Samsung BD-F6500 3D Smart Blu-Ray & DVD Player Review

Samsung brings the value with its smart little spinner

by hodg100
Home AV Review

31

Best Buy
Samsung BD-F6500 3D Smart Blu-Ray & DVD Player Review
SRP: £129.99
Samsung’s top-of-the-range Blu-ray player – the F7500 - was just about all you could want from a spinner – fast, quiet, efficient and bundled with lots of interesting apps. The inclusion of 4K scaling was clearly just a headline grabber, however, and so its omission from the BD-F6500, which we have here, is not likely to be missed. More notably the F6500 lacks analogue audio outs and a secondary HDMI output but since most are unlikely to need those either, the step-down model might just prove a wiser investment; if it can match the 7500’s performance, that is. A quick internet search, just prior to publishing, reveals the BD-F6500 is currently hovering around the £110 mark, which is certainly very reasonable for such a comprehensive package. Time to find out just how reasonable.

Styling/Build/Connectivity

Samsung’s BD-F6500 is saved from design anonymity by a rounded right-front corner and a distinctive large control ‘dial’ that sits on its top with touch-sensitive buttons for the basic controls. The visual display, also positioned to the right, is strikingly large and disappointingly there’s no option to dim, or switch it off, as billed in the menu system. Perhaps they forgot to add it? Other than that, it’s a black box in a standard plastic finish. The disc loader, which is immediately to the left of the display uses a tray mechanism which is reasonably quiet in operation, although if you sit close there’s a chance you’ll hear the disc heads seeking in quieter scenes.

Samsung BD-F6500M

Connectivity options are sparse but probably sufficient for most. There’s a solo HDMI output and digital audio connection plus wired and wireless options for networking and a USB slot concealed behind a flap at the front of the machine for media playback watch. And that’s it.

Samsung BD-F6500M

The supplied remote control is just about the perfect size for a disc player - not too big/not too fiddly - and there’s a small indent on the battery cover designed to take the index finger for ergonomic operation. There’s a dedicated button to take you in to the Samsung Smart Hub and the main transport controls are glow-in-the dark, for the benefit of late night movie watchers.

Menus and SetUp

Samsung’s new Home Screen is very Metro-like with tiles for Movies and TV Shows; Apps; Photos, Videos & Music and Settings. There’s also some smaller tiles for shortcuts to the Web Browser, ITV Player, BBC iPlayer and KNOWHOW Movies – an on-Demand video service created by the owners of the DSG retail group but we’ll look at the feature-related content in more detail below.

Samsung BD-F6500M

The Settings Menu contains 6 further submenus - Display, Audio, Network, Smart Features, System and Support. The Display settings sub-menu has options for 3D, TV Aspect, BD Wise, Resolution, Movie Frame (24fps) and an interesting DVD 24fps Conversion Option so the F6500 looks like its capable of inverse telecine, which reconstructs the DVD frame rate back in to its original 24 frames per second format. This will only work with NTSC DVD’s, not the PAL versions made for the UK but it’s a promising addition for movie buffs. There’s additional settings for the Smart Hub Screen Size, HDMI Colour Format, HDMI Deep Colour and Progressive Mode. We will look at what effect some of those do later in 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 for DVD’s.

Samsung BD-F6500M

Next we come to the Audio sub-menu which contains settings for Digital Output from a choice of PCM, Bitstream (unprocessed), Bitstream (Re-encoded DTS) and Bitstream (re-encoded Dolby Digital). 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) and DTS Neo:6 Mode (Off/Cinema/Music).

Features

Starting, as you should, from the Home Screen and, sitting to the top left of the interface, is the Movies & TV Show portal. Samsung has partnered with certain VoD service providers to include a recommendation engine style of interface that will track your viewing habits, through the portal, and then suggest further viewing material based thereon. The service requires that you have a Samsung.com account (easy enough to sign up). The interface is clean and allows for searching of crew and cast members, of a given item, as well as bringing up related content for you to browse. The new S Recommendation isn’t universal to all the VoD services and doesn’t yet seem to integrate Netflix but it’s a promising start. Samsung is also now one of the providers, allowing you to purchase movies for download. Going forwards we can only imagine Samsung will try and capitalise on their presence in so many living rooms by acquiring more content and partners.

Not that Samsung is currently bereft of VoD providers for the Smart Hub; on the F6500 the slimmed down version of what we see on the Samsung TVs is known as Apps but it amounts to much the same thing. Pre-loaded on the Apps screen we have the likes of BBC iPlayer (of course), Netflix, LOVEFiLM and blinkbox. Samsung is also the first CE manufacturer to have all four free to air based catch-up services available on its devices so that means 4OD, ITV Player and 5 on Demand join the iPlayer amongst the line-up. As well as the pre-installed apps, there are also plenty to choose from through the Samsung Apps store – accessed from top left of the Apps Page.

Samsung BD-F6500M
Samsung BD-F6500M

The Photos, Video & Music portal is basically the media player which obviously plays very nicely with Samsung’s own AllShare PC software but will happily talk to other media servers. The Media Player seems very robust and handles all the usual suspects, including MKVs but we did get a bit too much buffering when streaming HD video over a wireless connection. Other notable features include a Web Browser which is OK for very light use and the ability to mirror the TV screen and instantly share photos and video between the F5500 and a Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 but since we’re not the owners of either, we didn’t get to try it out.

