The player’s excellent main menu makes it a doddle to setup. It’s presented in high definition and all of the options are clearly arranged, plus it responds instantly to remote control commands. We also love the cute jingles that play when you turn it on and off. Making firmware updates is a straightforward process if you have a DHCP router, and an update was already available during our test (but sadly it wasn’t the BD Live one).
Disc loading times still aren’t exactly up to DVD standards, but the BD-P1500 is evidence that operating speeds have come on leaps and bounds since the first generation of hi-def players. From standby, it has the tray open in under five seconds and reaches the first menu screen of Transformers in around 57 seconds, which is far more tolerable than the two-minute loading times that we used to endure.
It’s not all plain sailing though, particularly when fast-forwarding or rewinding through a disc. Hit the search keys and there’s a frustrating pause before it starts whizzing through the disc, and when stepping up to the faster speeds it’s infuriatingly unresponsive.
But despite these operational gripes, the Samsung’s picture performance is stunning, as demonstrated by its adept handling of Warner’s pristine 1080p transfer of The Shining. Right from the famous opening shots of the car travelling along a hillside, the deck’s excellent detail response can be seen in the sharply rendered trees and rocks, while the transparency and depth of the image makes you believe for a moment that you’re riding alongside Kubrick in the helicopter.
Further evidence of the BD-P1500’s superb detail handling is provided throughout the movie – for example, you can clearly make out the brickwork and tiling of the Overlook Hotel during exterior long shots, plus the fine pattern on Jack Nicholson’s plaid jacket during the interview scene is crisply rendered.
Other elements of the picture are impressive too – Kubrick’s creepy colour palette looks bolder and more startling than ever before, with no banding or crawling to spoil the purity, while the deep blacks and crisp whites reveal a fantastic contrast range.
The smooth Steadicam shots of Danny racing round the hotel on his tricycle suggest that the 24fps output is doing a good job at keeping judder at bay, although the vertically scrolling opening titles look a little stilted in their journey to the top of the screen.