Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-Ray Player Reviewed

Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-Ray Player Reviewed

Out of the box, the new BD-P1500 is a Profile 1.1 Blu-ray player, but it does have an Ethernet port...and Samsung plans to release a firmware upgrade to enable support of BD-Live Web features. Its $400 asking price is currently a good deal in the Blu-ray realm.

samsung_bd_p1500.gifSamsung's BD-P1500 is part of a small group of 2008 Blu-ray players that arrived on the market "BD-Live ready." That means the player is technically a Profile 1.1 player, containing the secondary audio and video decoders needed for picture-in-picture playback but lacking the ability to play BD-Live Web content. However, the BD-P1500 does sport an Ethernet port on its back panel, and Samsung has said that it plans to release a firmware update in late 2008 that will make the BD-P1500 a Profile 2.0 player and thus BD-Live capable. So, while this $399.99 unit may not have all the Blu-ray functionality you want out of the box, it presumably will soon.

Additional Resources
• Read more Blu-ray reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
 

The BD-P1500's connection panel is somewhat limited, even compared with other entry-level players. On the video side, it has HDMI, component video, and composite video outputs. For HDMI, the output-resolution options are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, and 1080p/24. This model does not have a dedicated Source Direct mode to play 1080p/24; you must enable 1080p/24 output in the setup menu, after which all 24p Blu-ray films will be output at 1080p/24 instead of 1080p/60. For component video, output-resolution options are 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i; 1080i the maximum output resolution for Blu-ray, and 480p is the maximum output resolution for standard-def DVDs. As for audio connections, the BD-P1500 offers HDMI, optical digital, and a set of stereo analog audio outputs. It lacks a coaxial digital audio output and multichannel analog audio outputs. The BD-P1500 has an internal Dolby TrueHD decoder but not a DTS-HD decoder; it will pass both types of high-resolution audio in their native bitstream form over HDMI. Samsung has also indicated that onboard DTS-HD decoding will soon be added via firmware update. Even if it is, however, the lack of multichannel analog audio outputs means you need to mate the player with a relatively new receiver that can at least accept uncompressed PCM over HDMI if you want to enjoy the higher-quality audio formats.

The player supports BD, DVD, and CD audio playback through its disc drive, but it does not support MP3, WMA, Divx, or JPEG playback. As we mentioned, an Ethernet port is included for firmware updates and potentially BD-Live functionality down the road; there's also a USB port that's currently used only for software updates but will be necessary for external storage when the BD-Live feature becomes active.

Read about the high points and the low points of the BD-P1500 on Page 2.

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High Points
• The BD-P1500 offers good video performance with Blu-ray discs and solid but not spectacular performance with DVD movies.
• The player passes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD in bitstream form over HDMI, for your receiver to decode if it has the necessary decoders.
• It has the ability to play picture-in-picture bonus content such as video commentaries and featurettes.
• The Ethernet port allows for easy firmware updates, and Samsung has promised to add BD-Live functionality before the end of 2008.

Low Points
• The Samsung BD-P1500 amazingly lacks onboard DTS-HD decoding.
• The absence of multichannel analog audio outputs means, if you want to enjoy higher-resolution audio, you need to mate the BD-P1500 with a newer receiver or AV preamp that can either decode high-resolution audio formats or at least accept uncompressed PCM over HDMI.
• The player does not support MP3, WMA, Divx, or JPEG playback.

Conclusion
Samsung's BD-P1500 offers generally good performance and most of the features Blu-ray fans want, for a very reasonable price by Blu-ray standards. You may have to wait a little while for BD-Live and onboard DTS-HD decoding, but they should come soon. It's worth noting that The PlayStation 3 offers more functionality right now for the same price; but, if you'd rather not go with a gaming console, the BD-P1500 is a solid choice.

Additional Resources
• Read more Blu-ray reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.

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