Samsung BD-F7500 - Features

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Samsung BD-F7500 – Features

Be they players, systems or

soundbars, Samsung’s Blu-ray products are always packed with features

and it comes as no surprise to find this range-topping deck offers more

tricks than ever.

Samsung BD-F7500

Chief

among them is a fantastic range of network features. Making a welcome

return this year is Smart Hub, which has been simplified (more on that

in ‘Operation’) while retaining the same generous range of internet

apps. The selection is again spearheaded by free video sites like BBC

iPlayer and YouTube, plus on-demand movie sites Netflix, LoveFilm,

Blinkbox and Knowhow Movies. These are backed up by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, BBC News, Rightmove, AccuWeather, BFI Player and vTuner internet radio.

That’s

just what’s displayed on the main menu – there’s loads more content

hidden away in the Samsung Apps menu, such as specialist video, radio

and lifestyle content, as well as games and educational apps for the

kids. It’s a top-drawer selection with a nice blend of content for all

the family. ITV Player, 4OD and

Demand 5 weren’t available on our sample as they were still being tested by Samsung HQ, but we’re assured they will be there by the time the deck goes on sale. That makes Samsung the first, if not only company to offer all four of the main catch-up TV services from a Blu-ray deck, which is not only a feather in Samsung’s cap but also great news for you.

Samsung BD-F7500

There’s

also a section of the main menu called ‘Movies and TV Shows’, which

replaces the Your Video service found on previous players. It provides a

faster and more convenient way of buying or renting movies than

visiting the individual on-demand sites. The content comes from

Samsung’s Video Hub service and Acetrax Movies.

However, there

were teething problems. When we selected an Acetrax movie to rent or

buy, it took us to the installation page for Sony’s Crackle app. At the

time of writing, the app server was ‘still in development’ and Acetrax

hadn’t been added, so we expect this to be ironed out by the time these

new players hit the market.

Interestingly, Samsung has ditched

its Family Story photo-sharing service but retains the dedicated Fitness

and Kids portals, which boast gorgeous hi-def graphics. Fitness offers a

range of workout videos and training programmes, alongside a series of

tools to monitor your progress, while Kids offers videos and educational

tools aimed at youngsters. While home cinema enthusiasts won’t be

fussed by features like this, it’s nice to see a player with more

strings to its bow than just movie playback.

There’s also a web

browser, which is a little easier to use than last year’s players and

loads pages quickly. That said, it’s still cumbersome to navigate with

the remote, and entering text is time consuming – although Samsung has

improved this with a nifty predictive feature that suggests which letter

to press next.
 Samsung BD-F7500

When

web browsing, you can switch between pointer browsing (the cursor

crawls around the screen) or link browsing (which is equally frustrating

with lots of links on the page). Luckily you can also use a USB keyboard and

third-party wireless mouse with the F7500, which makes life a lot

easier.

The BD-F7500 can also stream movies, music and

photos from PCs and media servers on your home network using Samsung’s proprietary

AllShare technology. Samsung recommends that you install its AllShare

software on your PC, which allows you to create a shared folder with the

BD-F7500 (and any other Samsung products in your home) and stream the

files within it. The player is also designed to work with PCs running

Windows 7 or 8 without having to install AllShare, but we found it

worked more smoothly and supported a wider range of files when using

AllShare.

For example, before installing AllShare we tried

streaming an MKV file (1080p video, DTS audio) on a Windows 7 PC and it

refused to play (Windows Media Player 12 doesn’t natively support MKV).

It also played AVCHD, hi-def AVI and WMV files but downgraded them to a

blurry SD resolution. However after installing AllShare it played the above

files with no problems, in their correct resolution.

The rest of

the BD-F7500’s format support is impressive. We were also able to stream

DivX HD, MP4, 3GP, XviD, WMV, MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV and APE.

Supported photo files include JPEG, PNG, BMP and MPO. All of the above

formats also played without hesitation from a USB drive.

Samsung BD-F7500

If

you don’t want to increase the burden on your over-worked wireless

router, you can also stream files from mobile devices using Wi-Fi Direct

– although this cuts out the connection to your network. You can also

control playback of content stored on a server using a Samsung

smartphone running the AllShare software.

Elsewhere, there are a

couple of other big additions to the spec sheet. We’ve mentioned 4K

upscaling – included with one eye on the future – which is already found

on last year’s BDP-S790 from Sony, as well as the new Panasonic

DMP-BDT330. Not having a 4K display to hand meant we couldn’t test it out on this occasion, but it’s

good to know it’s there.

The other new feature this year is

AllShare Cast, which mirrors your Smartphone’s screen on your TV. It’s

particularly useful for playing games, which aren’t always the easiest

to follow on a poky screen, and when you rotate the device the player

also rotates the image on the TV. Samsung’s system is not the same as

Miracast (also found on Panasonic’s DMP-BDT330), but the F7500 will

support that too.