We scored the BD8900 very highly in terms of its picture processing, Blu-ray, 3D and DVD playback. The Smart features were also very impressive and video file support was also decent so the 6900 should do similarly well in its core areas, but we won’t be taking anything for granted and we will be subjecting the unit to our usual array of testing, as you never know. There’s still plenty on offer with the Samsung BD-D6900 so let’s engage the remote control and see how it does.
To the rear of the D6900 is a single HDMI output; antennae connections – both in and out; a LAN port; Digital Audio Out (SPDIF) plus legacy RCA and Component connections. As per the AACS Adopter Agreement, the component connection is hobbled for Blu-ray disc in only allowing an SD (576i) signal through it, and you wouldn’t want that! It’s a fairly standard set of connections (bar the aerial sockets) for a Blu-ray player.
General build quality is probably what we’d describe as average and the plastic casing is of a fairly thin grade but the supplied remote control is of a reasonable standard, with typical Samsung layout and feel. Haters of material containing ‘black bars’, typically 2.35:1/2:40:1 shot film, may delight in the inclusion of the ‘Full Screen’ button that is designed specifically to eliminate them. We, of course, would never advise its deployment as it ruins pixel mapping but others differ. Most of the supplementary buttons, when compared to a typical Samsung TV remote, are at the bottom including the 2D>3D, Smart HUB and Record buttons but, otherwise, the majority of operations will be performed, comfortably, toward the centre.
Menus and Set Up
Much as the D8900 that went before, the D6900 set up process was a simple operation and we were soon ready to explore the features on offer. Menus were, as expected, comprehensive but that’s to be expected with a multi-faceted device. The structure consists of 5 main areas: Watch TV, Internet, My Devices, My Contents and Watch TV, Internet, My Devices, My Contents and Settingswith each containing a number of options and sub-menus.
The Settings Menu contains an absolute host of options, split in to 9 sub-menus, and we’ll go over the most important of these here. First of all we have the Display settings sub-menu where there are options for 3D Settings, TV Aspect, Smart Hub Screen Size, BD Wise, Resolution, HDMI Colour Format, Movie Frame (24FS), HDMI Deep Colour, Still Mode and Progressive Mode. We will look at what effect some of those do late rin the review but, as a guideline, we’d advise switching off Deep Colour – unless playing back AVC HD material from a video camera; leaving Movie Frame (24FS) at Auto for smooth Blu-ray playback and the same for Progressive mode to ensure non 24p film cadence detection is operative.
Next we come to the Audio sub-menu containing settings for Digital Output from a choice of PCM, Bitstream (unprocessed), Bitstream (Re-encoded DTS), Bitstream (re-encoded Dolby D). We’ll leave owners to experiment as to what works best in their systems but it’s always good to have the re-encode options. There’s also a Dynamic Range Control, Downmixing Mode (Normal Stereo or Surround Compatible); DTS Neo:6 Mode (Off/Cinema/Music) and Audio Sync to fix any lip synch/lag issues with the display.
Following on from Audio there’s Channel, Network, System, Language and Support- which all contain fairly self-explanatory functions – and then we come to the General area with some Energy Saving and Display Light controls as well as the option for allowing a smartphone/tablet to act as a remote control, or not. Finally, for the Settings menu, we have the Support area that allows for online software updates and contains contact details for Samsung, in the event of difficulties with the product.
The other 4 main areas of the Menu - Internet, My Contents, My Devices and Watch TV - aren’t nearly so daunting as the Settings menu and actually contain a little duplication of one another, here and there, but they never really get confusing. The Internet tab is just an aka for the Smart Hub, more on which we’ll look at later. My Contents provides access to media stored on either connected USB storage, or from a media server on your network and is split in to Recorded TV, Videos, Photos and Music categories. Moving to Watch TV brings us access to the Guide (EPG); Schedule Manager – for setting watch and recording timers; Channel List (like a mini EPG) and Channel Manager, where unwanted dross can be shaved from your tuner. Finally, My Devices gives a drop down list of connected media servers or USB devices as well as the ability to switch over to the optical drive. You can just as easily access all of these from the My Contents tab but we have no objections to the duplication.
We like the Samsung EPG (Electronic Program Guide) with its 6 channel/2 hour view and there’s a video window top left From the EPG we can schedule recordings, set watch timers and sort by Channel Mode (All, Radio, TV or Data).
