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January's CES demonstrated that 2009 will be the year when Blu-ray finally fulfils its potential thanks to a new wave of players equipped with all sorts of exciting innovations. For starters, most of the players coming out this year are BD Live enabled, leaving behind the annoying Profiles nonsense that has blighted the format's take-up since day one. Furthermore, companies like LG have taken web connectivity one stage further by incorporating video-on-demand access, as we witnessed recently with the marvellous BD370.
Another company pushing the envelope this year is Samsung, which storms back onto the scene with two new standalone BD Live players, the BD-P3600 and BD-P4600. We've got our hands on the latter, which has the distinction of being the world's first wall-mountable Blu-ray player. But while the ability to wall mount the BD-P4600 is the obvious headline grabber, from a technological perspective it boasts some arguably more significant developments, which we'll discuss in due course.
The BD-P4600's wall mountability is reflected in its rulebook-rewriting design, which makes it the most jaw-dropping hi-def deck around. With its slim 1.5in profile, elegantly curved bodywork and piano black finish infused with charcoal grey highlights and translucent edges, the BD-P4600 is beautifully unique and will no doubt draw looks of pure envy from anyone who claps eyes on it.
On the deck's front panel is a row of touch-sensitive buttons, which ups the wow factor even further, and a small display panel that shows the elapsed time. Build quality is a bit plasticky but we'll cut Samsung some slack given that lightness is a virtue on a wall-mountable player.
The necessary brackets are supplied in the box, but if you don't fancy wall mounting then you'll also find a screw-on stand that props the player up at a 25 degree angle, which looks equally stylish.
Flip the player over and you'll find a limited array of sockets, which is hardly surprising given the lack of space on the back. There's an HDMI output, an Ethernet port, an optical digital audio output and composite video/stereo audio outputs, but there are no multichannel analogue outputs or component video outputs.