There are also two USB ports, which can be used to connect flash memory devices and play back DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG. It’s also the first Blu-ray deck we’ve tested that plays DivX HD movies, which is a real bonus.
But these USB ports have a much more interesting purpose – you can plug in the optional 802.11 b/g/n USB WiFi dongle and connect to the Internet wirelessly instead of using the Ethernet connection, which is yet another Blu-ray first. Sadly Samsung didn’t supply one for us to try out, but the Ethernet connection works a treat.
And on another USB-related note, the BD-P4600 is also the first Profile 2.0 player we’ve encountered that doesn’t need a USB stick to store updates and downloaded movie content, thanks to the 1GB of built-in memory – although you can further expand the memory using a USB stick if you wish.
However, unlike the LG BD370 the BD-P4600 doesn’t offer YouTube access or other online content streaming. It’s a shame, as the US version of the BD-P4600 allows users to stream movies from Netflix and music from Pandora, but there’s no such functionality on the UK version.
Elsewhere, the BD-P4600’s feature list is solid. Not only can it pipe Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks to an AV receiver in bitstream form, but it can also convert them to uncompressed PCM for playback on HDMI-equipped receivers without HD audio decoding. The deck also supports 24fps output and upscales DVDs to 1080p.
The player does, however, share its Korean counterpart’s quick disc loading times. Slide ”Spider-Man 3” into the side-mounted slot and it gets to the first welcome screen (after the spider ‘loading’ logo) in 28 seconds, which is quite an improvement on Samsung’s last deck, the BD-P1500. It’s also a lot quicker to scan through discs and skip chapters than its predecessor.
In fact the entire user interface is magnificent. The responsive main menu screen has been slightly tweaked since the BD-P1500, with a slightly different colour palette and layout, although the vertical row of options (Video, Music, Photo and Setup) with the submenus coming off the side remains the same. This screen can also be used to search the contents of a connected USB device.
The BD-P4600 has also been treated to a brand new remote, which features an alluring gloss-black finish and is a vast improvement on Samsung’s previous zappers. Taking its cue from Panasonic’s ultra-simple remotes, the Samsung version features big, chunky buttons, foolproof labelling and an intuitive layout, which makes Blu-ray browsing a painless process.