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Samsung BD-H6500: Performance and Verdict

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

Samsung BD-H6500 – Operation

Samsung has revamped the onscreen menus for 2014, although it’s more of a subtle tweak than a full-on overhaul. The Home menu is your jump-off point for any function, broken down into four sections – Play Disc, Films and TV Shows, Multimedia and Apps. Each section is represented by a large panel containing stylised illustrations (as opposed to actual cover art). It’s easier on the eye than last year’s over-simplified design.

Samsung BD-H6500

The row of recommended apps running along the bottom provides quick access to popular content, as well as icons for Screen Mirroring and Settings.

The Films and TV Shows menu presents a range of movies available from on-demand services (illustrated by their poster art), providing cast/crew details and related content, although none of the content we selected was available to watch – we could only post about them on Facebook and Twitter or favourite them, which seems pointless.

Samsung BD-H6500

Samsung BD-H6500

The Multimedia menu displays content stored on networked servers, USB drives and cloud storage. The first screen shows all the connected devices, followed by series of folders until you reach your content. To make the most of network streaming you should upload music to the online sharing software Samsung Link, as it supports a wider range of formats than Windows Media Player. It works smoothly, but it’s a pain to set up and took nearly half a day’s use before our Samsung Link-registered PC appeared in the list of devices.

Samsung BD-H6500

Samsung Apps lets you browse and download online content. Downloaded apps are presented in a simple grid – nothing fancy but easy to digest. You can browse content in the Most Popular and What’s New sections or by category – the latter’s selection screen uses more of those lovely stylised illustrations.

In terms of operation the BD-H6500 is super fast. It boots up in under 10 seconds, and when scanning Blu-ray discs or skipping chapters it happens instantaneously, with no long pauses like the Samsung decks of old. The cursor also moves around the menus sharply, while apps like BBC iPlayer load up in seconds. It’s a slick, satisfying user experience. Only the web browser lets the side down – navigating around the onscreen links with the remote is cumbersome (you can connect a mouse and keyboard if you can be bothered).

Samsung BD-H6500Disc loading is even faster than last year’s models, loading the clunky, Java-heavy Terminator Salvation disc in just over 20 seconds. Less complex discs start playing almost as quickly as a DVD, which is impressive.

The remote is classic Samsung fare – nicely sized and ergonomic, with clearly-labelled rubber buttons organised into distinct sections. The playback keys glow in the dark too.

Samsung BD-H6500 – Performance

The BD-H6500's performance with the Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray is impressive. The Video Resolution Loss test pattern looks clean and sharp, and it renders the moving white bars of the ‘jaggies’ test with flawless edges. There is some flickering on the vertical striped boxes of the Film Resolution Loss test pattern however, struggling to lock onto its cadence.

There are no such niggles with movie playback however. The opening scene of Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray looks absolutely stunning – as Kirk and Bones leg it through the undergrowth from the Nibiru natives, deep and vibrant shades of red and yellow burst from the screen. The varying red tones on the ground and amid the layers of vines are smoothly and subtly blended too, giving a convincing impression of depth and three-dimensionality.

The image is wonderfully sharp and solid, and every shot is packed with detail. From wide, CG enhanced shots of futuristic London right down to facial close-ups and textures of clothing, the BD-H6500 renders fine lines and textures with pin-sharp clarity.

Its superb contrast range makes the image look solid and filmic, so when JJ Abrams casts his lens across space, the white Enterprise stands out sharply against the profound blackness. Dark cityscapes and dingy interior shots also look clear and punchy.

3D pictures boast the same superb detail, natural colours and deep contrast, but with the added benefit of stereoscopic depth and layering, all competently passed on by the Samsung. Edges are tight and definite with no obvious bleed or ghosting, and objects move around the screen smoothly.

Other video sources – such as hi-def programmes streamed from BBC iPlayer or MKV files – look similarly impressive, while DVDs look clear and bold with acceptable levels of edge stepping and block noise.

Samsung BD-H6500

Should I buy the Samsung BD-H6500?

Splash out on the BD-H6500 and you won’t be disappointed. Not only does it look the part in its slim, stylish casing, but it’s packed with features and operates like a dream. Samsung’s online content is still second to none and DLNA file streaming works well.

The onscreen menus have been improved, making the user experience even slicker than its predecessor, and it’s backed up by dazzling picture quality from Blu-ray discs.

However, build quality isn’t great for the money, and aside from the revamped menus and addition of multiroom support – which admittedly will be a brilliant feature for those who have invested in Samsung’s M7/M5 speakers and Hub – the BD-H6500 doesn’t offer a great deal more than its predecessor, the Samsung BD-F6500. That could persuade some buyers to save cash and seek out the earlier model.

But none of this stops the BD-H6500 being a brilliant Blu-ray player in its own right, and is well worth a look if you want a slim, Smart hi-def deck for the lounge or bedroom.

Verdict

Build quality aside, the BD-H6500 is a brilliant Blu-ray deck that boasts a bevy for features for a tantalising price.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Design 7
  • Features 10
  • Performance 9
  • Value 9

David Horn

March 24, 2014, 8:33 am

This is going to sound thick, but since all the Blu-Ray player has to do is take a digital stream from the disc and fire it off down the HDMI cable for the TV to sort out, wouldn't you expect every player to deliver identical performance? So accurate colours are down to the quality of the TV, not the player.

