It’s on the inside where the Samsung BD-E6100 really excels, with an impressive array of connected features to play around with. Key to this is built-in Wi-Fi, which allows you to get online without the need for a USB adapter. If you don't have Wi-Fi home broadband you can obviously use the Ethernet port, but it feels so old fashioned these days.
Once connected, hit the Smart Hub button on the remote (or enter via the Home menu) and you step into Samsung’s internet portal where you can explore a wealth of content, including video-on-demand, internet radio stations, social networking, games and puzzles – as well as some new signature services for 2012.
Samsung’s content choice is now better than ever, with crowd-pleasers like BBC iPlayer and Netflix lining up alongside smart stalwarts like YouTube, Picasa and Dailymotion. Social networking is covered by Facebook, Twitter and Google Talk apps, while USA Today, AccuWeather.com and This Day In History are among the more high-brow options.
Samsung Apps is where all available content is stored, using a bold, user-friendly interface – simply select and install the ones you want. BBC iPlayer didn’t appear here during our test but we’re assured that it’ll be there (as it was on the BD-E8500 and HT-E6750W) by the time it's in shops. Elsewhere you’ll find the Search tool and Your Video features from last year’s range.
You also get three new zones within Smart Hub – Fitness, Family Story and Kids. Described as a ‘unified self-care service’, Fitness is home to a variety of workout videos, as well as tools that track how many calories you’ve burned. Family Story is a simple social networking tool that lets you upload photos for fellow Samsung owners to view – useful for sharing pics with people not on other social network sites, such as elderly relatives.
Finally, Kids gathers together a bunch of games, cartoons and puzzles to keep the sprogs entertained, presented in suitably loud and bubbly menus. Much of the content in these zones can be installed through the regular Smart Hub interface, but this is a more convenient way of accessing them – plus the bright and breezy graphical menus is a lot more fun.
If Samsung’s selection doesn’t suffice, you can cast your (inter)net wider and use the built-in browser, but we wouldn’t recommend it, even if you use a wireless USB mouse or keyboard. The arrow cursor is painfully slow to move around the screen when using the ‘pointer browsing’ method, but switching to ‘link browsing’ – where it jumps from link to link without having to move the cursor – is equally cumbersome. It’s so sluggish and clumsy that we guarantee you’ll give up and get the laptop out.
Elsewhere, the deck is DLNA certified and can stream media content from PCs and other devices on your network. You can also access files stored on a PC from a smartphone, using the Samsung as a renderer. The BD-E6100 isn’t necessarily dependent on you having Wi-Fi router coverage either – it supports Wi-Fi Direct, allowing you to create a peer-to-peer network. But when the deck is connected to a router, the Soft AP (Software enabled Access Point) feature allows other devices to connect to the same network through the Samsung.
When playing media over a network or from USB devices, the range of supported formats is excellent. On the video side, it handles AVI, MKV, MP4, ASF 3GP, VRO, VOB, PS and TS containers, plus DivX, XviD, MPEG-4, WMV, MPEG-2 and MPEG-1 codecs. It’ll also play MP3, WMA, FLAC and JPEG.
Content is now easier to find too, thanks to the tweaked AllShare feature, now dubbed AllShare Play. This gathers together all content found on USB devices and the network into a single place, listing the types of content on the left and connected devices on the right.
Last but not least the deck can pipe frame sequential Full HD 3D images to a compatible TV over its HDMI v1.4 connection. There are no manual image tweaks as found on Panasonic’s players but you can enter the size of your TV for the optimal picture.