Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-Ray player offers great value for money

Let’s be clear: the Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-Ray player isn’t going to knock your socks off.

If you have your heart set on a full-featured Blu-Ray player, then this device probably isn’t going to interest you.

But then for its price – $300 at BestBuy.ca – Samsung’s latest Blu-ray offering undoubtedly offers pretty good bang for your buck.

Video quality is exceptional and the audio quality decent (it includes an HDMI output that can transmit high-definition video up to 1080p, as well has high-res audio).

The BD-P1500 also offers a well-designed and attractive on-screen menu and scrub bar, and is by far the best looking Blu-Ray player that Samsung has produced to date.

Among the negatives are: skimpy connectivity options, the absence of an S-Video output, and very limited accessories…in fact the only  cable supplied in the box is the Composite cable.

You’re going to have to fork out extra for those component and HDMI cables, if you don’t already own them.

That said, the player is very affordable – especially when you consider a more feature-rich Blu-Ray player such as the Panasonic DMP-BD50 would cost you nearly $300 extra.

Video and audio

The Samsung BD-P1500 – like its predecessors – has an HDMI output, and this would be the port you use to get the best video and audio quality when viewing Blu-Ray movies.

The player also includes a component video out jack – but using this would give you a maximum resolution of 1080i for Blu-Ray discs and 480p for DVDs.

The composite video out, isn’t something you’ll want to use much – if at all – as it only offers standard definition resolution.

The BD-P1500 is without two crucial outputs that were included in earlier Samsung Blu-Ray players (such as the BD-P1200, for instance): an S-Video and a co-axial port for digital audio.

Digital audio output is limited to an optical out port. The absence of co-axial is a bit unusual and a disappointment. (In my tests, it took me a while to realize there was no co-axial out, especially as I was used to this port in the BD-P1200).

Program material I used to test video processing capabilities included August Rush starring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Myers, which I watched by connecting  the HDMI ports on the Samsung player and an Epson PowerLine Pro Cinema 1080 projector.

The colours in scene of August Rush as a boy wandering in the open fields in the very first scene – were luminous and vivid, and the details distinct, as were the close ups of Leila (Keri Russell) and Louis during the title sequence – all shot in sepia tones.

The player handles DVDs well and with full details displayed and no jaggies.

Design

One of the most compelling aspects of this player is its design.

The BD-P1500 features a glossy black shell as other Samsung players do – but this one looks much slicker.

A more compact form factor (as compared with the BD-P1200, for instance) adds to its attractiveness. The front faceplate doesn’t have a bezel and the disc tray slot is slimmer and less conspicuous than it was on Samsung’s earlier models.

The LED display is a little too small though and the function commands on the LED (Open, Load, Play etc) aren’t very distinct. They are much clearer on the BD-P1200.

On the extreme right of the front panel there are controls for functions such as Play, Stop and Chapter Forward/Backward.

The remote looks pretty much the same as the ones Samsung has included with most of its products for the past couple of years.
I found the button placement pretty intuitive. The Power, Open/Close buttons are at the very top, and crucial, oft-used playback controls are conveniently located towards the middle.

The onscreen menu of the BD-P1500 is clear and easy to navigate – with a range of set up options for language, audio, display, HDMI, network and parental controls.

Conclusion

The bottomline is the Samsung BD-P1500 is a decent standalone Blu-ray player – with no bells and whistles, but certainly a good choice for the money you pay.

The BD-P1500 was initially released as Profile 1.1 player, which is the original hardware requirement for Blu-ray players.  Profile 1.1 meets bare minimum for playing back Blu-ray discs. You won’t have any issues doing most standard tasks– including movie playback, listening to audio commentary and tracks or even using interactive menus.

But to take advantage of advanced features such picture-in-picture video commentary or to download any extra content online you need Profile 2.0 support.

The good news is Samsung has very recently released a firmware update through which the BD-P1500 will get Profile 2.0 support other goodies, such as DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and.

If your player is connected to the Internet through the Ethernet port at the back of the device, you can avail of the update by hitting Setup à System Setup à and System Update on the onscreen menu to download the BD-Live update directly to the player.

Alternatively you can download the new firmware file from www.samsung.com. If the firmware file is compressed (.zip), you would need to uncompress it to a CD image (.iso), burn the image on a blank CD-R/RW disc, and then insert the CD in the BD-P1500 to complete the update process.

It’s a bit of a coincidence that the firmware update came on the very day that Sleeping Beauty which features BD-Live content was released on Blu-ray.

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