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Samsung BD-F8500M review

Tom Morgan
8 Jul 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
281
inc VAT

Samsung's latest all-in-one could simplify your home cinema setup

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Samsung's combined Blu-ray player-cum-PVR set-top boxes are more than just space savers, they give you almost complete control over your home cinema setup from one remote control, and the BD-F8500M is no exception. It combines a 500GB internal hard disk, online services and twin Freeview HD tuners with a Blu-ray player, so there should be plenty to keep you entertained.

Samsung BD-F8500M

A curved right edge sets it apart from generic home cinema boxes. The BD-F8500M is relatively slim but is about as wide as any other set-top box. Its touch-sensitive buttons are located on the right edge of its top panel, and are comprised of Power, Play, Stop and Eject buttons. The front panel contains the disc tray, a single line LED display and a plastic flap that covers the solitary USB port.

On the back, there’s just a single HDMI video output, digital optical audio out, antenna inputs and outputs and a second USB port. You can connect to the internet via the unit’s Ethernet port or its built-in Wi-Fi adaptor.

You'll definitely want to connect to the internet, as it share many of the excellent online services as Samsung's 2013 range of TVs. The movie recommendations system, which can highlight content from any of the on-demand movie services built in to the TV, points you to titles you're most likely to enjoy. It takes about a week of viewing for it to provide intriguing suggestions, but its algorithms made accurate suggestions based on the content we watched. As well as on-demand movies from LoveFilm and Netflix, you'll also find the major British TV catch-up services, including BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Demand 5 and ITV Player, which adds real value to the BD-F8500M.

Samsung BD-F8500M

Multimedia playback from a USB flash drive was excellent, with support for all major file formats and several more obscure ones, including AVCHD and MKV. You can also stream content from a hard disk or NAS device on your network.

There's plenty of flexibility when it comes to broadcast TV, too; twin tuners let you record one channel while watching another, or record two channels at once. You can schedule recordings, use series link and rewind or pause live TV. There's a slight delay between each action, but it's a lot faster than many other PVRs we've used in the past. Picture-in-Picture lets you keep an eye on one channel while watching another, or superimpose a smaller TV window over the top of the integrated web browser.

Samsung BD-F8500M

Standard definition upscaling is easily on par with everything else we've seen this year, but predictably it doesn’t look as good as native Full HD footage. However, the DTV Smart Resolution setting helps sharpen standard-definition video without adding a significant amount of digital noise, even during fast moving scenes.

Even though high-definition TV streams have plenty of detail, the BD-F8500M excels at playing Blu-rays. Colours look accurate out of the box, with deep blacks and sharp edges. Blu-ray discs also load incredibly quickly, with Samsung's Quick Start mode bringing the player out of sleep mode in less than a second. Naturally for a high-end Blu-ray player, the F8500M supports 3D as well as 2D discs, with a separate settings menu to control depth effects should you not like the default appearance.

Samsung BD-F8500M

Dig deeper into the menus and you’ll discover even more options to control Samsung's DVD and digital TV upscaling settings, 24p movie mode and HDMI deep colour, but there are no in-depth image settings; you must calibrate your TV if you aren't happy with Blu-ray playback out of the box.

Samsung BD-F8500M Blu ray rip

Here's a 1:1 crop of Blu-ray playback on the BD-F8500M - click to enlarge

Sony BDP-S490 vs PS3

For reference, here's the same scene played through a PS3 console - click to enlarge

The F8500M is expensive if you already have a Virgin Media TiVo or Sky+ HD box. It’s great if you don’t already own a PVR, though, and its online features are excellent. It's also a quick and capable Blu-ray player that looks great and will play virtually anything you throw at it.

Details

Rating****

Features

Analogue tuners0
Digital tuners2
Hybrid tuners0
RadioDVB-T
EPG days8
Dual-channel recordingyes
Series linkyes
Video recording formatFreeview HD
Certified Freeview Playbackyes
Picture in Pictureyes
Interactive content supportyes

Connections

Analogue tuner RF inputs0
Digital tuner RF inputs1
Hybrid tuner RF inputs0
RF passthrough sockets1
HDMI outputs1
Component outputs0
Output resolutions480i, 480p, PAL (576i), 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets0
S-Video input0
S-video output0
Composite inputs0
Composite outputs0
Stereo phono inputs0
Stereo phono outputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF outputs1
Surround sound formatsDolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS, DTS 96/24, DTS-ES Matrix 6.1, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS NEO:6, Dolby TrueHD
Other portsEthernet, USB, CI slot

Storage

Capacity500GB
Optical driveyes
Region freeno
Optical drive typeDVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-R DL, DVD-RAM, BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE, BD-RE DL
Audio playback formatsMP3, WMA, WAV, AAC
Video playback formatsDivX HD, MOV, MP4, MKV, M4V, WMV HD, XviD
Image viewing formatsJPEG, GIF, BMP

General

Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on31W
Extrasremote control
Size430x282x55mm

Buying Information

Price£281
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.samsung.co.uk