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Samsung BD-C8500 / BD-C8500M - (quite) a few questions

vashek

Standard Member
Hi all,
I'm considering buying the Samsung BD-C8500 and I have a few questions to which I haven't been able to find clear answers.

1) What's the difference between BD-C8500 and BD-C8500M?

2) Can it play a DVD/BluRay while recording to HDD or not? I've seen reviews that say either, so I don't know what the truth is...

3) Many reviews say something like "it only has one tuner so you cannot record something and watch something else". Am I missing something? Doesn't everyone have a DVB-T tuner in their TV these days, thus being able to watch whatever channel they want, irrespective of what the PVR is doing?

4) Is "Freeview" the UK marketing name for the DVB-T standard? I.e., is it the same or is there some difference?

5) Can you play AVIs with SRT subtitles? And if yes, has anyone tried east-european character sets - do they work? Is the font and encoding supported? (I am Czech, we use all kinds of weird accents on our letters.)

6) Is there any advantage if your TV is also from Samsung? I have a LE37A656. I seem to remember they advertised some common remotes for all Samsung devices or whatever.

7) Judging by the documentation, it seems the device runs Linux inside it. Is it hacker-friendly? Can you get root? Is there a modding community somewhere?

8) And finally: apparently, the device isn't supposed to let you copy recorded video from the internal HDD. Is that true? Has anyone tried to find a way, e.g. take out the HDD, or get root and export the filesystem over the network (see previous question)? Is there any word from Samsung whether they intend to add the function via a firmware update?
(I hope I am not breaching any rules here. I believe recording from TV and transferring to other media for your own use is still legal, at least where I live.)

9) (added after posting) I understand you can rip your audio CDs to the HDD, add some MP3s from a USB flash drive, and then play music from the HDD. True? Is it easy to play the library without having the TV on, i.e., can you use it as a jukebox without consuming 200 watts of power or however much the LCD takes? Can you, for example, set it to play a random selection of tunes from a sub-tree of folders?

Thanks for any help! Cheers,
Vashek
 
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PatientLearner

Standard Member
Hi,

As someone who was considering the BD-C8500 I had many of the same questions... in the end I worked out the answers to many by simply downloading the user manual for the 8500 off Samsung's website. But having taken the plunge and bought an 8500 hopefully I'll be able to give you some answers. If it helps - I think the 8500 is GREAT, despite some of the criticism it has come in for. It is true it doesn't do everything (eg. single tuner, not dual), but it DOES do an awful lot in one box that others don't (combined HD recording with blu-ray, internet, wifi, USB media player etc).

So.... to your questions...

Hi all,
I'm considering buying the Samsung BD-C8500 and I have a few questions to which I haven't been able to find clear answers.

1) What's the difference between BD-C8500 and BD-C8500M?

I'm not entirely sure... exact model names probably vary depending on country. The UK model's full model name is the BD-C8500M.

2) Can it play a DVD/BluRay while recording to HDD or not? I've seen reviews that say either, so I don't know what the truth is...

YES it can. Some comments on the web have presented some confusion about this. But yes it can.

But let me explain. If you are playing a DVD/Blu-ray and a scheduled recording is about to start then a message appears warning you that recording will start in 5 minutes. You can accept that or cancel it. Assuming you accept it, when the 5 minutes are up the blu-ray playing will stop and the unit switches to recording. However, you simply press the Menu button again, then another button (red, device?) to switch from HDD back to blu-ray, and the blu-ray can then be played again. So, that's the only real 'problem'... the interruption when a recording starts. Of course if a recording has already started you can simply pop your disc in the drive and the disc will then just start playing.

One other caveat regards 2.0 or 1.0 'features' of blu-ray playback. 2.0 allows 'BD Live' which means the disc can access certain things on the internet as 'extra features' during playback. When recording TV at the same time as blu-ray playback you can't do that - but you can still play the disc at 1.0 level - ie. normal disc playback. It simply means it won't do the extra internet BD-Live stuff if also recording.


