Samsung BD-P2500 Blu-ray Disc Player
At a Glance
The Samsung BD-P2500 outputs terrific images, but it's expensive and has a few shortcomings.
When you first turn on the Samsung BD-P2500, you see a low-resolution, jagged Samsung logo. That's pretty disappointing for a $350 Blu-ray player (price as of 2/18/09). Fortunately, with one exception noted below, it's the last disappointing thing you'll see on this player.
Our PC World Test Center judges found the Samsung's image quality simply amazing. The grades we gave it contained a few Goods, many Very Goods, and a lot of Superiors--unusual for our discriminating judges.
Day-for-night sequences--shot during the day but processed to look like night--are especially hard to resolve digitally. The scene must look dark, but with faces and other details still visible. Our tests contain two such scenes, on the DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the Blu-ray of The Searchers. I noted more detail in both of them, without loss of darkness, on the Samsung, than I typically spy during these tests.
Another judge observed that the Samsung produced terrific, brilliant colors on our Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray test, and that film grain looked like film grain on Good Night and Good Luck.
The BD-P2500 is one of two Blu-ray players we've tested that can stream video via the Internet directly from Netflix. (The other is the LG BD300. A third such player, Samsung's BD-P2550, is a Best Buy-only version of the BD-P2500.) The functionality here is virtually identical to that of the Roku Netflix Player and the LG BD300: Armed with an ethernet connection and a Netflix account, you use a PC to queue up 480p and 720p video streams; those streams are then available to you via the Netflix option on the player.
But you can forget about the BD-P2550's great image quality when you stream from Netflix. A standard-def stream of Gandhi looked extremely blotchy, and even the Pan's Labyrinth HD stream didn't measure up to the best that standard-def discs--let alone high-def ones--can offer. We thought the Samsung's Netflix image quality was even worse than the LG's, although they were close. If you really want to enjoy a movie on this player, have Netflix mail it to you on a disc.
The BD-P2500 also supports BD-Live for accessing supplemental disc content via the Web. This feature requires an ethernet connection as well as your own USB drive. Regrettably, this model's USB port is inconveniently situated in the back, and it supports only BD-Live, not your own media files. Another point to grumble about: The BD-P2500 natively supports Dolby TrueHD (so your your amplifier doesn't have to) but not DTS-HD Master Audio. That's a surprising shortcoming for such a feature-laden, expensive player.
The remote control also disappoints. The buttons you're most likely to press when watching a movie, such as Play and Pause, are awkwardly placed. On the other hand, they also glow in the dark (no other buttons do).
In use, I found the BD-P2500 reasonably responsive; it loaded a Blu-ray disc in 56 seconds. But it sometimes showed an annoying lag when skipping chapters. The on-screen setup menu is attractive, well organized, and reasonably easy to use, although it lacks explanations.
Despite those lapses, the Samsung BD-P2500 is an excellent machine. You get what you pay for. In a Blu-ray player, a great-looking image can outweigh such shortcomings and a high price.