AVS Member Review...
Samsung BD-P1500 (AKA: Admiral Joker and the Mystery of the BD-P1500)
By: Matthew “Admiral Joker” Maciejewski
If you follow the Bible, some say God’s greatest gift was free will. With that comes making choices, which can sometimes be more painful than visiting the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors. With Blu-ray finally winning the war, lots of people are wondering “What player should I buy?”
With so many players out there, and coming out I had a hard time deciding which player to buy. I was really looking at the Panasonic DMP-BD50, but it seems like it will never come out.
So, rather than wait for the Duke Nukem of Blu-Ray players, the mythical Panasonic DMP-BD50, I decided that the Samsung BD-P1500 seemed to fit the bill as a player that will meet my needs. I have had this player for over a month, and I would like to give a full rundown on Samsung’s latest entry.
The player sports of the usual set of outputs. The player has an HDMI 1.3 port as well as component and composite outputs. For audio there is an optical port and RCA stereo jacks, so no digital coaxial.
The player also has a USB port and an Ethernet jack for software upgrades only. Now, this is interesting because rumor has it that these ports will be used for the BD-Live features that are upcoming, and the box did say it was Profile 2.0 ready as well, so chances are these ports are Transformers (more than meets the eye). Then again, with the way the official specs on this player are written, nothing will surprise me.
Also, the player has Anynet+, which can allow other Samsung brand devices to control each other. Not so good for me since my TV is a Toshiba and my receiver is a Pioneer, but at least its there.
My initial impression was WOW! This player is currently the cheapest player on the retail market, and it defiantly does not look like it. It’s picture quality is excellent, and from what I can tell from my rather antiquated sound system, it is leaps and bounds better than DVD. Hope to get myself a 7.1 system supporting all sound formats soon so I can really put this player to the test.
It is, from what the box says is Profile 2.0 ready(?). I guess these are like old school stereo receivers that say they were “Dolby Digital Ready” back in the 90’s (AKA: Some assembly or extra parts required). Anyway, I have not seen anything in the manual that mentions this, or various other features in the box.
My initial guess is the manual was produced BEFORE the final specifications on the player were done, which is no surprise since my Oppo was the same way. However, I later discovered that the manual has more cryptic clues than an Agatha Christie novel, so do not look for the manual to solve any mysteries about his player’s specification.
Now you’re probably thinking, in my best Shaggy impression, “Zoinks Scoob! How are were gonna solve the mystery of the mystical player specs?” Well rest your fears because the box and the top of the player, which by the way is colored so close to a match for the color of the player that unless you tilt it into light like a watermark on what my company calls a paycheck you cannot read it, contains MOST the logos and information you need.
However, there is no mention of DT=HD Master Audio (DTS-HD MA), only DTS-HD. What is funny is the manual does not even mention ANY DTS SUPPORT, except for the fleeting comments made about DTS support if certain settings are selected. Silly Samsung, Trix are for kids, and apparently so are well written manuals.
Video features and performance are rather standard for the most part. Then again, I do not expect really anything bad with most players these days when playing Blu-rays, but DVD performance does very, so I will not dwell too much on the HD aspect and concentrate more on the DVD performance.
The player is set on my TV for 24fps at 1080p on my Toshiba 57HM167 DLP TV, which I was not even aware my TV would support. SURPRISE!!!
This player can pass 408i though HDMI and supports 24fps (Movie Frame on the menu). The player can also output 1080i via component as well for Blu-ray only (DVD is limited in this mode to 480p).
I compared this player to a few other players I saw on display in the store. It looks just as good as any other player I have seen, or at least as my best estimate from TVs on burn mode. But on my “perfectly calibrated TV”, as my wife calls it when I start to annoy her by changing the settings on my TV during her STORIES, it looks excellent. The colors are vivid and I have not seen any defects what so ever on the various movies I have seen that were not due to the movie itself.
When it comes to SD quality, it is not THAT bad. Not as great as my Oppo 981HD of course, but if you do not want DVD players in the same room, do not have enough HDMI ports, or have a significant other who keeps saying, “It plays DVD’s, you don’t need two out here” it is an very good replacement.
I have seen no interlacing errors with any anime or animated programs I have watch that usually plagued with errors on lesser players, and the picture for a films and TV shows I have watched looked just as good any standard upconverting DVD player. I have seen other Blu-ray players, and other than the ones with the high quality scaling chips, the video looks great.