3) Many reviews say something like "it only has one tuner so you cannot record something and watch something else". Am I missing something? Doesn't everyone have a DVB-T tuner in their TV these days, thus being able to watch whatever channel they want, irrespective of what the PVR is doing?

You're right - most TVs have a tuner, so you can simply watch TV live on the TV whilst the recorder records. For many folk (myself included) that is fine.

The criticism comes from those who have got used to the extra functionality provided by Dual-Tuner devices such as the Humax PVRs. These have two tuners in them which allows them to actually record two channels at the same time, or, record a channel and allow you to watch a channel via the PVR at the same time. Personally I very RARELY have occassion to need to record two channels at once, but I can understand that some people might. It is a case of 'not missing what you've never had'. If you've had it, however, I can understand how you would get used to it, and not want 'to go back'.

Something else, however, which I feel is more of a failing than the dual-tuner aspect is that the 8500 can't play back a recording off its hard drive at the same time as recording a programme. Really this is just a software failing in the 8500 and could be remedied (I would have thought) by Samsung via a Firmware update - but for now that is the restriction. Again, other boxes (Humax HDR-FOX-T2 for example) will record up to 2 programmes at once AND allow playback of a 3rd which has already been recorded.

So there's the comparison. Of course boxes like the Humax lack the built-in blu-ray drive, the WIFI, the more extensive Video file support of the 8500, and the [email protected] support - so it's all a matter of making a choice!


4) Is "Freeview" the UK marketing name for the DVB-T standard? I.e., is it the same or is there some difference?

Yes, pretty much so. The Samsung receives, and records, Freeview and Freeview HD.

The reason Samsung doesn't put the Freeview logo on the box though is because the recording features of the 8500 don't support the full Freeview+ or Freeview+HD standard.

Freeview+/HD are standards that expect compliant PVRs to support, for example:
Live TV Pause/Rewind
Scheduled Recording via EPG
Schedule Changes Handling (ie. record at actual transmitted start time, not the time simply listed in the EPG)
Series link recording
Etc.

The Samsung does 'some' of this, but not all, hence the lack of the Freeview logo on the box. It can pause and rewind live TV. Good. It can schedule recordings via the EPG. Good. But it doesn't follow schedule changes... so if you use the EPG to set a recording, it will follow the EPG timing - ie. recording from 10am to 11am. If the programme goes out late... eg. 10:02am, you may then lose the last couple of minutes. (You can work around this by setting the recording time via the Channel Manager and adding padding, eg. record from 9:58 until 11:02.... but it isn't as neat is it?). Also, the 8500 doesn't have 'proper' series linking to record a whole series. It CAN however be set to record every day at a certain time, or every week, or Mon-Fri etc.... so that is 'nearly' there. :)

Again, it isn't perfect... but it does work well enough, and personally I don't find these short-comings to be a huge deal. At the end of the day it can record what I want, and does a great job in terms of actual picture quality/sound quality etc.

ALSO... I have seen NONE of the sound dropout or volume issues which users of other HD PVRs have complained about these past months. The Samsung just records, and gets it right. The recordings are pristine. Perfect picture quality and sound. AND SD recordings are SUPERBLY upscaled. Really sharp image (I understand the Humax is NOT so good at upscaled SD.... and since most channels are still Sd that IS a bit of an issue).

5) Can you play AVIs with SRT subtitles? And if yes, has anyone tried east-european character sets - do they work? Is the font and encoding supported? (I am Czech, we use all kinds of weird accents on our letters.)

Sorry... I have no idea on that one!

6) Is there any advantage if your TV is also from Samsung? I have a LE37A656. I seem to remember they advertised some common remotes for all Samsung devices or whatever.

Yes, you can use one remote for both. That's the main advantage.

7) Judging by the documentation, it seems the device runs Linux inside it. Is it hacker-friendly? Can you get root? Is there a modding community somewhere?

Not sure... haven't seen much info about this. Where did you discover about it being Linux BTW?

