Samsung’s BD-F7500 Blu-ray player has a lot going for it. It’s full of features, it looks good, and it has just the right connections for a high-end home theater (with one small omission—more on that later). On paper, it should be the cream of the consumer Blu-ray player crop. However, at $279.99 (direct), it’s pricey compared with nearly every Blu-ray player besides the Editors’ Choice Oppo BDP-103, and it lacks the bulletproof build quality and top-notch video processing that keeps that $500 Blu-ray player on top of the heap. The result is a nice-looking Samsung Blu-ray player that doesn’t quite justify its hefty price premium over similarly equipped players.
Samsung tied a silver ribbon around its high-end Blu-ray player. Well, almost: The 1.8-by-16.9-by-7.9-inch (HWD), 4.4-pound F7500 has a large silver-colored metal band running around the top of the player, giving it a distinct look and making it only slightly less capable of stacking other home theater devices on top of it. A completely flush, black glossy plastic face features a flip-down door covering the disc tray, as well as a small rubber door on the right edge covering a USB port. An alphanumeric blue LED display sits on the right half of the face, and a set of touch-sensitive, blue LED-lit controls run along the top right edge, in front of the metal band. The back of the player holds an impressive two HDMI outputs, optical and 7.1-channel analog audio outputs, and an Ethernet port, but no RS232 port for home automation (a feature found on a few high-end Blu-ray players, like the Oppo BDP-103).
The 7.8-inch remote is black and chunky, with glow-in-the-dark playback controls to make finding it in the dark easier. Samsung keeps designing the navigation controls on its remotes with rectangular buttons that are hard to find under the thumb, which is a little frustrating when you want to navigate menus without hitting other buttons, or accidentally hitting Exit or Return to go back a step. Navigation controls are much better when they’re circular, making them easy to find blindly. The remote has a dedicated Smart Hub button, but no dedicated Netflix or other networked feature buttons; you have to find them through the Smart Hub or the Home menu.
Speaking of which, the Smart Hub on the F7500′s interface is less the “Smart Hub” information portal found on Samsung’s connected HDTVs, and more a simplified screen that lets users select online streaming content, apps, or local media, using either three large buttons or a handful of favorite apps on smaller buttons below them. It’s functional and lets users access Samsung’s large app library and online content services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube alongside a Web browser, but it doesn’t try to be a family’s message and news center like the HDTVs’ smart hubs. You can access online services through the player’s built-in Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection, and you need to make a free Samsung Account to download and use apps.
The player also supports screen mirroring through Samsung’s AllShare Cast, a Miracast-like screen mirroring feature. However, unlike the Editors’ Choice Panasonic DMP-BDT230′s Miracast, the F7500′s AllShare Cast only works with Samsung mobile devices, and unpredictably at that. In my tests, AllShare Cast worked flawlessly with a Samsung Galaxy S 4, but I couldn’t connect with my Samsung Galaxy S III despite it being on the compatible devices list.
Strangely, the F7500 showed some video processing hiccups when testing using the HQV Benchmark 2.0 Blu-ray disc. In two different tests demonstrating the movement of simple foreground objects against a complex background, the player showed difficulty locking into the foreground objects, making them or the background appear “smeared” for a few seconds before stabilizing. It also showed distinct artifacts with overlaid text. I couldn’t produce these flaws in regular movie-watching, but their appearance in the test disc is notable, as they usually aren’t seen in Blu-ray players at all.
The F7500 is capable, but not super-fast in our tests of loading several Blu-ray discs multiple times. The player took an average of 21.3 seconds from closing the disc tray to displaying information on the screen, which is fairly quick but not nearly as speedy as the Panasonic DMP-BDT230, which took an average of 17.3 seconds to load Blu-ray discs and lacked the processing quirks in our video tests.
The F7500 features 4K upscaling for use with UHD televisions. However, at the time of testing, we did not have a 4K display available for evaluating this feature.
The Samsung F7500 is a great-looking, full-featured Blu-ray player held back by a few small quirks. The video processing hiccups in testing couldn’t be explained or reproduced in movie watching, but they’re still notable, and it’s a little slow to load discs compared with the BDP230, which retails for just over half the F7500′s $280 price tag. If you can overlook these small quirks, its two HDMI outputs, 7.1-channel analog audio output, and gorgeous design make it a solid addition to your home theater system. The thing is, the average user doesn’t necessarily need these features, and unless you have a home theater that supports it (an A/V receiver with 7.1-channel analog inputs, or a combination HDTV/projector system, for example), you’re better off getting an almost-as-feature-rich, much less expensive player like the BDP230.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc