The main menu also houses Internet@TV, which provides online access to various applications. The choice of content is greater than Panasonic’s similar Viera Cast feature, with a list that includes YouTube, Twitter, Picasa, AccuWeather.com and Rovi TV listings, as well as a wide range of other applications that can be downloaded from Samsung’s database. The system supports about 100 different applications, and among the batch we downloaded were USA Today, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, Getty Images and History. Facebook and LoveFilm also appeared, but weren’t yet available to use.
Although the content won’t appeal to everyone and can be a bit of a pain to use with the remote, Internet@TV is a fun way to while away the hours, and provided your internet connection is fast enough it’s a hassle-free experience - you can find out how fast yours is using the handy built-in broadband speed checker.
We also tried out the All Share feature and were taken aback by how quick and easy it was to access music on our connected laptop. Everything is presented in neatly arranged folders, allowing you to browse by artist, album and so forth, and during playback it displays the track info with beautifully stylish and sophisticated menus – kudos to Samsung’s designers.
On the subject of digital media playback, format support is superb – the list includes DivX HD, MP3, WMA, WMV, JPEG, AVCHD and MKV. From a Blu-ray perspective, the system does everything you’d expect, from outputting in film-friendly 1080/24p to decoding Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio – although the 2.1 channel configuration obviously doesn’t make the most of 5.1 or 7.1-channel soundtracks and there’s no 3D support.
You will, however, find a decent array of sound modes to inject a bit of oomph into audio. The DSP button on the remote toggles through Smart Sound, MP3 Enhancer and Power Bass, while V-Sound attempts to replicate surround sound from two speakers.
During playback the Tools and Info displays are friendly and easy to understand, telling you everything you need to know about the disc. The Tools menu houses a choice of picture presets (Normal, Movie and Dynamic) as well as a User mode that lets you alter individual aspects of the picture. The setup menu offers some basic speaker settings that can be checked using a built-in test tone.
Samsung has taken a leaf out of Panasonic’s book with the remote, which uses large spongy buttons clearly separated into distinct groups – the playback keys even glow in the dark. The menu controls are perfectly placed with frequently used keys close by.