Blu-ray players haven’t reached DVD levels of cheapness yet, but they’re getting there. You can now pick up a hi-def spinner from supermarkets and online for well under the magic £100 mark, which is great news for anyone looking to upgrade to HD on a tight budget.
But these cut-price players aren’t necessarily bog-standard affairs – some, like the Samsung BD-D5500 on test here, still manage to bring you plenty of alluring features, which make them extraordinarily good value for money.
Naturally the design of the BD-D5500 has been compromised at this price – the bodywork is a little light and plasticky, plus the all-black styling lacks the pizzazz of Samsung’s silver players like the BD-D6900. There’s an old-fashioned disc tray in place of Samsung’s usual motorised slot too. But it does retain the clever touch-sensitive display panel, which cuts down fascia clutter, plus the super-slim, three-tiered shape sets it apart from other set-top box style players.
You’ll find a USB port lurking under a flap on the right-hand side of the fascia, and on the back you’ll find a decent selection of sockets. They include HDMI, component, composite, analogue stereo and optical digital audio outputs, an Ethernet port and a second USB port provided purely to house Samsung’s Wi-Fi adapter (WIS09ABGN), should you choose to buy one – unsurprisingly there’s no built-in Wi-Fi.
If you want a wireless web connection, the USB adapter will add quite a chunk to the overall price. But it’s worth the investment, as it makes it much easier to access the player’s range of connected functions. We’re pleased to say that one of these is Smart Hub, an onscreen interface that brings you a range of ‘Samsung Apps’, including catch-up TV services, social networking sites, movies, video streaming, games, puzzles and loads more.
The key apps are BBC iPlayer, BBC News, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Box Office 365, Google Maps and LoveFilm. The beauty of it is that you can add new apps as and when they’re added by visiting the app store at the top of the Smart Hub interface, and once installed you can organise them into folders.