3D Playback

Although we see the odd hiccup, almost all 3D Blu-ray player we test are able to output the 3D content on the discs equally as well over HDMI because it is a digital signal. It should therefore come as no surprise to discover that the overall 3D performance of the BD-F6500 was excellent with the content playing flawlessly on a couple of different 3D displays. We had hooked up to a currently resident Panasonic VT65 for our inaugural in-home 3D screening of Life of Pi and it would be fair to say that neither let the side down as it has now become one of our reference 3D discs. We then played the The Hobbit via Samsung’s own F8500 plasma, with the F6500 matching the TVs brilliance with 3D, delivering plenty of depth whilst introducing no artefacts or playback hiccups along the way.

1080p Playback

As with the 3D performance, the digital nature of the content means that any Blu-ray player capable of outputting 1080p24 should be identical to any other when using the HDMI output. Provided one doesn’t mess with the Picture Mode options accessed from the Tools button on the remote, the F6500 will faithfully reproduce all your Blu-ray discs in pristine fashion, with no unwanted effects on the colour or luminance channels nor any sneaky noise/film grain reduction – something Samsung products have been known to do in the past. The images produced were excellent and not subject to any machine induced judder with all the discs we put in to the F6500 from the 2D version of Life of Pi to Wreck it Ralph, which is on its fourth play-through!

1080i Playback

When it comes to 1080i content the opportunity for the player itself to add value is far greater than it is with 1080p content. The ability of the player to detect film content inside the interlaced signal and correctly deinterlace it without introducing artefacts is dependent on the quality of the processing in the player itself. The F6500 uses Samsung's proprietary video processing which is exceptionally good and the player passed every single cadence test on both our Spear & Munsil and HQV Blu-ray discs. We also used the HQV Blu-ray disc to check the quality of the video deinterlacing. This disc has a jaggies pattern that uses three rotating bars and with the BD-F6500M all three bars were smooth with no jaggies. The BD-F6500 was also able to handle discs with film content that is encoded at 1080i/50Hz without any problems.

Standard Definition

As with the 1080i content the BD-F6500 benefits from Samsung's excellent video processing when dealing with DVD content. It was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE 133 resolution test, correctly scaling the full 576i/50Hz signal without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent - the F6500 reproduced the rotating line without producing any jaggies, even at the most extreme angles. In the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the performance remained superb with all three moving lines being reproduced correctly, even on the bottom one. In the cadence tests the BD-F6500 also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European). The inverse telecine feature also works well and for those with large collections of NTSC discs, it really does help restore the look of film – if you haven’t double dipped with the Blu-ray version, it’s well worth checking out. We have to admit that our DVD watching is becoming increasingly rare but it’s good to know the F6500 won’t let you down when called upon for a spot of video nostalgia.

Disc Loading Times

Although the F6500 shares the same dual core processing as the flagship F7500 it’s not quite as fast as it when it comes to loading up Blu-ray discs – although it’s no slouch by any means. The average disc was ready to play within about 30 seconds and those with less content nearer 20. DVD’s loaded a little faster with most ready to play in around 15 seconds.

Energy Consumption

  • Standby: 0W
  • Standby with QuickStart enabled: 2.3W
  • Idle: 5.5W
  • Playing a disc: 6.3W

Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Perfect 2D and 3D Blu-ray playback
  • Excellent scaling of DVDs
  • All free-to-air catchup services present
  • Lots of apps
  • Inverse telecine processing
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Price is excellent

The Bad

  • Limited connections
  • Build quality could be better
  • Disc mechanism sometimes audible
  • Display can't be dimmed

Samsung BD-F6500 3D Smart Blu-Ray & DVD Player Review

We don't expect a great deal of design finesse when it comes to Blu-ray players but at least Samsung has made some sort of effort by rounding one of the F6500's corners and making the visual display unusually big and bold. We'd have preferred it had there been an option to dim said display but since it spent most of its time hidden away in the cabinet, it didn't really bother us. Some might find the lack of connectivity options restrictive but a single HDMI and digital audio connection will be sufficient for most. There's also choices of wired and wireless for your network connection.

We like Samsung's new approach for their Home Screen and the whole feature set will take some beating in the Blu-ray market with plenty of VoD services and lots more besides. The web browser isn't up to much and screen mirroring is restricted to Galaxy S devices but there’s also an excellent media player, Wi-Fi direct and Samsung's S-Recommendation feature to bring more cheer.

The BD-F6500M is a highly capable disc player, whether that's with 2D or 3D Blu-ray or even if you fancy breathing a bit of new life back into your DVD collection, as it possesses all-round excellent video processing. The F6500 also has a fancy trick up its sleeve for owners of NTSC DVD's as it’s capable of reconstructing the original frame rate of film from them. Our only real operational quibble was in that the disc mechanism was a little bit noisy and could sometimes be heard during playback. All-in-all, however, there is almost nothing to grumble about, especially when entry price is considered.

What's not to like? For a sum not far north of one hundred pounds, the BD-6500M will give you nigh on universal playback of your physical and digital media catalogue and a bounty of desirable features, to boot. It's not the fastest or the quietest but does represent outstanding value. Best Buy.

Best Buy

Scores

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Features

.
9

Ease Of Use

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Value For Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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