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Samsung BD-F7500 3D Ultra HD Smart Blu-Ray & DVD Player Review

Samsung's 2013 flagship Blu-ray player comes under scrutiny

by hodg100
Home AV Review

10

Highly Recommended
Samsung BD-F7500 3D Ultra HD Smart Blu-Ray & DVD Player Review
SRP: £249.00

Introduction

Samsung has long been capable of producing fine Blu-ray players that have provided superb high definition images in both two and three dimensions, whilst their scaling of standard definition DVD’s has always been excellent. In fact Samsung certainly has some clever engineers in its midsts as their video processing, in general, is amongst the best. Not only do Samsung players tend to get the basics right, the high-end machines have been at the vanguard of Smart boxes, providing supplemental apps and services to those TVs not naturally blessed. The Samsung BD-F7500, of course, is packed with a ton of cool features and also – semi-interestingly – the ability to scale to Ultra HD (4K) resolution. We say ‘semi-interesting’ as the fact of the matter is, there are currently precious few 4K displays out there and those that are will perform their own scaling. So, it’s a bit of a headline grabber really but we can’t blame them for that and as long as it can perform its core competencies with the necessary execution, we’ll be happy. So are we?

Styling/Build/Connectivity

The BD-F7500 is certainly blessed with distinctive looks. At its heart, it’s still another black box but it’s been brushed with the beauty stick thanks to its silver wrapping which encases about two-thirds of its hull. This is obviously a player for those that like to get 'em out so if you’re planning on stowing your next player away in the AV cabinet, out of view, you could probably look at something a touch more modest. It’s quite a lightweight little number but that’s not to say the F7500 hasn’t been put together well, as it’s a very noise-free spinner; always a major plus for those quieter scenes.

The front panel keeps it very simple with just a Vacuum Florescent Display (VFD) and the Samsung logo on show. We’re pleased to see Samsung eschew a slot loading mechanism for the F7500 and discs are inserted in to a tray which sits hidden behind a concealing flap; said tray pops out very speedily to say hello and with equal snappiness on the way back in. Aside from that, the only other thing to mention are four, touch-sensitive controls for Stop, Play&Pause, Eject and Power. Samsung has managed to keep it simple yet still managed to inject a touch of chic, so nice job here.

Samsung BD-F7500

Connectivity options are plentiful and those with a penchant for 3D visuals, along with high def audio, will be pleased to see the inclusion of a secondary HDMI port to carry audio streams to non-3D friendly AV Receivers. Audiophiles may similarly rejoice with the inclusion of 7.1 analogue audio outs for the same reason, or just that they prefer it in their system to the digital alternative. We have to admit the 7.1 audio connections took us by surprise – must have missed it when reading the specs. There’s also a slightly less grandiose S/PDIF optical audio port but there are no other video connections, bar HDMI, and that’s fair enough – it is 2013, you know? The BD-F7500 is naturally Wi-Fi ready straight from the tin and there’s a wired LAN port, too, if that doesn’t tickle your fancy.

Samsung BD-F7500

The supplied remote control is just about the perfect size for a disc player – not too big that it takes up too much room on the arm of the chair and not so small that the controls are fiddly to get at, nor that it will easily slip down the sides of said recliner. There’s an indent to the rear so that it sits comfortably on the index finger and a dedicated button to take you in to the Samsung Smart Hub. The main transport controls are glow-in-the dark, which helps for obvious reasons. It's a nice little remote, nothing special but what do you want?

Menus and SetUp

Samsung’s new ‘meet’n’greet’ Home Screen is excellent – perfectly tailored for the mobile generation with a metroesque interface which has tiles for Movies and TV Shows; Apps; Photos, Videos & Music and Settings. There’s also some smaller tiles for shortcuts to the Web Browser, Vimeo, BBC iPlayer and KNOWHOW Movies – which we’ll admit was a new one on us but it’s a Netflix service, only it’s pay per view, and created by the owners of the DSG retail group.

We’ll look at the more feature-related stuff below and just take you on a whistle stop tour of the Settings Menu here. Under Settings are 6 further submenus, Display, Audio, Network, Smart Features, System and Support. The Display Menu has the new 4K Output option with choices of Auto or Off – it’s not going to send a 4K signal to your 1080p TV even if on Auto but switch it off if it really worries you. For readers with 4K displays – both of you – please experiment to see what works best with yours, for Blu-ray, and report back in the feedback thread. Thank you.

Samsung BD-F7500

More conventionally, there’s some settings for all traditional high definition TVs and in the Display settings sub-menu where there are options for 3D, TV Aspect, BD Wise, Resolution, Movie Frame (24fps) and a very interesting DVD 24fps Conversion Option so the F7500 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 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 for DVD’s.

