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Samsung UBD-M9500 review: The 4K Blu-ray player you can stream movies from

Christopher Minasians
17 Jul 2017
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
350
inc VAT

It’s rather expensive versus the Xbox One S, but the UBD-M9500 has a few tricks up its sleeve

Pros 
Good image quality with HDR capabilities
Blu-ray to mobile streaming
Excellent selection of built-in apps
Cons 
Expensive
Ultra HD upsampling
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It’s taken a while, but finally the trickle of 4K Blu-ray players is turning into something more substantial. It’s a steady stream rather than a torrent at present, but at least there’s more choice than last year, when for a long time only three players were vying for consumers’ cash.

The latest model to appear is the Samsung UBD-M9500, and it might just be the most feature-packed of them all. Not only does this player offer 4K HDR playback, but it can also be used to stream your discs to other devices. Kids watching Netflix on the main TV? No problem: you can stream whatever you want to watch straight to your tablet or phone.

READ NEXT: Best 4K Blu-ray player: The best Ultra HD Blu-ray players you can buy in 2017

Samsung UBD-M9500 review: What you need to know

In summary, the UBD-9500 is a top-class 4K Blu-ray player, stacked with features and capable of playing back 4K Blu-rays in stunning quality.

Even though it might not have all the connectivity options the Oppo UDP-203 has to offer, and can’t play games like the Xbox One S, it’s still one of the best players you can buy.

Samsung UBD-M9500 review: Price and competition

The UBD-9500 can be found for £290 at Amazon. You can also find it at Richer Sounds for £350 with a free copy of Planet Earth II in 4K Ultra HD, 50% off a 4K Ultra HD disc from Zoom, and a £100 cash back when purchased with any new Ultra HD TV or all-in-one Samsung soundbar. John Lewis also sells the player for £350 and also comes with a free copy of Planet Earth II.

When I reviewed the player it came with a £400-£500 price tag. Now it's a lot more affordable at a new £350 RRP. Retailers like Amazon also offer it for even cheaper, which makes it an interesting proposition for videophiles.

That’s still pricey, though, and there’s plenty of competition, with the £200 Microsoft Xbox One S at the bottom of the price range and the Oppo UDP-203 at £650 at the top. There’s also the Panasonic DMP-UB900EBK at £370 and Samsung’s very own UBDK8500 at under £200 to contend with.

READ NEXT: Best TV 2017: The best televisions to buy

Samsung UBD-M9500 review: Features, design and build quality

The Samsung UBD-M9500 is a handsome-looking device. The chassis is curved to match Samsung’s TVs of the same shape, it’s finished in attractive brushed aluminium, and the layout is pleasingly minimalist. A narrow OLED display adorns the front bevelled edge, there are touch-sensitive buttons for powering on the player and ejecting discs (for all other commands you have to use the remote control), and a USB 2 port resides on the right-hand side for file playback.

At the back, there’s plenty in the way of physical ports. You get one optical audio output, an Ethernet port for network connection and two HDMI outputs. One of these is HDMI 2 with HDCP 2.2, while the other is HDMI 1.4 and only outputs audio. It doesn’t stop there, though: the UBD-M9500 also has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2x2 MIMO) and also Bluetooth, which allows you to play music from your smartphone via the player to your TV or hi-fi, or mirror its display.

The player’s killer feature, however, is its ability to stream disc-based content back in the other direction, via Wi-Fi Direct. In typical Samsung fashion, the feature is currently only supported on the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, Tab S3, S7, Note 5, and the S6 with Android 7, but it does work well. I tested it with a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and the results were seriously impressive. Our 4K Blu-ray of The Revenant scaled to the phone’s 1,440 x 2,960 resolution perfectly and looked very nice indeed.

The Samsung UBD-M9500 is also capable of playing 360-degree content – the sort you might film with your Samsung Gear 360 – but the process is so impractical and awkward you’ll probably never bother. You need a Samsung Galaxy phone or PC to convert the media, then you have to move it to USB storage, at which point you can plug it in and play it back, using the remote control to pan around.

That remote control, though, is very neatly designed. It’s not overly large or encumbered with hundreds of buttons but fits in the hand nicely and puts all the key controls immediately under your thumb.

Elsewhere, the player supports 4K playback, naturally, and HDR10. Unlike the Oppo UDP-203 there’s no support for Dolby Vision HDR, but as content is still limited on that front, it comes as no surprise that Samsung has decided against its inclusion.

For audio-playback support, there’s support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Atmos and DTS-X via bitstream output. If you’re one of those people still watching 3D content, though, you’re going to be disappointed; the Samsung UBD-M9500 doesn’t support it.

READ NEXT: Dolby Vision vs HDR 10 – what's the difference?

Samsung UBD-M9500 review: User interface and built-in apps

As with last year’s UBD-K8500, the UBD-K9500’s user interface is attractive, easy to use and responsive. Samsung’s library of built-in streaming apps is impressive, too, including not only Netflix and YouTube but also Amazon Prime Video.

You might rightly wonder why Samsung bothers with apps at all, since all 4K TVs come with their own built-in streaming apps. However, although most modern 4K TVs support the full range of 4K services, some early 4K tellies may not have, and f you’re a 4K projector owner, having apps built into your player is essential since projectors rarely have built-in streaming apps.

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Samsung UBD-M9500 review: Performance and image quality

The overall performance of the Samsung UBD-M9500 is fantastic. Much like the Oppo UDP-203, I found the player responsive and speedy to load discs; it’s better in this regard than the Xbox One S. It isn’t noisy either: even at quiet volumes I couldn’t hear the disc spinning, and there’s no fan noise at all. It’s much less distracting than the Xbox One S.

I hooked the player up to our reference TV – the Samsung UE65KS9000 – and was blown away by the image quality. Scenes from The Revenant are accurately reproduced with HDR adding more vibrant and realistic colours and gleamingly bright specular highlights. When I popped Star Trek Beyond into its disc tray, colours burst to life. From accurate skin tones, to the verdant green forests and sandstone rock of the planet Altamid, to the bright colours of phaser fire against the darkness of space, the movie looks fantastic.

I compared it back to back with the Xbox One S and found colours were slightly more vibrant and cleaner with less video noise on the Samsung. However, its Ultra HD upscaling capabilities aren’t the best. When I played our Transfomers: Age of Extinction Blu-ray, I found it didn’t upscale as well as the Oppo UDP-203. Video noise is present and, on a big 65in curved TV, it’s easy to see the loss of detail over the Oppo player.

READ NEXT: Panasonic DMP-UB900 review

Samsung UBD-M9500 review: Verdict

The Samsung UBD-M9500 is a fantastic 4K Blu-ray player, then, but does it warrant the extra cash over the Xbox One S? The answer to that question has to be no.

Even at its reduced £350 price tag, the Samsung is a hard sell for the average joe. Yet, for video enthusiasts, its new price tag is a lot more appealing than the £650 price tag set by the Oppo UDP-203.

The Wi-Fi streaming and Bluetooth facilities are useful, but there’s simply no way they’re worth spending all that extra cash over a £200 Xbox One S. If these features don't entice you, the Samsung UBDK8500 offers good value for money at its sub-£200 price tag.