Samsung BD-F8500 - Performance and Verdict

By Danny Phillips



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung BD-F8500


Our Score:


Samsung BD-F8500 - Performance

Freeview HD channels look stunning, particularly with brightly-lit fare like The Alan Titchmarsh show on ITV HD. The studio’s bold colours are displayed with great warmth and purity, but there’s an impressive level of sensitivity there too, resulting in smooth tonal blends and a realistic representation of Alan’s slightly ruddy skin tones.

Samsung BD-F8500

But the biggest benefit of Freeview HD is the extra detail it affords, and the BD-F8500 lets none of it slip through the net. Images are punchy and clear, making it easy to pick out fine detail like facial hair and complex patterns (Noel Edmonds’ kaleidoscopic shirts on Deal or No Deal look extraordinary), while edges are crisp. We also watched Ratatouille on BBC One HD and Pixar’s sumptuous animation is reproduced with spellbinding clarity.

We recorded a selection of high-definition programmes onto the hard disk and couldn’t tell the difference between live and recorded pictures. You get exactly the same crisp detail, vibrant colours and smooth movement.

Samsung BD-F8500

Standard definition pictures scrub up nicely when upscaled to 1080p. There’s inevitably a hint of softness to the image and an increase in mosquito noise when people and objects move around, but they’re bright and engaging, with bold colours and impressive stability.

The BD-F8500’s Blu-ray picture quality is every bit as good as the BD-F7500 and F6500, offering the same meticulous detail, nuanced colours and bold blacks. That makes movies like The Dark Knight trilogy look effortlessly cinematic and absorbing, an experience that increases tenfold when you slip a 3D disc in the tray. The 3D image is rich and detailed, with a wonderful sense of depth and distance. It also handles the Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray disc without any slip-ups.

Upscaled DVDs look clear and stable, while picture quality from BBC iPlayer is excellent if you select the HD option. It’s almost as good as the live HD broadcast, apart from a little fuzzy noise when the picture gets too busy. If the other catch-up TV services can match this level of quality then this will be a terrific back-up if you forget to record a programme.

Samsung BD-F8500


The BD-F8500 is a remarkable home entertainment hub, brilliantly blending Freeview, Blu-ray and smart features within a single box. There’s a terrific line-up of internet content on board – including loads of on-demand movies and a full house of catch-up TV services – while format support via AllShare is excellent. Add 3D, built-in Wi-Fi, screen mirroring and a capacious hard disk and you’re getting a lot for your money. Furthermore, the new Smart Hub, speedy processing and flexible Freeview functionality make it a joy to use, while picture quality from Freeview and Blu-ray is excellent – all of which makes this simultaneously one of the best PVRs and Blu-ray players around.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 10
  • Performance 9
  • Value 9


April 10, 2013, 10:04 am

never buy samsung players


April 11, 2013, 6:25 pm

No S recommendations like the new tv range then?


April 29, 2013, 10:15 am

I must've bought a different BD-F8500 to yours. I loathe this machine, it's UI is so incredibly bad.

To get to the list of recorded programmes takes about 8 button presses (including a pointless screen asking "Do you want to see the recorded programmes on my built-in 500Gb hard disc, or on an external USB key... even though I can see you haven't got any USB devices plugged in..") Genius.

They fill the remote control with buttons for Web Browser, e-manual, smart hub, social TV, etc etc... Give us a simple "Recordings" button, to take us immediately to a list (without pointless thumbnail images, please) of our recordings !!

And to delete a programme once you've watched it takes a MINIMUM of 10 button presses. It would've been SO much easier to have had a "Delete" option when you selected a programme and pressed the "Info" button, but no...

It takes about 1 minute from turning on the machine to get to the title menu of my Avatar Blu-Ray disc, and jumping to different scenes is incredibly slow (previously I was using a PS3 - it was much faster).

The user manual is barely finished - even the April 2013 one on Samsung's website. It sums up the "TV Guide" instruction in one line: "Provide programme information for each channels [sic]." And the "Edit Channel" function is explained in huge detail: "It is provided to edit functions for channel [sic, sic!]." That's pretty much the level of support you can expect for this product.

