Samsung follows up the impressive BD-P1400 with the predictably named BD-P1500, which adds a few features missing from its predecessor but keeps the price at a very affordable level.
Most significantly, the BD-P1500 is a Profile 1.1 player and can therefore play BonusView material found on an increasing number of Blu-ray discs. But the clever part is that it’s ‘BD Live ready’, which means it can be upgraded to Profile 2.0 by downloading the relevant firmware update from the Samsung website, which should be available in October.
The BD-P1500 looks very different to the BD-P1400 – out goes the curved fascia and in comes a flat front panel and a slimmer chassis. The gorgeous gloss-black finish remains (a must for any self-respecting BD player) and buttons are kept to an absolute minimum, making this deck a real piece of eye candy.
Around the back, the lack of 5.1 or 7.1 analogue audio outputs is unsurprising at this price, but it means that you’ll need an AV receiver with HDMI inputs to enjoy HD audio soundtracks. Otherwise it offers all the basics, including HDMI, component, composite, optical digital and stereo audio outputs.
There’s also an Ethernet port for making firmware updates and downloading BD Live content when the unit is upgraded, plus a USB port for ‘service use only’ – but our guess is that you’ll need to plug an external memory device into this when you upgrade to BD Live, which will provide the local storage needed to download web content (in the same way that the latest Panasonic and Sony players need SD cards and Memory Sticks to store content).
The BD-P1500 performs most of the tricks you’d expect from a Blu-ray player, although its inability to play DivX, MP3, WMA or JPEG files is very odd in this day and age, and the lack of DTS HD Master Audio decoding is a pity. However, it does decode Dolby True HD and Dolby Digital Plus, and can output them in bitstream form.
There are three audio output options on board to cater for the needs of different audio systems when playing BonusView discs. By selecting PCM, the deck decodes the Primary and Secondary tracks into PCM and outputs it from the HDMI port. Bitstream (Re-encode) decodes both streams into PCM, then re-encodes it into a single DTS bitstream that’s available from the optical output, allowing those without HDMI-equipped receivers to enjoy BonusView audio. Finally, the Bitstream (Audiophile) option outputs the Primary soundtrack via HDMI for your AV receiver to decode, but you won’t be able to hear the Secondary audio track.
Other features include 1080/24p ‘Movie Frame’ output, Anynet+ HDMI CEC support and playback of AVCHD discs with x.v.Colour.