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Today’s Show:

Samsung BD-D6500 Blu-ray player

There’s a lot of talk about streaming movies eventually taking over for conventional disc based media like DVD and Blu-ray. But we all know the quality just isn’t quite there yet to eliminate Blu-ray entirely. So what are you to do? Why not buy a Blu-ray player that also streams movies so you’re covered for both cases? If it also supports 3D, you’re triple covered. That’s what you get with the Samsung BD-D6500.

Features

  • Enjoy 3D entertainment in your living room or upconvert regular 2D programming to 3D quality
  • Connect to Samsung “Smart TV” Internet TV services for streaming media, social networking, and more
  • Enjoy music, video, and photo files from both USB and networked DLNA-certified devices
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for a wireless network connection without the hassle of cabling
  • High-definition audio with Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS Master Audio, 7.1-channel output
  • Retail price: $229, Street price: $210 (buy now)

Setup

The BD-D6500 is relatively straight forward to setup. You plug it in, connect HDMI and you’re all set for Blu-ray and 3D.  You can plug in a wired Ethernet connection for the Internet apps, which is what we did, or you can configure the built-in WiFi. We were able to get the player on our WiFi network pretty easily, but didn’t use it that way because we primarily use the apps for streaming movies, so we wanted a reliable high-speed connection.

Performance

Video quality from the Samsung is excellent. Watching DVDs and Blu-rays looks beautiful.  While we won’t try to compare it to the OPPO we recently reviewed, it does an excellent job with video and looks very, very good, and at a very reasonable price. The BD-D6500 also has decoders for Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, so if your receiver doesn’t support those formats, you’ll still get the full quality of the audio using PCM. As a straight-up Blu-ray player, it works quite well.

3D is, well … 3D. You pretty much know where we stand on that. When you can get your hands on one of the few 3D titles available, you can use this player to watch it in all of the three dimensional splendor you can take. Your mileage will vary based on the 3D TV you play it back on, but you’ll get what you’re expecting. This feature is really more for future-proofing yourself than anything else.  So you’ve got that going for you.

Connectivity is great. The Samsung apps give you access to everything you want, like Netflix, Vudu, Blockbuster, and everything you don’t want as well. You can even play games like Sudoku, which is useless. The apps all work as expected.  The Netflix interface is as good as the PS3 and the video playback is great. The player also features DLNA but we couldn’t get it to work; couldn’t get it to stream a single title.  For media playback from the local network, it was an epic failure.

Other than DLNA, which we didn’t see as a core feature of the player, the one area that really got to us the most is how slow and sluggish the player seems to be. It feels like it takes hours to load up, days to launch one of the apps from the main screen and weeks if you want to get into the full list of available apps. By the time you finally get to watch something, the BD-D6500 sure makes you feel like you’ve earned it.  It does feel a bit quicker than the older Samsung BD-C6600, but it still seems too slow.

Note on Reliability

Samsung Blu-ray players have been beat up by users at review sites like Amazon and CNET over reliability issues. Although in general we really like this player, we felt the reliability issues needed to be called out. Braden owns two Samsung Blu-ray players and both work flawlessly and have been without incident. But before you buy, keep in mind that it may be a bit more of a crap shoot than other brands, so make sure you can return it if you get one of the bad ones.

Conclusion

The Samsung BD-D6500 has all the features you need to play video in your home theater, all packed into a neat, relatively inexpensive little package. Video playback is great, connectivity and app availability is really good and overall we liked it. We wish the DLNA would have worked and that it could have been a bit snappier. Overall we’d probably give it a solid B.

Download Episode #470


Posted by The HT Guys, March 17, 2011 10:38 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.