This is, without doubt, the biggest purchasing mistake I've made.

You think it's worth 9 out of 10 ? Really...?

(A week later.)

This thing's going back to Samsung. Last night I set it up to record The Apprentice from 9pm to 10pm (all worked fine), then a programme from 10pm to 10.30pm. This has recorded with all of the sound about 2 seconds out of sync. The TV channel is fine. The recording isn't.

Also, I still haven't worked out how to resume watching a DVD. It seems to "try" doing it sometimes, when I click on "Home", then "Play disc", then spends about two full minutes making "scraping" noises as it attempts to work out how to continue playing the disc. You can't stop it, or press Eject on the remote control or on the device itself. It just scrapes away. Usually, I give up on it, yank the power cable out, play the disc again, and it plays normally (from the very beginning of the disc though).

This happens on most of our DVDs, and cleaning them makes no difference at all.

So, it fails as a DVD/Blu-Ray player, it fails as a PVR and it's user interface is a disaster.

The worst consumer device I've bought in years.

Tim Callaghan

May 10, 2013, 11:12 am

Just taken delivery of this and set it up. I'm in the UK, so your mileage will vary. No LoveFilm, no ITV, no 5 on demand, no fact, no BBC iPlayer! Not entirely sure what's going on, but I'm not impressed thus far.

Tim Callaghan

May 10, 2013, 3:55 pm

Sorted my issues out, more trial and error than anything. Only think missing is 5 on demand...I can live with that. Interface is OK generally, would have been nice to get the Smart Hub interface off the TVs rather than the dumbed down three pane thing. UEX aside, I can't think of another single device that weighs in with all these features in one box. It's a little frustrating in places, lots of button pressing, not entirely common sense and the remote isn't the most responsive in the world either.

But, iPlayer, ITV player, 4OD, Netflix, LoveFilm, Twin HD PVR, BluRay Playback and media streaming (MKV, MP4, xViD etc). I think I can put up with a few quirks. There's better interfaces out there, but none that do all of that ^^^^^.

Bucky O'Hare

May 13, 2013, 3:14 pm

I got the F8900M which is basically the same player but with a 1tb HD in place of the 500gb have had no issues with BluRay playback but there is a massive issue with the player when returning to live tv from using either BBC iPlayer or playing a Video from my PC using the AllShare connection where the Sound and Picture are out of sync only turning off and back on fixes it. Also the still missing Demand 5, ITV Player and the Blinkbox apps with no news on a release date for them is a negative as well.


June 10, 2013, 9:59 pm

What's the best PVR (preferably with Blu-Ray player) that allows you to back-up external archives of TV-programs you record?


June 15, 2013, 10:09 am

The Panasonic DMR-BWT735 will allow the archiving of recorded TV programs to a recordable DVD or Blu-ray disc. But like most of these HDD recorders you can't record to an external HDD for playback on another system.

Only the Humax recorders allow the transfer of recordings for use externally.


June 15, 2013, 10:13 am

The Panasonic products may be a little more expensive but at least they have been designed with the user in mind! Watching a recorded program and want to delete it... just press the DEL key on the remote and then confirm the deletion! Quick and simple as it should be! I think the reviewer for this must have had some rose tinted specs on!


June 22, 2013, 1:17 pm

Bought one of these about a month ago. Mistake!
1. Would not connect to B/G router had to buy N router
2. Web browsing very slow (20mbps connection get about 3-4 mbps through this device) so cannot use live content
3. Recording is virtually useless, cannot add padding to record times, in most cases starts recording well after scheduled EPG time so misses start of show. Samsungs fix for this is to manually input recording times. Hardly a fix but even when attempting the EPG over rides the manual time and sets it back to EPG time. Our EPG timing is spot on by the way, I have a Topfield PVR on and it runs fine from the broadcast EPG never misses a recording.
4. Series link records multiple channels so often get two recordings of the same show (Toppy doesn't do this)
5. Many recordings report FAIL for no apparent reason
6. Timeshift does not work unless you press PLAY on the remote whilst watching the channel you want to timeshift - very odd no idea how they came up with this logic.
7. Remote control not intuitive
Essentially I have paid $400 for a set top box as the recording is of no use at all. PS I have a Toppy TRF7160 and it has its shortfalls but far exceeds the Samsung unit. Bought the Samsung for the BD and Catch Up TV apps which do work very well I will add.