8) And finally: apparently, the device isn't supposed to let you copy recorded video from the internal HDD. Is that true? Has anyone tried to find a way, e.g. take out the HDD, or get root and export the filesystem over the network (see previous question)? Is there any word from Samsung whether they intend to add the function via a firmware update?
(I hope I am not breaching any rules here. I believe recording from TV and transferring to other media for your own use is still legal, at least where I live.)

You are right - the standard Firmware won't allow this. You can copy video/audio files from USB ON to the 8500, and back off again. You can also copy MP3 from CDs on to the 8500, and then on to USB....

But you can't copy recorded TV off the 8500 on to USB. It's a shame and I hope Samsung update the firmware to allow it (if only for SD). I expect copyright issues are the reason they chose not to allow this.... but really for SD at least that shouldn't be a factor.

I expect if you could extract the HD you COULD get the files off (if perhaps only on a Linux based setup), but I'd rather not bother with that myself!

The other option is using a USB capture device (eg. EzCap) on a PC and connecting the composite video out to record your recordings into video files on your PC. That would be SD only, and take time, but it would work, and offer a means of long term archiving.

9) (added after posting) I understand you can rip your audio CDs to the HDD, add some MP3s from a USB flash drive, and then play music from the HDD. True? Is it easy to play the library without having the TV on, i.e., can you use it as a jukebox without consuming 200 watts of power or however much the LCD takes? Can you, for example, set it to play a random selection of tunes from a sub-tree of folders?

Thanks for any help! Cheers,
Vashek
No, I think you're going to need the TV on for that. You really need to see the screen to work through the menus.

Hope my answers help. :)
 
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Gavtech

Administrator
Welcome to the forum... and many thanks for your helpful contribution.
 

Machloop

Active Member
Hi all,
I'm considering buying the Samsung BD-C8500 and I have a few questions to which I haven't been able to find clear answers.

1) What's the difference between BD-C8500 and BD-C8500M?

Vashek

On Samsungs other models this M is just to indicate Malasia as the country of manufacture. :hiya:


.
 

PatientLearner

Standard Member
On Samsungs other models this M is just to indicate Malasia as the country of manufacture. :hiya:


.
I wondered that... and as I've also seen the machine listed as BD-C8500S I wonder whether S stands for Slovenia... because THAT is where the badge on the back of my model says it was made. Although I was SURE it also said mine was the 8500M! :)
 

vashek

Standard Member
So.... to your questions...

Thanks for the time you took to write your comprehensive answers! Much appreciated.

The criticism comes from those who have got used to the extra functionality provided by Dual-Tuner devices such as the Humax PVRs. These have two tuners in them which allows them to actually record two channels at the same time, or, record a channel and allow you to watch a channel via the PVR at the same time.

I get it now. Without a second tuner in the PVR, you can watch TV while recording but you cannot pause it, rewind it, fast forward... Makes sense that one starts to take these things for granted once one gets used to them. Still, I don't think it will be a big deal for me. :)

Not sure... haven't seen much info about this. Where did you discover about it being Linux BTW?

On the Samsung support web page for the 8500, one of the documents you can download is an "Open Source Guide", which contains not only the text of the licences of the used software, but - right at the beginning, in small font - also a list of the open source software used, namely:
GPL software: Linux Kernel, Busybox, Binutils, Wireless_tools, iptables, xfsprogs, U-boot,
LGPL software: glibc, ffmpeg, libgphoto2,libusb, directfb, libmms, libiconv, sdl, smpeg, gdlib, libthai
Link here.

But you can't copy recorded TV off the 8500 on to USB.

(And neither can you download it from the device over the network, I presume.)
Well, out of all the criticism I've read and the questions I've had, this is THE major drawback for me that makes me hesitate whether to buy. Why they would choose to cripple the device like that is beyond me. After all, it's not like this would be a breakthrough new way to crack some trusted copy prevention technology... Oh, well.

(By the way, is this limitation common in the world of PVRs? I've never owned one before...)

Hope my answers help. :)

They most definitely do, thanks again!
 

