth $100? To me it would be.
brenro's picture

You should have written the review.

David Vaughn's picture
I did write the review! For print you only have so many words. Also, it isn't a comparison to last year's model, it's a review about this particular unit. Also, if you read between the lines you'll see that I called these things out (except for the speed) in the review.
brenro's picture

I have the older model and was looking to see if there was a compelling reason to upgrade. Keep up the good work!

David Vaughn's picture
Thanks for the kind words. It was an easy oversight! Have a great holiday season.'s picture

David...Thanks for the short review. I had the UBD-K8500 and demoed the UBD-M9500. I thought the build quality was the same between the two units. I think the remote on the M9500 is just as bad or worse than the K8500's. Still not backlit and the remote is all black (including the keys) which makes using the remote in a darkened remote difficult. The remote in your article is silver BTW. The user interface is improved for sure (not that the original was bad) and the on screen info displayed by the player is much better, but I did not see an improvement in picture quality over the predecessor. At $279 for the M9500, the Sony which is currently on sale at $150 is a better value in my opinion.

David Vaughn's picture
I'm not sure where the remote that is pictured came from because that's not the remote that came with the player. I'll inquire with the webmaster if the wrong image was uploaded. Regardless, I thought the spacing was better on this remote versus last year's player and I didn't misclick like I did last year. I haven't tested the Sony player, so I'm not sure how well it works. If it's a typical Sony, you may have to go through their service page to use Netflix, etc, which didn't work very well in the past for me personally.
David Vaughn's picture
If a UHD player (or Blu-ray player) is doing its job right, you won't see any difference in performance. Personally, I did see a slight improvement because there wasn't any red push in the image, which the UBD-K8500 had initially. I'm not sure they ever fixed that via firmware because once the Oppo came out, the K8500 was put back in its box and hasn't been used since. I still use the Oppo daily for disc playback, but I watch Netflix and Amazon using the M9500.
drny's picture

Whoopy for M9500 and its streaming prowess.
Samsung can keep it its streaming apps, just gives us back 3D playback.
I was also looking to upgrade to a second generation UHD player.
One with HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, along with good old 3D.
I don't get it.
Any TV that can take advantage of UHD blurays 4k and HDR already has a multitude of apps.
I stream Netflix 4k, Youtube, and Amazon Video directly to my Samsung JS9500 via a LAN connection.
Streaming via a direct hardwired LAN connection, to the display, gives the viewer the best possible quality.
In my opinion Samsung missed the boat with the M9500.
I guess I will have to wait for Oppo's second generation UHD player and pay through the nose.

David Vaughn's picture
For those of us with front projectors, we need devices that can stream. In my opinion, the Samsung blows the Roku 4K away in reliability--it just works versus the Roku that I returned to the store in less than a week because it was so unreliable. This player was released nearly 6 months ago and frankly, is already outdated. I'm sure their next player will have Dolby Vision (or it better!).