As we discovered with the BD-D8500, Samsung has gone back to the drawing board and came up with a flashy new user interface. The main menu retains a colourful, cartoony vibe, with each function being represented by an animated icon and a short list of options floating above it. It can be a little hesitant to move from one to the other, but we can’t fault it on logic or intuitiveness.
In fact, all of the menus have been designed with the same level of flair and user-friendliness. The Settings menu uses large text and a straightforward list structure, while judicious use of graphics for trickier procedures like network setup could be a real godsend for beginners.
The network functions are easy to navigate, particularly Smart Hub. Each area – the home page, Your Video, Search All, the App Store – is laid out clearly using eye-catching graphics. The only awkwardness arises when entering user names and passwords into the many dialogue boxes using the remote, which is a little time consuming, but thankfully it remembers what you’ve entered for future use.
We encountered few stumbling blocks when using Freeview, apart from the obvious limitations that arise from the inclusion of a single tuner – with a USB HDD connected, you can only record and watch one channel at a time. Recordings are stored in an attractive library screen, which is easy to access from the main menu and uses thumbnails for each title. Navigation is more muddled than we hoped, using superfluous editing submenus, but on the whole it’s pretty straightforward.
The Freeview EPG packs everything into a single screen (live TV, six-programme grid, synopsis) without feeling particularly cluttered and we like the onscreen info banner that offers a comprehensive array of details about what you’re watching. It also allows you to scroll through forthcoming programmes on any channel, rather than limiting you to now and next info. Channel changing is fairly quick and the lightning fast digital text makes our Sky box seem slower than Ceefax.
The remote is user-friendly to the point of being patronising. The chunky, colour-coded buttons are laid out and labelled in a way that only an idiot would fail to grasp, while key functions like Smart Hub are granted their own buttons.