The HT-C9950W uses a lavish onscreen menu system, which is welcoming, responsive and easy to digest. It uses large colourful graphics and consistently legible text, plus the cursor moves around without any frustrating delays. This makes it a breeze to set up potentially tricky functions like wired/wireless networking, BD Live or HDMI audio output selection.
The on-board Musical Auto Calibration mode saves you the hassle of optimising sound levels manually. Although this system isn’t quite as sophisticated or thorough as systems like Audyssey’s MultEQ, it works well and doesn’t take a long time to complete. It uses of a piece of music as opposed to a white noise test tone, which is novel but we don’t recommend staying in the room while it’s playing.
Finally, it’s clear that a lot of thought went into the design of the remote, which not only boasts a classy silver and brushed aluminium finish, but also sports flat, backlit buttons to help you navigate with the lights out. The only minor flaw is that the buttons surrounding the direction keys are too close together, which causes a few slip-ups.
As for disc loading. the system started playing Terminator Salvation 1m 20s after pushing the disc into the slot, which is relatively slow compared with previous Samsung Blu-ray players, which loaded the disc in closer to 40 seconds. Other discs load a lot quicker though.
For 3D picture testing, we watched Monsters Vs Aliens on a Sony 60LX903 and in general the system’s performance is hugely enjoyable. Fine detail looks exceptionally sharp – the intricate light, shade and texture of The Missing Link’s scaly skin is beautifully rendered, while colours are vibrant, natural and nuanced, even through the shaded 3D glasses. You’re also treated to a wonderfully deep and convincingly layered 3D image, in which foreground objects look focused and backgrounds offer an impressive sense of distance and perspective. There is crosstalk in the picture, but this is down to the TV and not the Blu-ray player.
2D picture quality is similarly excellent. The system transfers the hi-def image over HDMI without introducing any unwanted artefacts, leaving the pictures clean, bright and exceptionally sharp. With Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the system picks out every speck of detail in the image – the movie’s exquisitely detailed costumes and prosthetics look particularly impressive.
The HT-C9950W also handles most of the test patterns on Silicon Optix’s HQV Blu-ray flawlessly. Not a single jaggie to be seen on either of the diagonal filter tests and the Video Resolution Loss test is free from strobing. However the Film Resolution Loss test card shows some flickering in the corner boxes and during the subsequent camera pan across Raymond James stadium there’s some ugly twitching and moiré noise amid in the rows of seats, although this appears to make little difference to real-world movie viewing.
Finally the DVD version of the Silicon Optix disc reveals the system to be a competent video upscaler. The bar on the diagonal filter test rotates smoothly without any jaggies, the flag clip reveals no significant stepping on the stripes, the detail test looks satisfactorily sharp and none of the assorted cadences causes the system any major problems.