July 15, 2013, 3:04 am

I bought one yesterday, installed and updated to the latest s/w version 1004.1. Have already noticed that Scheduled Recording TV via the Guide is rubbish - If the TV program moves or plays later you end up getting only the last bits of the previously scheduled program and it stops recording - utterly useless! Called Samsung Support about this and they basically said they haven't heard about this problem before and asked if I could reset the box and try again. I also found that the region free codes do not work and I have several DVD's which are in different Regions that I can't play any more - WTF - (in Australia the ACCC has commissioned that Region Free should be allowed)! Now the other issue I found is that I also have BD-F5500 Blu-Ray player (BTW region free codes work fine for the BD-F5500)- When I originally connected the BD-F8500A/XY (I use Marantz 1504 AV Receiver connected to Samsung Series 8 ES8000M 3D LED TV HDMI/ARC port on TV and HDMI/ARC port on Marantz) while the BD-F5500 is connected I select the Anynet+ option from TV to Blu-Ray Recorder it then tries to connect via HDMI1/DVI when it should connect to HDMI2. I can however still access the BD-F5500 - now if I disconnect BD-F5500 and then power cycle TV/Marantz and BD-F8500 I now am able to select the BD Recorder and it is switched on the correct HDMI2 Channel. Now if I connect the BD-F5500 now the F5500 will try connection to HDMI1/DVI port. I own a Panasonic DMR-XW350 for several years now and having this connected to Marantz works fine, works fine even with the BD-F5500 connected so WTF??? I purchased to Samsung PVR thinking it would be less hassles and work seamlessly, but this at its current state is the wrong assumption - I think there is some Anynet+ problems with Samsung connected devices and in particularly having the BD-F8500 and BD-F5500 connected to the same AV Receiver that fully supports HDMI-CEC/ARC... I plan to try and replace the BD-F8500 with another one by returning it and if the same problem persists then I will return that and get my money back - not good enough Samsumg, I should have read user reviews/feedback first before even looking at anything!!!!


August 11, 2013, 1:54 am

Not only Humax. Many Topfield models have an FTP Server (I use TRF7160) to transfer mpg files to a PC. These can be played back on your PC with "The KM Player" or (my preference) edited and encoded in an external program.
However, if you want an integrated Blu Ray player, Topfield is not for you.

Neil Willis

October 28, 2013, 6:39 pm

The Iplayer and 4OD etc are all good
and easy to use, although the volume starts very high on Iplayer.

Picture quality is very good,
especially on the Blu-ray player.

That's about it on the plus side.

On the down side the main issue with
the Samsung is the awful user interface. I don't know if Samsung are
trying to be clever (and failing) or if it's just simply ill
conceived. Particular irritations include:

While watching a programme, or worse
while engrossed in a film, a pop-up appears (covering about a quarter
of the screen) to inform you when a scheduled recording is about to
start, and to ask if you want to switch to that channel to check if
the schedule has changed. Apart from the annoyance of having to reach
for the remote to clear the screen, it's not clear what one is
supposed to do with this 'information' as the wording is ambiguous.
There is no way to turn this 'feature' off.

Most dialogue boxes are ambiguous and
take several readings to determine what they are trying to tell you.

Schedule recordings normally start a
minute or so before the programme starts and end before it's
finished. Adding time is possible but not a simple task and
irritating to have to do every time you set a recording.

To record a programme you are currently
watching is stupidly convoluted. I'm still not sure how it works,
there seems to be no way of recording just the programme (once it's
started), it seems to work as a kind of 'time shift' function –
either way it's irritating and unsatisfactory.

