Samsung BD-H6500 Blu-ray Player Page 2

Once the player is updated and set up, the user interface is very intuitive and easy to navigate, although there is some lag time while an application is loading. The Home Screen is divided graphically into various options. Along with Play Disc, they include Movies & TV Shows (viewed from the Internet), Multimedia (music, videos, and photos), Screen Mirroring, and Settings. There’s a link to Samsung-sponsored apps that include all the majors (Netflix, Amazon VOD, YouTube, Vudu, Pandora, and many more); the Home Screen also displays a recommended Apps section (with three preloaded selections) and a My Apps option. While I love all the choices, I wish there was a way to customize the Home Screen to put only the apps you use there, but I’m just picky.

The player has a Web browser that works decently enough but certainly requires a mouse and keyboard to make it functional. Frankly, if I want to look up something from my couch, I’d prefer to grab my iPad or Galaxy S4 smartphone instead—it’s much more user-friendly. This is where the Screen Mirroring function comes in. I was able to pair my phone with the BD-H6500 and look at photos, videos, and my Chrome browser, as well as watch some of The Big Bang Theory from my Flixster account using my phone as the source of the media. I had no problems pairing the two devices, although I discovered that this is a killer on your phone battery.

614samsungbd.rem.jpgThe Settings tile includes all of the usual suspects: Display, Audio, Network, System, and Support. Most of what you’ll need is taken care of during the auto-setup routine, but if you want to enable some of the advanced features (such as 24p output for DVD) or toggle the audio between bitstream and PCM, you can make those adjustments here.

Tests and Real-World Performance
Samsung players have proven to be solid performers in our benchmark tests for years, and the BD-H6500 was more than up to the task, sailing through most of the tests. Like past players, it failed the 2:2 HD benchmark, but that’s a common (and largely inconsequential) result. And because the player slightly rolled off some chroma (another fairly common fault), it received a borderline pass on that test; still, the effect wasn’t prevalent in real-world material, so I gave the player the benefit of the doubt.

Last year I was surprised at how loud the disc-drive mechanism was in the BD-F5900 I tested, but thankfully that isn’t the case here. While you can hear the disc spinning up once you push play, it doesn’t sound like a crop duster flying through the room. And once the movie starts, the player is whisper quiet and doesn’t draw any attention to itself.

I was one of the many moviegoers who were wildly disappointed by the first installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. The story dragged on forever, and it made Jackson’s version of King Kong seem short by comparison, which isn’t a compliment. Regardless, I later saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a couple more times on disc for review purposes, and it grew on me enough to want to see the second part, The Desolation of Smaug, in a theater. While better than the first film, it still has its own flaws. On Blu-ray, however, the movie is a demo showpiece whether you watch it in 2D or 3D, and the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is to die for, especially if you love bass!

When I popped in the disc, the Samsung showed how far we have come with Blu-ray in eight years. You no longer have time to read War and Peace from end to end while you wait for your disc to load. In this case, I was at the main menu in less than 30 seconds. I immediately jumped to the scene where Bilbo has invaded Smaug’s lair, and I was very impressed. The player’s audio and video prowess didn’t let me down in any way and matched the experience from my reference Oppo BDP-103D player.

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Every disc I threw at the Samsung performed well, so there are no issues to complain about. What really sets this player apart from the masses is its wide choice of streaming options. In fact, it has pretty much everything you’d ever want, including my two personal favorites, Vudu (with its HDX streams) and Amazon Instant Video (I love getting free two-day shipping with my Amazon Prime membership and a cornucopia of movies and TV shows that I can stream at no additional charge). I linked the Samsung to my accounts for both services with ease and streamed to my heart’s content. Granted, neither streaming option matches the quality of Blu-ray, but like the guys said at the poker table, you can’t argue with the convenience factor.

Conclusion
I was somewhat disappointed by the Samsung budget player I reviewed last year. Spending about $50 more on a Blu-ray player is certainly worth it for a better user experience. And in this case, the addition of a backlit remote, a quieter disc drive, and the ability to mirror the screen from my S4 smartphone made me enjoy the BD-H6500 a lot more than I expected. While it won’t replace my Oppo anytime soon, I could definitely see myself using this player in a spare room because of its fantastic audio and video performance and its bevy of streaming options. Recommended.

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COMMENTS
wolfkiel's picture

in your article, you mention "The player’s audio and video prowess didn’t let me down in any way and matched the experience from my reference Oppo BDP-103D player." Are you saying that the Samsung produced as good video quality as your OPPO 103D ? I was thinking of upgrading from my Panasonic BDT210 to the oppo later in the year, but don't want to waste the $ if it won't improve picture quality..

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