One strike, and this Samsung DVD player is out

Nov 22, 2011 (Updated Nov 26, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent picture, easy WiFi connection, interoperates with Samsung TV

Cons:No USB port; Awkward menus. Audio setup  too complicated; audio quality undependable

The Bottom Line: This is a cheap entry-level Blu-Ray DVD player, but its quality is highly questionable.

I purchased this Samsung Blu-Ray DVD player to take full advantage of our new  Samsung 55-inch HD 1080P TV. I got it to replace a still-serviciable Sony DVD player dating from 2005. As a satisfied owner of two Samsung TVs, I expected a quality product. In this instance, unfortunately, I was disappointed.

First the good: This player is not expensive. The Blu-Ray DVD picture was spectacular. But, having no prior experience with Blu-Ray, I don't know how this player's performance compares with others in this department. We only played two Blu-Ray discs on it; the first played without a hitch, but on the second one, the picture was jerky during the movie, but curiously, not during the trailers or special features. I don't know if this was a problem with the DVD player or whether it was native to the disc. This player did a good job streaming Internet content. It was easy to join this player to my WiFi network. Works with Samsung TV to adjust screen resolution (720p or 1080p) according to DVD content. On-screen settings menus are informative, providing concise information on what each setting does; there's no need to dig into a manual to understand what they're for.

Next, the not so good: I found negotiating the on-screen menus to be somewhat awkward, and Internet content was limited. We stream video from Netflix and the Netflix menu on our primary streaming source -- our Roku box -- is much easier to navigate than the Netflix menus on either the Samsung TV or this DVD player. This player has limited inputs. There's an Ethernet port for connecting to the Internet, but no USB port for a WiFi adapter. (Accordeing to online specs, there is a USB port, but I didn't see one on the model I bought.) I bought a Netgear Ethernet/WiFi adapter to get around this problem. Finally, this player is not 3D-capable.

Now the really bad: I had a terrible time with the audio. I run the sound from the DVD player through a Bose 3.2.1 home theater system, connecting the DVD audio to the Bose receiver via a coax digital cable. This setup worked flawlessly with the old Sony DVD player. The Bose system was able to detect Dolby Digital 5.1 sound tracks with no problems. Even though it's not a true surround sound system, this provides a much fuller sound than "PCM" stereo playback. But the audio from the Samsung was often intermittent or completely missing. I had to keep fiddling with the overly complex audio settings to get the sound to work. (Despite the fact that on-screen explanations are provided for each setting, too much technical knowledge on the part of the user is still required -- e.g., whether my older Bose system operated on 96kz or 48kz; I had to call Bose tech support to find out.) I thought maybe the cable was bad, so I got a new one and used it first with the old Sony DVD player. It worked fine. But when I plugged this cable into the Samsung, I still had problems -- no sound, or only one-channel (one-speaker) sound, or no Dolby. I finally concluded that the Samsung player was defective, took it back to Best Buy and exchanged it for a Sony player, which so far is performing fine in all aspects. The Sony player didn't cost me any more than the Samsung and it has an Ethernet port and a USB port, and it is 3-D capable.

Samsung's TVs may be fine, but based on my experience, I would say that Samsung has a serious quality-control problem with their DVD manufacturing.

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