PatientLearner

Standard Member
On the Samsung support web page for the 8500, one of the documents you can download is an "Open Source Guide", which contains not only the text of the licences of the used software, but - right at the beginning, in small font - also a list of the open source software used, namely:
GPL software: Linux Kernel, Busybox, Binutils, Wireless_tools, iptables, xfsprogs, U-boot,
LGPL software: glibc, ffmpeg, libgphoto2,libusb, directfb, libmms, libiconv, sdl, smpeg, gdlib, libthai
Link here.
Well spotted! Thanks for that info.

... (And neither can you download it from the device over the network, I presume.)
Well, out of all the criticism I've read and the questions I've had, this is THE major drawback for me that makes me hesitate whether to buy. Why they would choose to cripple the device like that is beyond me. After all, it's not like this would be a breakthrough new way to crack some trusted copy prevention technology... Oh, well.

(By the way, is this limitation common in the world of PVRs? I've never owned one before...)
Yes, like I said, it's a shame. And as I said, copyright issues shouldn't really come into play for SD recordings at least. It is so easy to record SD with a variety of devices, so if the 8500 allowed copying of SD files it would hardly open any 'piracy floodgates'.

A firmware update would be welcome!

However, in answer to your question - yes, I think this restriction is quite common with many PVRs. Most older PVRs didn't have USB output so that wasn't even an option. Combined DVD recorders/PVRs obviously DO allow archiving to DVD (of SD video). But even more recent PVRs will often prevent copying recorded TV to USB. I think most of the current Freeview HD boxes (Sagem, Philips, etc) won't allow it.

I HAVE read that the Humax allows for some copying of TV to external USB or the network - but I do think it applies certain restrictions. It is probably mainly SD, and I'm not sure what file format is used etc. I've read some posts in places which indicate that the recordings are in some non-standard format, so it would appear to be a case of keeping archives, to later be played back via the PVR again. ie. not easy to put into a format to then burn on to DVD on your PC etc.



They most definitely do, thanks again!
You're welcome! :)
 

vashek

Standard Member
So in the end I decided to order the beast and so far I am successfully restraining myself from trying it out before Christmas. ;-) I will let you guys know here if I find anything surprising or new, e.g. about the Linux inside. Thanks again for your advice.
 

AV Beginner

Standard Member
I wish I had found this before purchasing my Samsung BD-C8500! Great questions and answers!

Not being able to copy recorded TV to another media is really disappointing. My old Panasonic HDD with VHS and DVD can copy between all 3 media. It can't write to USB, or a computer via wireless though. It has an SD card, but I think that this is just for viewing pictures.

The reason I purchased a BDC8500, was that I was hoping to use it to record TV from the arial, then use a Samsung TV with Allshare/DLNA to receive the recorded TV via wireless/ethernet. I basically wanted one TV recorder, but wanted to play back on any TV on the computer network. I was trying to avoid having two HDD, one for the bedroom, one for the lounge, otherwise you have to think in advance as to where you want to be to watch something. I have a Samsung TV on order, do you think that I will be able to watch recorded TV from the HDD over the wireless/Ethernet. I don't wish to copy recorded TV necessarily, just view on a DLNA TV over the network. I getting concerned that my plans were ill thought, and optimistic.

Is there an alternative way around this problem?
 

NixEre

Standard Member
Ah looks a good explanatory thread. Thanks!

Have you managed to change the channel numbers ? I'd like to set it to the same as my TV - as left to the way it stored itself my favourites are way down and filled with gaps of scrambled sites ...
 

NixEre

Standard Member
Ha!

If you have a Samsung TV as well, then the AnyNet function can mean that the combined remote Tools button works on TV not the HDD - unless you press the green/orange button. Cracked it! Why don't they ever have stuff like that in the manual !!! They should always have them tested by idiots like me ,..
 

AV Beginner

Standard Member
Ah looks a good explanatory thread. Thanks!

Have you managed to change the channel numbers ? I'd like to set it to the same as my TV - as left to the way it stored itself my favourites are way down and filled with gaps of scrambled sites ...

I am afraid I can't answer this question NixEre, as my 8500 and I have parted company. I'm thinking of putting together a PC based PVR to get the flexability I want.
 

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