The Tools Button on the remote control brings up a few further options, notably one that affects picture quality, Picture Settings, housing four viewing modes - Normal/Movie/Dynamic/User . With User selected further ‘Advanced Settings’ are enabled – Sharpness, Noise Reduction, Contrast, Brightness, Colour and Tint. We’ll check over what these do in the Picture Quality sections.
Where we treated the Personal Video Recorder (PVR) abilities of the 8900 as a mainstay of the unit, we’d consider the 6900’s as an optional extra, as there’s no internal hard drive on which to record programming from the internal Freeview HD tuner. We complained that the PVR side of things seemed bolted on to the 8900, but we’ve no such gripe here as it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. To use the PVR functions of the D6900, a USB memory device needs to be connected and then formatted in the Device Management section of the System menu. To just use the time shift capabilities, i.e. to pause, rewind or fast forward ‘live’ TV, owners will only need 375MB of available space but we’d, obviously, recommend something much larger if you plan on doing any recording. Scheduling a program to record is a synch from the EPG but can also be done in the Schedule Manager in the Watch TV Menu
There’s only one tuner on-board so there’s no possibility of ‘watch one/record another’ through the box although, of course, one could just switch to the internal tuner of the display. It’s also possible to view content from media servers or from the optical drive (Blu-ray/DVD) whilst a recording is in progress. Unfortunately the limitation of only being able to ‘chase play’ from the EPG (meaning you have to rewind back through the action) is present here, too, and it’s something we’d like Samsung to address as it should surely be possible to implement better. As with the 8900, Smart Hub features can’t be accessed at the same time as recording but, overall, we’re far more forgiving of the limitations of the 6900 as a PVR as it’s a supplemental – rather than core – feature.
Samsung’s Smart Hub provides the usual cornucopia of apps and widgets, with the video on demand/catch up services from the likes of iPlayer, YouTube and Vimeo being our favourites. There are also decent Twitter and Facebook widgets, too, but you’ll need to create an account with Samsung Smart Hub services to use them. Apps are downloaded from the Samsung App Store and there appears to be plenty of internal memory to store them on, though we couldn’t find any details on just how much there is. There’s quite a nice search and recommendation engine built in to the Smart Hub, in ‘Your Video’ but it’s limited to activity on the Smart Hub only and doesn’t include anything from your actions on the digital tuner, which is a shame. We like the clean interface of the hub and also the fact it can be edited to allow the likes of parental locking and folder creation although it’s a shame the whole integration isn’t quite up to that found in the Samsung TVs; but it’s still very good!
For a unit that can be acquired for less that £200, we’re very impressed with all that the Samsung BD-D6900 crams in, feature wise, and we’ve not even mentioned HDMI CEC or 2D to 3D conversion over even broadcast material. There we just did.
Disc Load Times
- Excellent disc playback
- Quality - 3D/HD/SD
- Very good scaling and deinterlacing qualities
- Smart Hub
- Optional PVR functions
- Freeview HD tuner
- Extensive video file playback - especially via USB
- Well presented GUIs
- Build quality isn't the greatest
- Smart Hub inaccessible during recording
Samsung BD-D6900 3D Blu-ray Player Review
We weren’t overly enamoured by the looks or build of the BD-D6900 but it is small, light and easy to squeeze in to tight spaces. The remote control gets the job done, without too much fuss, but it could perhaps have benefited from being a little larger to enable some of the ‘feature’ buttons to be placed higher up. Connectivity was adequate, although those with 3D displays but incompatible receivers may want to seek out a box with dual HDMI output.
Whilst the Menus are pretty extensive, and items sometimes cross over, we never found them too difficult to navigate. We liked the general presentation of the GUI and, as ever, Samsung’s EPG is clear and easy to read. We would advise any owners that have calibrated displays to use the TOOLS button on the remote to navigate to the Picture Modes to ensure ‘User’ is selected, meaning the picture will be left, all but, untouched.
As with the D8900, that we covered recently, the all round abilities of the D6900 as a disc spinner make it a worthy consideration. From SD to 3D, through HD, we were left very impressed by the general standards of video processing displayed. Deinterlacing and cadence detection duties were handled with aplomb, whilst High Def and 3D content was displayed full resolution, free from underhand processing.
We think Samsung have a little winner on their hands here, especially if you have catch a touch of upgraditis this Christmas.
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