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Samsung BD-D8500M review

Tom Morgan
31 May 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
390
inc VAT

An amazingly extensive feature set and excellent user interface make the BD-D8500M a fantastic all-in-one set-top box, but the single-channel recording is disappointing.

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Combination set-top boxes make a lot of sense; they take up less room under a TV than separates, need fewer cables and consume less power. Samsung’s BD-D8500M combines a Blu-ray player, Freeview HD decoder and 500GB hard disk recorder into a single compact unit, that looks great thanks to an illuminated touch-sensitive front panel and slot-loading optical drive.

Used as a Blu-ray player, the BD-D8500M has all the features we would expect, including support for 3D and BD Live content as well as Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master audio. It can also convert 2D content to 3D, but we still aren’t convinced this is a must-have feature. Most Blu-ray discs loaded in under 30 seconds, with only a few taking longer. The remote control has all the buttons we would expect to see, and although they aren’t illuminated like Samsung’s TV remotes, several buttons have been treated with a glow-in-the-dark coating to make it easier to control a movie with the lights off.

Samsung BD-D8500M

With built-in Freeview HD, the D8500M looks like an excellent upgrade for anyone with an older set-top box. The on-screen interface will feel familiar to anyone that’s used a Samsung TV in the past year; programme information is surprisingly detailed, as is the eight day EPG. Programmes can be scheduled to record onto the internal hard disk, although you can’t record two at once or timeshift on one channel while recording on another. The 500GB hard disk is large enough for over 100 hours of high definition video.

Unfortunately TV recordings can’t be archived onto a separate storage device; the single USB port on the front of the box is purely for playback from an external hard disk or flash drive. Almost every major video, audio and image format is supported, so you should have no trouble with different file types. As it’s also DLNA-compatible, you can also stream content from a PC or NAS using the Ethernet port or built-in 801.11n Wi-Fi. The interface has been streamlined from the design we saw in last year’s TVs and is now much easier to navigate, with large text-based menus and bright animated icons. It was also much more responsive than previous versions of the software, letting us navigate between menus quickly and easily to find our files.

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