It does an excellent job of playing Standard ratio material as well. The player has an auto ratio option, which is always a plus. It also supports Stretchovision as well for those who *Shudder* prefer that look. So, those of you who watch a lot of TV box sets will be very satisfied with the results. My Get Smart DVDs look just as good on the 1500 as on my Oppo, as did Babylon 5 and Farscape.
Okay, I will not rate this since my speakers sound about as great as two tin cans connected by a string. The sound is gets some distortion at time, but that is not the players fault, but rather that of my budgeting skills for not allocating any money to upgrade my speakers and receiver yet.
Now, aside from my rather ancient speakers, it does a great job with the sound options available. There is no issue with any playback, and comes out better than I expected. Quality is improved over DVD, which is a given with the increased bit-rate, so even people with older 5.1 systems will be surprised at the upgrade in quality.
Now, there is a catch. Certain people have reported issues with audio drop outs. Rambo is the only disc I have heard it on as of right now, and others have reported the same issue with other discs. I have contact Samsung and they are aware of “The Issue” and are working on it.
Feature wise, the player has a PCM, Bitstream Re-encode, and Bitstream Audiophile options. Each one is set to certain peoples’ needs.
PCM decodes Primary, Secondary, and Effects channel together into PCM. According to the manual this will DECODE Dolby True HD into multi-channel PCM over HDMI. However DTS-HD no longer works and is recommended for receivers that CANNOT decode DTS-HD MA. (See page 35 of the manual).
Wait… WHAT IS THIS!!! A mention of DTS-HD MA? So, if it cannot play DTS-HD MA in this mode, does that mean in Bitstream it will? Also, why are they mentioning DTS now, but nowhere in the specifications for the player in the manual. Ugh, I feel I am going to need a roll of duct tape before I am done.
Re-encode does the same thing as PCM but converts it into a DTS signal for receivers that only have an optical output for DTS. Pretty much it converts 7.1 to 5.1. This can result in worse sound than PCM or Audiophile, but I think is intended for people in my situation with an older DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 setup
I tested this, and it sounded pretty good, but I am a purest and switched to the next setting. However, for some people I think this setting will be best if you have an older 5.1 system for it mixes in the missing channels in the 5.1 setup and allows you to hear them.
Audiophile is straight forward bitstreaming of all audio formats. So, now I guess that means including DTS-HD and DTS-HD MA. Now, it does not say that, but does imply this. Now, I do not like when things are “implied.” I like it when things are straight forward. I contacted Samsung and they confirmed that the player does support all audio codecs. However, when it comes to DTS-HD MA it will only Bitstream, but will not decode and output via PCM (which is what a PS3 does).
It is nice to see they give you some nice audio options, even if they are rather cryptic about them. I will have to wait a few months to really try the sound out on this baby when I get my new system.
FEATURES AND PERFORMANCE
This player is VERY quick at loading. It takes usually less than a minute for a disc to start up. It also supports every function of each disc I have tried so far, and I can turn the player off and it will resume from where I left off on most discs.
It takes a few moments in between title changes, but is not that bad. It is faster than the PS3 from what I have seen, which is quite impressive.
It has an Ethernet and USB port on the back for upgrades only, but rumor has it for future expandability as well. Supposedly you will use both of these for upcoming BD-Live capabilities (Ethernet for network connectivity and USB for a memory boost via flash drive).
The player supports Internet firmware upgrades, but there has not been one released since launch, so not sure how well that works. I assume it will work fine, and am looking forward to testing this feature (manly to fix the audio drop out issue).
All in all I have to say this player is great for those of you who want to take the plunge and not break the bank. For the price I paid, I was not expecting such good quality, but surprise, surprise. This player can easily lay claim to being one of the top players on the market right now. I highly recommend this play for anyone who wants a Blu-ray player with full features, and excellent quality.
+ Cheap price
+ Supports all advanced audio codecs in Bitstream
- Audio drop outs (being worked on)
- Manual is more cryptic than religious text.
TV: Toshiba 57HM167 DLP TV
Receiver: Pioneer VSX-1015TX
Speakers: Front and Center: Campbell Soup Cans and Speaker wire (generic speakers). Rears: Klipsch RB-31
Blu-Ray Player: Samsung BD-P1500
Large Discussion Thread Located Here - BD-P1500This review was done via an AVS Forum member who is not an employed by AVSForum.com