Samsung BD-D6900M review
Samsung’s latest Blu-ray player not only looks fantastic, with its brushed aluminium finish, touchscreen LED buttons and slot-loading disc tray, but is also packed with extra features such as DLNA media streaming, internet TV functions and a Freeview HD TV tuner.
Connectivity on the front of the unit is fairly sparse, with only a single USB port and a Common Interface slot hidden behind a hinged door. There’s not much more around the back, with HDMI and component video outputs, an optical S/PDIF audio output and a network port to enable the SmartTV internet functions. There's also an aerial input and a passthrough, so you can connect the set top box and your TV simultaneously.
The D6900M works surprisingly well as a Freeview HD tuner. The electronic programme guide (EPG) has a picture-in-picture mode, so you can continue watching one programme while searching for another, and it can also double as a basic PVR if you add a USB flash drive or external hard disk. It isn’t without its limitations; you must format your storage device to a proprietary file system, so you can’t continue to use it for other files without partitioning it first from within Windows, and you can’t play back your recordings on a PC.
When you can’t find something to watch on TV, Samsung’s Smart Hub internet TV system has its fair share of useful channels, such as catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, film rentals from LoveFilm and AceTrax and access to the Facebook and Twitter social networks. The interface isn’t particularly responsive, but it's straightforward to use.
We had no problems navigating the player’s menus thanks to an intuitive graphical interface and a sensibly laid out remote control. We were pleasantly surprised to find that all our test videos played smoothly from a USB flash drive, including MP4, MKV, Xvid and DivX files. Music playback is limited to MP3 and WMA files, while only images saved as JPEGs can be viewed. Naturally, all these file formats worked over the network too – there’s also no need to run a cable from your router to the set-top box, as it has an integrated Wi-Fi adaptor.
The player resumes from standby in a very quick four seconds, but only to the Freeview tuner. There’s no way to set the player to default to Blu-ray playback, so you have to switch each time manually, but discs still started in an above-average 14 seconds. There aren’t many options to control image or audio quality when playing a Blu-ray disc – you’ll need to use the settings on your TV to tweak the picture if it doesn’t look right straight out of the box.
Like the majority of new Blu-ray players, the D6900M supports 3D playback, as long as you have a compatible TV set or projector. There aren’t many options to control the 3D effect, and although there is an option to upscale 2D content to 3D, we didn’t think it added much depth to our test footage.
At £200, the D6900 is only slightly more expensive than the excellent Philips BDP7600 Blu-ray player, yet it comes with the bonus of an integrated Freeview HD tuner. If you’re looking for a Blu-ray player to pair with a TV that doesn’t have a HD tuner then the D6900 is a great choice.
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