The BD-H6500 is great-value, with great picture quality and unparalleled online content
Blu-ray profile: BD-Live (Profile 5.0), HDMI version: 1.4, 3D capable: Yes, Networking: 1x 10/100, 802.11n
The Samsung BD-F6500 was one of our favourite Blu-ray players of 2013, and its replacement, the BD-H6500, builds on its success. Not only does it have great smart TV content, integrated Wi-Fi and 3D Blu-ray support, the BD-H6500 can also output HDMI video in Ultra HD, upscaling Blu-ray discs to a massive resolution of 3,840×2,160.
This won’t be much use if you don’t have an Ultra HD TV, but when we tested the BD-H6500 with an Ultra HD monitor, Blu-ray films did look very slightly sharper once we’d enabled the Ultra HD upscaler. The effect of the upscaler was incredibly slight, but thankfully we didn’t see any evidence of blocking or artificial noise. The BD-H6500 won’t upscale DVDs to Ultra HD, though; our Ultra HD monitor remained locked to 1,920×1,080 even when the BD-H6500’s Ultra HD upscaler was turned on and footage also looked exactly the same when the upscaler was turned on and off. This doesn’t detract from what is otherwise a fine Blu-ray player.
Measuring 196mm deep and 360mm wide, the BD-H6500 is best placed on top of your AV rack. There’s a very small amount of flex in the top panel, so you’ll want to avoid slotting it between existing set-top boxes, if only to free up room for the circular touch control panel on top of the player. This control panel has buttons to play, stop and eject discs, as well as turn on the player. Of course, most users will prefer to use the remote control to perform these functions too, especially since the remote control’s play, pause, stop and rewind and fast forward buttons all glow in the dark, which means they’re easy to spot in a dark room.
Connection ports are few, but we wouldn’t expect to see many given the price of the BD-H6500. On the front, you’ll find a single USB2 port, which is handy for connecting a flash drive or external hard disk. The BD-H6500 supports all the major file formats, too, including MP4, AVI, MOV, FLV, DivX, DivX HD, AVCHD, MKV, WMV video files, MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV audio files and JPEG, PNG, BMP, MPO image files.
On the back, you’ll find one HDMI output, a fast Ethernet port and an optical audio S/PDIF output. You shouldn’t need to use the Ethernet port to get online, though, as the BD-H6500 has integrated Wi-Fi. It also supports DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct and Samsung Link, Samsung’s own wireless network app which lets you share content across all your Samsung devices.
Samsung’s updated home menu is now very similar to its TV interface, which is great news, because it remains one of the most user-friendly user interfaces we’ve used. Large panels for the disc tray, on-demand film and TV shows and Samsung’s apps dominate the home screen with smaller app shortcuts listed below. It’s delightfully easy to use, but it’s a shame you can’t customise the arrangement of apps on the home screen to suit your needs.
^ The BD-H6500’s home screen has a very simple and easy to use layout
Samsung remains a leader in its field in this respect as you’ll find all the core catch-up services you could want, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5, YouTube, BlinkBox, Wuaki, Facebook and Twitter. Strangely, BBC iPlayer was absent from our review unit, but Samsung promised us that it would be available in the coming months.
Sadly for tinkerers, though, the BD-H6500 only has a few image settings in its Options menu. All you can change is the aspect ratio and output resolution, and adjust the HDMI output to 24 frames per second. This isn’t really a problem in practice, as Blu-ray films looked fantastic. The BD-H6500’s picture quality is easily on par with our reference Blu-ray player and our test footage of Star Trek looked sharp and crisp with plenty of detail. Colours looked great, too, with no noise present whatsoever.
^ Blu-ray footage looked fantastic despite a lack of picture settings in the main settings menu
DVD upscaling was also impressive. There was more noise and jagged edges present compared to our reference player, but the BD-H6500 showed a lot more detail than cheaper Blu-ray players such as the Panasonic DMP-BDT160. For example, Kirk’s red car at the beginning of the film was much more clearly defined and we could see individual flecks of dirt that had simply been smoothed over on the Panasonic.^ DVD upscaling showed a much higher level of detail compared to other similarly priced Blu-ray players
At just under £120, the Samsung BD-H6500 is a great value Blu-ray player. You won’t find better smart content anywhere else at this price, and its picture quality is superb. It wins a Best Buy award.
|Features and video|
|Blu-ray profile||BD-Live (Profile 5.0)|
|4K compatible?||Yes (upscaling)|
|Stereo phono outputs||0|
|Coaxial S/PDIF outputs||0|
|Optical S/PDIF outputs||1|
|NETWORKING AND PORTS|
|Networking||1x 10/100, 802.11n|
|USB ports||1x USB2|
|Memory card reader||None|
|Video, audio and photo|
|Video playback formats||MP4, AVI, MOV, FLV, DivX, DivX HD, AVCHD, MKV, WMV|
|Image viewing formats||JPEG, PNG, BMP, MPO|
|Audio playback formats||MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV|
|Smart TV apps||Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Wuaki, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand 5, BlinkBox, Picasa, Facebook, Twitter|
|Dynamic Range Control||Yes|
|Accessories provided||Remote control|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||360 x 40 x 196mm|
|Price including VAT||£116|