- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 26 December 2011
The Samsung BD-D6500 Blu-ray Player In Use
Now that the BD-D6500 was hooked up and all of my online accounts were setup, it was time to see it in use. I managed to grab an early copy of the Toy Story 3D box set for review so that gave me some great testing material. While all the films loaded and played back in 3D correctly, they also all had a hiccup where at certain points they would go back to the start of the chapter you were in. It seemed to be random, and I could advance to the next chapter fine, but I tested it in another player and didn’t see the issue. Since these movies were not available to the general public yet, it could be that Samsung was working on a firmware update that will resolve the issue that would be completed before their street date. This just seems to be one of the things that can happen on Blu-ray titles and players, and it’s hard to correctly place blame for it.
I tried many other titles that I usually use for testing (The Dark Knight, The Lion King, The Fifth Element) and none of them exhibited the skipping issue that Toy Story 3D did, so I’m going to assume that it’s just a firmware fix due to something new being done by Pixar on those titles and Samsung will fix it. I’ll ask for a follow-up from them and update as I hear anything.
Beyond Blu-ray, the main thing I wanted to try out was the SmartHub feature on the Samsung. As I saw the demo at CEDIA, the main benefit to me was being able to use the Search function to search across all the various streaming services to find the content that I wanted. If my wife wants to see Glee, she doesn’t want to have to know if it’s on Hulu Plus, or Netflix, or Vudu, she just wants to search for Glee and start watching it. You can also setup different accounts on the SmartHub so recommendations for my wife will be kept separate from recommendations for me (are you listening Netflix?).
The first title I went to search for was Mad Men. I have the whole series on Blu-ray, but sometimes I just want to be able to start up an episode for a little bit and then be able to easily come back to it, without needing to dig out the physical media. I went to search for this and it came back letting me know that I could watch episodes on Vudu for just $2 each, and in HD. However, I knew that it had just been added to Netflix for streaming so I was a bit confused and then went to search it out. Sure enough, it was available in Netflix for Instant Streaming, but the Search feature in SmartHub didn’t find that. A little bit annoying to say the least since I would much rather watch for free than pay per episode.
I had also been trying to finally catch up on the excellent series Friday Night Lights, which had just finished its run on NBC. Going to search for this let me know that, once again, I could watch the most recent season on Vudu, but that it was going to be “Coming Soon” to Hulu Plus. Of course, when I fired up Hulu Plus I found that all of the episodes for Friday Night Lights were already available, so I could watch them for free again. Wondering about this I contacted Samsung and was informed that the Search feature does not search against Hulu Plus or Netflix yet. Well, that was really a disappointment to me as that negated a lot of the functionality that I was after.
I ran into another issue later in my testing as when I logged in on October 24th, the “New For You” section let me know that I could now rent Cars 2 from Vudu. I had already preordered the Blu-ray for my son, as he’s a huge Cars fan, but being able to stream it a week before that came out would be a good test of the Samsung, and a treat for him. I followed the Watch Now links to see what a rental would cost me, only to find that Vudu didn’t have it available until the release day the next week! It’s good that my son wasn’t around during this episode or he would have probably thrown a huge fit after being denied Cars 2 at that point. I checked a couple of days later and noticed that Cars 2 was no longer in the “New For You” section, but I’m not sure if this was a one time issue, or an ongoing problem in classifying titles.
There were a couple more issues that I had with the SmartHub feature. It often required updates to the applications, so I would launch it, then have 3-5 minutes to spare while it downloaded, installed, and updated the content. Since this happened 2-3 times in the 3 weeks I used the Samsung, I imagine these updates are frequent at this point, and I have no idea if they will slow down or continue to be an interruption on the experience. The Exit key also functioned differently in the applications. On some it would return you back to the SmartHub screen, and on some it took you to the Main Menu screen of the Samsung. The lack of consistent behavior is also something that they should find in their testing, as it leads to consumer confusion.
Though it sounds like I’m leveling a lot of complaints at the Samsung, compared to other players it has a very large selection of online content, all of which worked well in my testing, and it had very nice Blu-ray playback and colorspace support compared to most players. The issues I had are with the SmartHub feature, which shows good promise, but really needs another revision to be as useful as I would like it to be. Overall in use the Samsung did quite well.