Calling the Samsung BD-E8500 a Blu-ray player is like calling Jessica Ennis a ‘runner’. Sure it can spin hi-def discs – 3D ones at that – but its range of other talents is so vast that Blu-ray playback feels like a sideline. In fact, Samsung is keen to stress that this is not a Blu-ray player with a hard-disk, but a Smart PVR with Blu-ray.
More specifically, it’s a twin-tuner Freeview HD PVR with a 500GB hard-disk drive, packed with Samsung’s customary smart technology and a wealth of networking tricks, internet content and other snazzy features. Let’s dive in and see what it has to offer.
The BD-E8500’s design is on the functional side, with little of Samsung’s usual pizzazz – but that’s not crucial on a product like this, which is designed to slot quietly and discreetly into your AV rack. There are nice touches though, such as the central display panel that incorporates the touch-sensitive controls, the disc slot and a curved silver section running along the bottom of its slim, robust casing.
It sports a fairly run-of-the-mill socket selection, but it’s good to see USB ports on the front and back, both of which allow you to play digital media from storage devices. The line-up is completed by HDMI v1.4, analogue stereo, optical digital audio and composite video outputs, plus an Ethernet port and RF in/out. A Common Interface Slot can be found on the side for adding pay TV channels.