Originally Posted by Robert George
I picked up a 1500 yesterday and I'll add a few comments for the thread....
This is my fourth personally owned standalone Blu-ray player, not including the PS3, which I have owned since it was first released. Additionally, I have had all but two of all Blu-ray players in my system for evaluation. Only the Samsung BD-P1200 and Panasonic BD10 have escaped my steely gaze
. Of all the players I have owned and tested, only the Panasonic BD30 was good enough to last in my system more than a month. I recently sold the BD30 after some five months because I felt the newly updated PS3 was going to satisfy my needs and wants. After only a couple of weeks without a standalone player, I was already looking for another one. The PS3 certainly has its well documented strengths, but it is still not the same thing as a standalone player, and for someone that is not in any way into the gaming culture, the PS3 simply doesn't "feel" like a home theater component. With this as the basis for my comments, here is my take on the new Samsung BD-P1500.
For audio, I use the Denon AVR-4308ci receiver with a full 7.1 speaker configuration. The Denon is HDMI 1.3 with decoding of all advanced audio codecs. The 1500, like the Panasonic BD30 before it, is a simple single HDMI cable from player to receiver for a digital connection of all audio and video. All audio decoding is done in the Denon receiver, and the 1500 outputs all advanced codecs correctly. Although the newly updated PS3 now decodes DTS-HD MA audio, as well as TrueHD, I found that losing the ability to send the native audio bitstream to the receiver was one feature I missed most after getting rid of the BD30. You can spare me the "it's all PCM and all sounds the same" spiel. Most of the people that say this haven't listened extensively to both (PS3) player decoding and bitstreaming to a quality AVR. Not saying they're wrong, only saying they don't really know. Suffice to say, my stated preference is to send the native bitsteam audio to a receiver for the audio heavy lifting, at least with the gear I've used in my own system.
Video is primarily a Sony VPL-VW60 shooting on a 106" Dalite Cinemavision 1.3 gain white screen in a light controlled room. Also available is a 65" Mitsubishi WD-65831 DLP TV. Both accept 24p input, but only the Sony PJ refreshes at an even multiple of 24 (96 Hz). All critical viewing is on the Sony projection rig. No EDID issues with any of the components in this system. All 24p capable players I have used, including the new Samsung, have output 24p. In the case of the new Sammy 1500, I will point out that 24p output appears correct out of the box, unlike the previous 1400.
So, how does it look and perform? In a word, pretty damn good (okay, three words). Basic video performance on Blu-ray disc is easily top tier. The new Sammy is in the same class as the best Sonys, Pioneers, and the Panasonic BD30. Video quality among the best performing BD players is very, very close. While I would not necessarily say the 1500 is better than any other player I have seen, it is certainly no worse than the best I have seen. I would rate the overall HD video performance of the 1500 a half step above the PS3.
Strengths of the video section are excellent black level, sharpness and detail, color reproduction, and smoothness of the image. Shadow detail is as good as I have seen on my system, and perhaps the most visible improvement over the PS3, which seems a bit more prone to crushing detail in black by comparison. The 1500 does not lighten the image at all, there is simply a bit more dynamic range in the dark areas of an image. The exceptional range of black level also seems to add a bit more depth and dimensionality to the best transfers.
The 1500 is not lacking at all in sharpness and reproduction of fine detail, yet there is less "shimmering" in grainy images than I see with the PS3. This is very noticeable in the opening black and white sequence of Casino Royale
. With the PS3, some parts of the image are "alive" with shimmering grain. This is still visible on the 1500, though noticeably less shimmering without loss of detail. More film-like, if you will.
On the "nuts & bolts" side, the 1500 is much improved over previous Samsung models in terms of disc loading and Java performance. Disc load times are between 45 and 65 seconds for Java discs and as quick as ~25 seconds for discs without the "benefit" of Java programming. Overall disc load times are slightly slower than the PS3 and about equal to the Panasonic BD30, which makes the 1500 one of the best standalone players in this regard.
One other note, Samsung has designed the player to spit out the disc drawer extremely quickly. With the player off, pressing the eject button results in tray eject in about 5 seconds (yeah, 5 seconds). I will add that the player continues to boot after the tray opens. The player isn't really ready to play for about 30 seconds after turn on. Menu navigation is very quick with no noticeable lag, even on Java heavy menus like Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
This being Blu-ray, BD Profile features are important now. The 1500 is final standard Profile 1.1 out of the box. The player does have an Ethernet port, ostensibly for firmware updates, but also allows Samsung to make the 1500 BD Live ready
, as noted on the box, but not in the manual. A future firmware update will add full BD Live (BD 2.0) capability. Samsung has also included a dedicated "Bonusview" button on the remote to make accessing Profile 1.1 features on those discs that have them easier.
A couple of disc compatibility notes. Samsung does not claim compatibility with DVD+R media. However, I played a DVD+R and a DVD+R DL with not problems. The manual states the player will not play divx, avi, mpg, mov, wma, mp3, or jpeg content. I have verified the US model of the 1500 will not
play PAL video as well.
Cosmetics are obviously a subjective topic, but for the record, I happen to very much like the approach Samsung has taken with the 1500. The front panel is completely flat and smooth and, except for the "Samsung" logo and a few button icons, totally black. This also makes it difficult to find the IR sensor for those (like me) that use stick-on emitters for a RF/IR remote control system. It's on the upper right side of the player face a couple of inches to the left of the button group.
Some will say the build quality is flimsy, and it is. The player is very light, about 6 lbs. This is what one should expect of a $399 Blu-ray player. Obviously, physical weight does not directly correlate to technical performance for a product like this. Just be happy you won't need help getting it out of the box