The BD-F6500’s feature set is virtually identical to that of the BD-F7500, apart from the 4K upscaling. Given its tempting price tag, that could make the F6500 one hell of a bargain.
In addtion, the BD-F6500 boasts built-in Wi-Fi, making it easy to get online. When connected, you can access Samsung’s online content portal, which includes BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Netflix, LoveFilm, Blinkbox, Knowhow Movies, Crackle, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, BBC News, Rightmove, AccuWeather, BFI Player and vTuner internet radio. That’s what you get out of the box, but more content can be downloaded from the Samsung Apps menu under a range of categories – video, games, sports, lifestyle, information and education. We’re a little surprised that ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 aren’t available yet (especially as ITV Player is found on Samsung’s TVs) but these are due to be added later this year.
Samsung’s 2013 Blu-ray players have ditched the Family Story photo-sharing service, but retain the Fitness and Kids sections. These aren’t quite as prominent within the new-look Smart Hub, as they’re now merged in with all the other app icons, but they’re no less fun to play around with. Their presentation is gorgeous, using crisp graphics and bright colours. Neither has changed since last year – Fitness again offers workout videos and progress monitoring tools, while Kids provides videos and educational games.
Another section added this year is ‘Movies and TV Shows’, an eye-catching menu that showcases a range of on-demand movies. It provides a faster and more convenient way of accessing movies than visiting the individual on-demand sites. The content comes from Samsung’s Video Hub service and Acetrax Movies.
However, there are some teething problems. When we selected an Acetrax movie to rent or buy, it took us to the installation page for Sony’s Crackle app. At the time of writing, the App server was ‘still in development’ and Acetrax hadn’t been added, but we expect this to be ironed out by the time these new players hit the market.
Samsung also retains the web browser from previous models, but it’s still tricky to use with the remote handset. In ‘pointer browsing’ mode the cursor crawls slowly around the screen, while in the alternative ‘link browsing’ mode it takes an age to skip to the link you want. Entering a web address is also time consuming, despite Samsung adding a predictive letter system to its virtual keyboard. However, the player does support a wireless mouse or keyboard.
Samsung has rejigged the AllShare DLNA media streaming feature this year, calling it ‘Photos, Videos & Music’ on the Home menu. You can stream a wide range of formats from PCs and other servers on your home network. It’s supposed to work with PCs running Windows 7 or 8, but with our Windows 7 laptop we found that it couldn’t stream MKV at all and only streamed AVCHD, DivX HD and WMV HD in SD resolution. However, after installing the Allshare software (downloaded free from Samsung’s website) it streamed all of the above files with no problems, as well as MP4, 3GP, XviD, WMV, MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV, APE, JPEG, PNG, BMP and MPO.
You can also beam files directly to the F6500 from smartphones and tablets using Wi-Fi Direct, and control playback of content stored on media servers using a smartphone on the same network, but you have to install the AllShare app first.
Like the BD-F7500, the step-down version features Screen Mirroring (dubbed AllShare Cast), which replicates your phone’s screen on your TV. To use it you’ll need to install and launch the AllShare Cast software on your phone, then hit the blue button on the Smart Hub menu. The player also supports Miracast devices.