capsule review

Samsung BD-P1000

At a Glance
  • Samsung BD-P1000

    TechHive Rating

What a difference a firmware update makes. When it first launched last year, Samsung's BD-P1000 ($800 as of 2/20/07) displayed soft images--a result of Samsung's choice to enable noise reduction by default. The player we tested fixed this issue, though, and performed like a whole new machine. Bolstered with the most recent firmware available as of our testing, the BD-P1000 produced fine images, with good detail and color balance.

Upgrading the firmware can be a tricky process, though. The unit lacks an ethernet connection, so when an update becomes available, you'll have to order a disc from Samsung or download the update from Samsung's Web site and burn your own CD-R. As we experienced with Philips's BDP9000, we had to use Nero's Ultra Edition disc-burning software to get the player to recognize the disc; other burning apps didn't work in our experience.

The Samsung closely resembles Philips's BDP9000: The two have identical back panels and similar functions and features, including the same memory card slots and limited audio support (just Dolby Digital 5.1-channel decoding, and choice of PCM or bitstream output). Both units looked and sounded alike, too. They offered the same, reasonably pristine images and the same muddied sound.

The differences between the two units lie in the interfaces. They offer the same setup menu options (the options are even worded identically); however, Samsung gives its menus a smaller, more concise design, sometimes with transparent overlays, and always with a more three-dimensional effect than the Philips model does. Neither approach holds a practical advantage, though in certain circumstances the Samsung's transparency disrupts your movie playback experience less (for example, if you invoke certain menus, such as the disc-info option, during playback).

The Samsung's front panel improves greatly over the Philips's. The power button is large and easy to find. The eject button is small but responsive. At the right is a four-way navigation pad, for handling basic controls like play, pause, forward, and back. A flap conceals only the memory card slots (for CompactFlash, Memory Stick, and Secure Digital media), which, as with the Philips BDP9000, allow you to play music or look at photos.

Samsung's BD-P1000 produced great images in our tests. It performed nearly identically to the Philips model, excelling in tests for detail, brightness and contrast, and color quality. In overall high-definition video quality, the two players fell just a shade behind our top video performers, the Sony BDP-S1 and the Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1. In Mission: Impossible III, the Vatican's hallways had depth, and shadow detail was sharp in the black-and-white Good Night and Good Luck.

When we used the BD-P1000's built-in audio decoder, audio playback was a bit muddy compared to our best audio performer, the Sony BDP-S1. You might get better results outputting audio to your audio/video receiver via bitstream.

The player's remote control leaves plenty to be desired. The navigation circle sits near the bottom of the remote, making it difficult to reach--at least with my fingers. The menu buttons also sit too near the bottom, in addition to being small and hard to find. Some of the buttons glow in the dark, which would have been a nice touch if not for the fact that the five buttons that do glow in the dark control the TV, and not disc playback.

Like the Philips BDP9000, the Samsung lets you create bookmarks. You can create up to ten by pressing a button; retrieving the bookmarks is similarly simple. Once you eject the disc, however, the bookmarks disappear, unlike with HD DVD players, which can retain bookmarks thanks to the format's requirement that all players have built-in storage.

Samsung's manual is smaller than most, primarily because it isn't a multilingual tome. The manual is well-organized, with explanations that the average person can understand.

With its great image quality, midrange features, and (just) below-average price, the Samsung BD-P1000 offers an overall strong value.

Lincoln Spector

This story, "Samsung BD-P1000" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Pros

    • Produces well-balanced images
    • Has flash media card slots

    Cons

    • Lackluster sound
    • Mediocre remote control
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