Programmes recorded 'live' (or time
shift, I'm not sure, see previous comments) are stored somewhere
completely different to 'schedule recordings'. We thought recording
weren't working before we stumbled upon them by chance. This location
seems to be the main hard drive 'viewer' and lists everything stored.
It's ugly, cumbersome and clumsy and we have not yet been able to
work out a way of deleting this content – you can delete from the
'schedule recording' list but the 'file' remains on the hard drive
listed in this other location. Hopefully we can work it out before
the hard drive is full!

To find a schedule recording is also
stupidly convoluted. It took us most of the first evening to find
these recordings; they are tucked away as though watching recorded
programmes is a rarely used 'feature' – you actually have to pass a
list of programmes set to record in the future before you get to the
list of those you actually might want to watch in the present! It
takes a minimum of 10 button presses, mostly counter intuitive, to
start viewing a recording.

Programme information displayed in the
schedule recordings list is for the programme just finished and not
the programme you've recorded.

Series link recording is completely
useless. Sometimes you get the first episode and then no more.
Sometimes you get every programme with the same name, including the
same episode on the plus one hour channels and repeats. Sorting
through the surplus (or finding the one you want to watch) in the
schedule manager is a pain, especially because of the wrong
information issue mentioned above.

The 'Smart' features are more of an
annoyance than feature. For example; while setting a recording
(another already button heavy process) a pop up appears suggesting
other programmes that may be of interest to you. We've been using the
machine for a a while now and every 'suggestion' has been completely
irrelevant – often listing numerous episodes of the same programme.
Despite advice from Samsung support to the contrary, we can't find a
way to turn this 'feature' off.

We have had occasional lip sync issues
with recorded programmes and streaming.

We're not technical novices and have
never had trouble with the operation of new purchases. The Samsung UI
is messy and often just silly...

Final example: there are frequent
dialogue boxes to which you have to select “OK” when there is no
other option and it's too late to do anything else anyway. Most
operations are too button heavy as it is, a selection box for an
information stage is pointless. It's not a huge problem, but on top
of everything else it reminds you of how poorly thought out the UI


November 5, 2013, 12:24 am

Thanks for taking the time to write your extensive and informative review. All the things you wrote about would bug the hell out of me after purchase so I'm so glad I read this before buying.

You have to wonder who designs the UI? All the money Samsung spent on R&D and then mass producing the item, but no commonsense in how to make it simple to use?

klarien masters

December 23, 2013, 2:06 am

I too loathe this unit, region encoding is in force and i can find no way to remove it. The menu is cumbersome, the lipsync on fast forward sometimes causes you to have to stop and restart, voice action switches itself on..... and for our Samsung viewers yes i have the latest f/w etc


December 30, 2013, 1:55 am

I would like to thank you for this review, it has put me off buying one. You can read why I dumped my Humax Foxsat HDR for similar issues with regards to series links ( By what you describe this is even worse, I am aware this is Freeview and not Freesat, I've given up on Freesat and thought I'd switch.

Now I have to see how the Panasonic DMR-BWT735 is with users. I must take issues with the main review, why does it NOT describe these problems, my Humax Foxsat box had 5/5 star reviews too, they did not mention any of the issues I had. Then again maybe I should be grateful for being able to read these very constructive comments.

On a final note, I am thinking of giving up on 'Free' solution and going back to Sky+ HD, series links work, and the response times are good. No playing off USB drives etc.


March 23, 2014, 10:38 am

Would you please care to explain how you delete a recording?


April 15, 2014, 1:40 am

This unit does not connect to a Bridge Wifi Network, so useless to me. Also Series Link recording is very hit and miss, it's doesn't always record even when when it says it is recording, the recorded show disappears, who knows where? Avoid this unit.

Jamie Dunbar

July 28, 2014, 10:42 am

I am starting to loathe this device but I am struggling to find anything else that has full UK catch up services and DNLA on the market. Does anyone else have an issue where they are recording one programme, start time shifting another and then have it dump them out when it gets to the end of the programme?

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