You can never accuse Samsung of skimping on features, and its generosity continues with the BD-D8900M. Our favourite of these features is Smart Hub, Samsung’s new web portal that brings a range of applications to your TV screen. Not only has the range of content been improved since last year’s Internet@TV system with the addition of BBC iPlayer, but also the presentation, which is gorgeous. The bright and breezy Smart Hub menu lays out its app icons in a grid, allowing you to put them into folders (useful if several family members want to keep their own content separate). New apps are added quickly and easily from the App Store.
Also among the apps are Picasa, Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, BBC News and DailyMotion, alongside a wealth of lesser-known and specialist apps. You can also access loads of puzzles, games and children’s activities, making it a truly family-friendly feature. It’s still no match for Sony’s BRAVIA Internet Video, which provides more catch-up TV content, but not far behind.
The new Your Video feature lets you look up information about movies new and old, and gives you the opportunity to like or share those movies on social network sites, while the new search mode looks for content related to a keyword on Your Video, YouTube and Facebook, although it doesn’t search the Freeview EPG.
Next up is the DLNA AllShare feature, which allows you to stream content from networked devices such as PCs and NAS drives. Like previous Samsung products the list of supported formats is lengthy – DivX HD, MP3, WMA, MKV, AVI, WMV to name but a few – although it wouldn’t stream AVCHD (which can be played from disc). You can also play the same multimedia formats through the USB port and use the BD-D8900M to rip CDs onto the hard disk then copy them to USB or stream them if you wish. There’s no Blu-ray recording though, like Panasonic’s latest combis – this is a straight-up player.
Not only will the BD-D8900M play 3D Blu-ray discs, but it will also convert 2D pictures to 3D. That applies not only to Blu-ray discs and DVDs but also to Freeview programmes/recordings, Smart Hub content and videos streamed over the network or played from USB devices. You can alter the depth with settings from 1 to 10.
And on the digital TV side, there’s a decent array of features on board including dual Freeview HD tuners, which makes it possible to change channels while recording, but it’s hamstrung by its inability to only record one channel at a time. Elsewhere there’s Time Shift, which allows you to pause live TV or watch a programme from the start while it’s still being recorded. There’s an eight-day EPG with series link and all the other broadcaster-controlled features common among PVRs. Series link is activated using polite dialogue boxes, and once set the Schedule Manager shows you all the instances when that particular series is being shown, along with all your other scheduled recordings.