MattMe

March 24, 2014, 9:59 am

I've thought this pretty much every time I read a review of a Blu-Ray player.

It's a bit like HDMI cables, where all it's doing is passing digital content. so long as it's not broken, it's doing it's job. Simple as that.

I guess with a Blu-Ray player things like up-scaling and processing may effect the final image. If it were just passing the signal I think you'd be right, but these machines usually add their own 'sparkle' to the image. That's my understanding at least.

Matthew Salmon

March 24, 2014, 10:22 pm

no - the content is being processed - so the player reads large amounts of data from the disk and then processes it into an image and sound - there is no stream directly from the disk.. you are right that colour accuracy is mostly down to the TV tho

Quest

March 25, 2014, 2:20 pm

What's up with the BD-rive: is it a silent player?

Matthew Hayes

March 31, 2014, 6:53 pm

I've just taken delivery of a shiny, new BD-H6500 but, contrary to the review, it does not seem to have iPlayer on it. All the other catch-up services but not the one I use most. Am I missing something obvious?

andyvan

April 1, 2014, 8:23 am

Samsung definitely has it -- it's the only company to have all the catch-up services. I suggest you drop Samsung a line. They can probably help.

Matthew Hayes

April 1, 2014, 8:42 am

I contacted Samsung Customer Support: their reply "Upon initial release of products annually, there is typically a period of up to 4 weeks from release before all apps are available in the Smart Hub. These are released onto the Smart Hub servers in phases so the apps will be coming soon, although we cannot advise of a specific date for any individual app's availability". So it looks as if I shall have to wait patiently for an indefinite period.
Odd though as both this review and Samsung's own material emphasises the availability of all the catch-up apps as a selling point for Smart TV.

colB

April 7, 2014, 3:18 pm

It does seem strange that the review talks about using a feature that doesn't even exist yet!
FWIW, the BBC has a list of all devices that are "iPlayer certified" and none of Samsungs 2014 units are on it yet while sony, panasonic etc. do have 2014 devices on the list.
http://iplayerhelp.external.bb...
Who knows how long we will be waiting to experience: "apps like BBC iPlayer load up in seconds".
I guess the lesson is don't buy anything from Samsung until it's been on the shelves for 6 months, and don't trust trustedreviews. :)

colB

April 7, 2014, 3:22 pm

I already dropped Samsung a line, They said they don't have iPlayer for he BD-H6500 because it's not ready yet.

colB

April 9, 2014, 2:57 pm

I bought a BD-H6500, partly on the strength of this review. One of my required features was iPlayer support. Your review clearly mentions using the iPlayer app. Now I have the device and there is no iPlayer. I have talked to Samsung about this and they say it's not available yet. Nowhere in the review does is mention that it is not the retail version being reviewed. Maybe Samsung sent you a unit with a beta iPlayer app... however, you don't mention that in the review, and now rather than apologising for the misleading information, you are defending it by referencing a chromecast review?! and calling me a troll. wow.

Matthew Hayes

May 20, 2014, 1:33 pm

2 months on and the iPlayer app still not available. Samsung customer support say "soon".

Mike Dinsdale

June 10, 2014, 10:41 am

What file formats can it play via DLNA please? Will it handle MP4/MKV or AVI? I'm looking toupgrade my old unit and include DLNA rather than buying a separate unit. Thanks.

TheNash

July 29, 2014, 11:13 am

You might like to know that as of this week, the iPlayer app is now available on the smart hub! You should find it on the 'popular' apps category.

This has been an annoyingly long wait, but it was out of Samsung's hands. Apparently, BBC pulled the app for 'testing and certification' just as this hit the shelves. This is why a lot of review sites who had it early saw the app and we didn't.

TheNash

July 29, 2014, 11:15 am

The iPlayer app is now available :-) Check on the 'popular' apps category

Andy W

July 29, 2014, 1:00 pm

I like the look of this, but it appears that I could not record from a HD Camcorder onto it, or make/record Blu Ray discs? I'm still used to the ol' VHS decks where I could back up all my films?? Or is too simple a task nowadays?? :)

Darrell Darrell

November 28, 2014, 10:59 am

I use plex on my pc with a mapped drive to my NAS where all I have is 1080p content in MKV. There is a plex app for the player and it upscales EVERYTHING to 2160p.

Paul C

January 24, 2015, 9:22 pm

Will not play "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" or "Guardians of the Galaxy". Samsung support says that a firmware update is coming "soon". I am returning this machine to get one that plays movies that I want to watch. Will NEVER buy Samsung again.

Eldiablo Evony

March 2, 2015, 2:51 pm

Piece of shit, the controls for moving around the screen is infuriatingly slow and ponderous, you feel like you are trying to move an earthmoving machine around the screen it is that cumbersome. You cant download apps as you cant find one that matches the operating system, it stops the sound on movies it doesn't approve off and sticks a big label on the screen. It is fine for playing discs and that's about it other than that buy a computer and watch that because you can use a keyboard and mouse something this player wont let you.
These machines are the biggest waste of money, buy a computer or aniPad or something, just not this!!!

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