Samsung has always managed quick Blu-ray disc loading times and the BD-D8500 is no different. Terminator Salvation started playing in 37 seconds, which is a reasonable wait, but most discs fire up a lot faster.
The BD-D8500 is an excellent performer with 2D Blu-ray material, delivering an astonishingly bright and engaging image with no noise to speak of. Fine detail is rendered with emphatic sharpness and stability, plus it achieves wonderful picture depth through its dense, solid blacks and clear shadow detailing. These qualities are clearly evident with Terminator Salvation’s gloomy yet intensely detailed transfer, which look fantastic
It also does a decent job at reproducing the test patterns on Silicon Optix’s HQV evaluation disc. The Video Resolution Loss test looks stable, with no strobing in any of the boxes. The Jaggies tests are also masterfully reproduced – the edges of the rotating bars are smooth and free from stepping, which reveals that the diagonal processing is up to scratch. However, the Film Resolution Loss test pattern suffers from significant strobing in the corner boxes and the subsequent camera pan across Raymond James stadium shows moiré noise patterning in the upper tier of seats.
High-definition channels on Freeview HD look remarkably crisp and vibrant, particularly Human Planet on BBC One HD. The stunning photography is conveyed with all the deep, luscious colours and intricate detail intact, with nary a trace of noise. You don’t have to watch programmes live to enjoy this level of quality either, as they’re captured on the hard-disk in pristine quality.
Standard-definition channels don’t quite match up, and it’s not just about the drop in resolution – there’s more block and mosquito noise in the picture, a problem that appears to be exacerbated when recorded on the hard-disk, but this level of noise is to be expected from Freeview pictures and it shouldn’t greatly mar your enjoyment.
All things considered, the BD-D8500 is a mind-blowing product. Few Blu-ray players can match its staggeringly generous range of features, which includes Freeview HD recording, built-in Wi-Fi, 3D playback and easy-to-use networking tools. Most impressive of all is Samsung’s new-look internet portal, which boasts more content and a friendlier layout than last year’s Internet@TV. Aside from this incredible feature list, the BD-D8500 provides excellent Blu-ray pictures, sports an attractive new GUI and a typically alluring external design.
On the downside it’s a little sluggish in operation, certain functions are a bit long-winded and two-channel recording would have provided even more recording flexibility – if that’s what you’re after, check out a dedicated Freeview HD PVR instead. We’d also like to see a few catch-up TV services added to Smart Hub. But these things aside, the BD-D8500 is a superb solution for those who want to upgrade to Freeview HD and Blu-ray in one fell swoop – provided your budget can stretch to it.