Samsung BD-F7500

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), 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.

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.

Samsung BD-F7500

Not that Samsung is currently bereft of VoD providers for the Smart Hub; on the F7500 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 and Samsung promises that all free to air based catch-up services will be available for the F7500 by the end of 2013; so that means 4OD, ITV Player and 5 on Demand should also be added. 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-F7500

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 very slow but OK for very light use and the ability to mirror the TV screen and instantly share photos and video between the F7500 and a Samsung Galaxy S3 (and of course soon S4) but since we’re not the owners of one, we didn’t get to try it out. The Samsung F7500 is a very smart little box indeed.

Samsung BD-F7500

3D Playback

As we have mentioned in previous Blu-ray player reviews, any 3D Blu-ray player should be able to output the 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-F7500 was excellent with the content playing flawlessly on a number of different 3D displays. We had it matched with Samsung’s own F7000 3D LED (review coming soon) and that utterly spiffing Panasonic VT65. We threw in our new copy of The Hobbit and it was clear from the outset that the F7500 was up to the challenges of delivering all that depth on offer. The same could be said for Dredd, which also uses a lot of negative parallax but just to check the F7500 was capable of delivering pop out of the screen moments, we used some of underwater footage; sure enough we soon felt like we were surrounded by marine creatures and ducking to avoid oncoming mackerel. One point to be careful of is the screen size setting in the 3D menu, make sure you have it set appropriately else the dimensionality looks all wrong.

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 F7500 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 F7500 from The Hobbit to Boardwalk Empire through animations such as Rise of the Guardians and Tinkerbell – it is the Easter holidays at the moment!

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 F7500 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-F7500M all three bars were smooth with no jaggies. The F7500 also had no problems with the video resolution loss test, correctly processing the moving portion of the image and leaving the background free of artefacts. The BD-D8500M 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-F7500M benefits from Samsung's excellent video processing when dealing with DVD content. It was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE 133 resolution test for, 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 F7500 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 line.

The BD-F7500 performance was equally impressive with the film detail test, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. In the cadence tests the BD-F7500 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 a look.

Disc Loading Times

The Samsung BD-F7500 is an incredibly fast player. With quick start enabled in the options menu, it was booted up in less than a second and we could be at Blu-ray menus in under 15, which is as fast, if not faster, than anything we’ve seen before. The loading of DVDs was performed in similarly brisk fashion.

Video Review



Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Doesn't impinge on Blu-ray signals
  • Very fast to load
  • Nice and quiet
  • Distinctive design
  • Wi-Fi built in
  • Loads of smart features
  • 7.1 analogue audio outputs
  • Dual HDMI
  • Very reasonably priced
  • Inverse telecine feature

The Bad

  • A bit lightweight in construction

Samsung BD-F7500 3D Ultra HD Smart Blu-Ray & DVD Player Review

As one would expect from a Samsung product atop of its particular tree, the BD-F7500 is snazzily designed with a sliver wrapping enveloping the black casing. It’s definitely one to have on show, no sense in hiding it away in the cabinet or rack. Connectivity options are generous although those without HDMI inputs need to look elsewhere. The F7500 features two HDMI outs, useful if you’re receiver doesn’t support 3D signals. Lovers of analogue audio will also be pleased to see dedicated 7.1outputs.

Samsung’s new tiled Home Screen is excellent and in fact the whole feature set will take some beating in the Blu-ray sector. There’s more VoD services than you could ever possibly need, some of which tie-in with Samsung’s new S Recommendation feature which suggests further viewing based on your tastes. There’s also an excellent media player, Wi-Fi direct, mirroring (if you own a Galaxy S3/4) and a Web Browser, although the latter is rather slow and clunky.

The BD-F7500 fulfils its primary purpose of playing back both 2D and 3D Blu-rays with effortless ease and no signs of background noise reduction or unwanted manipulation of the signal. For the lucky few out there with Ultra HD displays, the F7500 will even scale your Blu-ray’s to match the higher resolution but we think that’s more of a headline grabber than truly useful feature. That’s not the only relatively unusual trick up the F7500’s sleeve, either, as it’s capable of reconstructing the original frame rate of film from NTSC DVD’s and seems to do so well. As well as this admirable feature, the F7500 also possesses excellent video processing that will ensure almost anything you throw at it will be given loving treatment.

The Samsung BD-F7500 is pretty much all you could want from a modern day disc-spinner. It’s very smart and chic, plays almost any media you’re likely to own and does so with a high degree of finesse. It also costs a lot less than one might think, considering all it does. Highly Recommended.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
9

Features

.
9

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Value For Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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