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Samsung BD-D8500 review

We test a combination package of Blu-ray player with Freeview HD PVR and find Samsung has catered for almost every need

Our Verdict

For

  • Abundant features
  • Attractive new GUI
  • Picture performance
  • Smart Hub and slick networking features

Against

  • Slightly sluggish operation
  • Can't record two channels

Why take two hi-def sources into the shower when you can simply watch 'n' go with Samsung's latest BD-D8500 Blu-ray player/Freeview HD PVR combi?

By forcing these two products into shared accommodation, Samsung is putting an unfeasible amount of content at your disposal, as well as saving you some space in your AV cabinet. The BD-D8500 is so cutting edge you could shave with it.

Inside, you'll find twin DVB-T2 tuners, capable of receiving Freeview HD's cluster of hi-def channels, a 500GB hard-disk drive, a 3D-ready Profile 2.0 Blu-ray deck and a wide range of nifty networking features that enable the deck to step well beyond the confines of packaged media.

It's not too shabby on the outside either. The slim dimensions and snazzy black finish are eye-catching enough, but the jewel in the crown is the newly-designed display panel in the centre.

Samsung has built-in a row of touch-sensitive controls, which, when combined with the discreet disc slot, leaves the rest of the fascia mercifully uncluttered.

There's an HDMI v1.4 output that lets you pipe 3D pictures and HD audio to your receiver, which is fine if said receiver has v1.4 inputs. But if not, there's no second HDMI for sending audio separately, and no multichannel analogue outs either.

The BD-D8500 comes equipped with a built-in Wi-Fi adaptor, providing easy access to a wealth of web-enabled content and DLNA networking features.

The most significant of these is Smart Hub, the newly revamped version of Samsung's Internet@TV. It's been given a seriously funky new look that's a nod to the iPhone generation, and introduces a few features that make it much easier to use. The range of apps is impressive. Although it wasn't available during our test, BBC iPlayer should be available by the time you read this. Only Sony's BRAVIA Internet Video offers more catch-up TV services.

Samsung bd-d8500

To complement these apps, there's another nifty feature – Your Video. This recommends movies available on VOD services (at the moment, just LOVEFiLM) based on your viewing history and ratings.

Channel conundrum

Turning our attention to the Freeview feature list, the BD-D8500 does almost everything you'd expect from a twin-tuner PVR, most importantly allowing you to pause/rewind live TV and record one channel while recording another. Sadly, though, only one of the tuners is linked to the hard disk, which means you can't record two channels simultaneously.

The 500GB HDD gives you 120hrs of HD recordings, or 240hrs of SD, plus the great-looking eight-day EPG and series link prevent you missing your favourite shows. The versatile onscreen info banner also lets you look ahead in the schedules without having to consult the full EPG.

Elsewhere, it does all the usual Freeview HD tricks, including lightning-quick digital text access, audio description and subtitles.

Samsung BD-D8500 testing data

Power consumption (Watts): Idle: 18W; Playing: 18W

Idling: Not as low as many budget players
Playing:
To be expected as it has an HDTV PVR built in

Audio jitter (ps): 185

Analogue: Far exceeds our expectations, considering that it has no audiophile pretensions

Loading (Boot/Java):

Boot speed (no tray eject): 25 seconds
Disc in to main BD menu: 48 seconds

Disc loading & Java: A comparatively fast disc loader

A lotta Blu-ray going on

With so much else going on, it's easy to forget that the BD-D8500 is also a pretty nifty Blu-ray deck too, the highlight of its spec sheet being 3D playback. But Samsung has also added 2D to 3D conversion to this year's players, which not only works with Blu-ray discs but also programmes from the Freeview tuner.

The results aren't great with TV, but give it a BD such as Iron Man 2 and it lends a fairly convincing sense of depth to the image.

The BD-D8500 is generally easy to use. We love what Samsung has done with the main menu, using full-colour cartoony graphics and an even clearer menu layout than last year's machines.

Less impressive, however, are the occasionally sluggish menus and the pain-in-the-neck process of entering text into Smart Hub's dialogue boxes using the hit-and-miss predictive text on the remote, but thankfully, things get easier as it remembers passwords and previous searches.

Disc loading times are pretty nifty and at the end of that wait are some dazzling pictures, packed with detail and painted in deep and naturallooking colours. nowhere is this more apparent than with Avatar on Blu-ray, which looks beautiful through the BD-D8500's eyes. Up close to Cameron's creations you can make out the intricate textures of skin and scales, while epic shots of Pandora's landscapes look equally crisp, with stable detail and emphatic edges.

I switched to the 3D version of Avatar (viewed on a Panasonic TX-P46VT20) and it's pure spectacle all the way. Jungle shots boast convincing depth, with distinct layers of trees and foliage from front to back without any evidence of blurring or crosstalk.

Freeview pictures don't reach these heady heights, but hi-def channels certainly look sharp and shiny. Standard-definition channels have a little more digital fluff, particularly with fast-moving objects, but they're still watchable. The good news is that recorded pictures look identical to live TV, so there's no quality sacrifice when time-shifting programmes.

So with its excellent performance, packed feature list and fresh new GUI, the BD-D8500 is a fantastic proposition. Yes, Panasonic's forthcoming 3D BD recorders will offer archiving from the HDD to BD disc, which this one doesn't, but will they be as slick, or so temptingly priced?

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Tech Specs

Product TypeBlu-ray Disc Player/Recorder
Scan Format1080p
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR, WEEE
EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Digital TunerDVB-T2, DVB-T (MPEG4), DVB-C (MPEG4)
USBYes
HDMIYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
Media FormatsBD-RE, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, CD-RW, DVD-RAM
Digital Audio Optical OutYes
Sound SystemDolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS HD
Number of Discs1
Brand NameSamsung
Audio FormatsCD-DA, AAC, MP3, WMA
Video FormatsBD Video, DVD Video, Video CD, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, XviD, DivX HD, AVCHD, MKV, WMV, WMV9, WMV2, WMV3, WMV7
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Ethernet TechnologyFast Ethernet
Operating Power Consumption33 W
Standby Power Consumption1 W
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
Video Signal FormatPAL
Height64 mm
Width430 mm
Depth299 mm
ColourBlack
Picture ControlRotate, Zoom
Image FormatsJPEG, GIF, PNG, JPEG HD
Features2D-3D Conversion, 1080p Upscaling, BD Live
ManufacturerSamsung
Product ModelBD-D8500M
Product NameBD-D8500M 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberBD-D8500M/XU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

For a truly integrated home entertainment experience, the D8500M Blu-ray player is an essential item. The Smart Hub feature brings all your content together onto one screen. Anything from web browsing and social networking to downloading Samsung Apps is at your fingertips. A smarter viewing experience is now possible; Search All finds you your content, AllShare lets you share your content, and the 3D converter transforms your 2D content. It's unlimited entertainment that will change the way you watch and interact with your television.

Package Contents
  • BD-D8500M 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
  • Audio/Video Cable
  • RF Cable for TV
  • Remote Control
  • Batteries for Remote Control (AAA Size)
  • User Manual
  • Quick Guide
Remote ControlYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)3.60 kg