After the quick and painless boot-up, the Samsung BD-E6100 checks all the crucial settings, including wireless network setup and a software update check, which took around 20 minutes to complete. Thanks to the attractive, straightforward onscreen menus this process feels quick and easy, although the subsequent barrage of further software updates being pushed our way got a little annoying – hopefully they'll have settled down by the time the deck is widely available.
The menu system is superb. Your starting point is the attractive Home menu, which uses large animated icons for Smart Hub, AllShare Play and Settings. The bright colour palette and clarity of the graphics (now in proper HD) makes them a joy to navigate, and that goes for the other key menus. It’s not as intuitive as Panasonic’s latest GUI but it’s hard not to be impressed by it.
Everything is controlled using a tidy, ergonomic remote. Button size and labelling are spot-on, while thoughtful button placement makes your thumb feel right at home. Great stuff.
Disc loading is relatively fast, firing up the tricky Terminator Salvation disc in 40 seconds flat (from pressing Close to the first video appearing), and its picture quality is excellent. Next we switched to the spectacular 3D images of Panasonic’s promotional Avatar Blu-ray, which the Samsung passes to our UE55D8000 TV with aplomb. It’s a comfortable, natural watch but with loads of detail and good colour depth.
The amazing ‘First Sortie’ chapter looks gorgeous, from shots of creatures flying alongside the helicopter – rendered with emphatic clarity and no smearing – to shots of the chopper touching down within the forest. With the latter, the pictures are hypnotically deep and beautifully composed, stretching back into the distance with little crosstalk to spoil the show. As the scene progresses, flapping ferns in the foreground and tree branches poke at the camera convincingly.
Get back to basics with 2D and you get more of the same sparkling picture quality. The image is crystal clear and drenched in deep, natural colours. Shading is subtle where required and shadow detail during darker scenes is clear, ensuring you don’t miss out on the action.
It also handles most of the torture tests on the Silicon Optix HQV disc competently, although there’s some strobing on the evil Film Resolution Loss pattern and we’ve seen the camera pan across Raymond James stadium looking smoother. But on the whole there’s some sound video processing at work here.
Elsewhere we had no trouble playing multimedia files over a network or USB. Hi-def MKV files containing 1080p video look fabulous, video streamed via Wi-Fi from Netflix is consistently smooth and sharp, while the deck does a passable job as a CD player.
The Samsung BD-E6100 is a marvellous Blu-ray player, offering shed loads of must-have features – not least the improved Smart Hub portal, with new services likely to appeal to families and fitness fanatics alike. As ever its multimedia support over DLNA or USB is second to none and it’s controlled using a slick, friendly operating system. More importantly it delivers dazzling 3D and 2D pictures.
The only issues are the slow web browser, sparse connections and design, which lacks the solidity and frills of other Samsung decks. But these aren’t issues that should scupper the deal, particularly when you take the alluring price tag into account – making this a great-value deck that gives the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 a run for its money.