Today’s Ultra HD Blu-ray Blu-ray players are AV workhorses, serving as the multitasking foundation of modern home-entertainment systems. The UBD-M9500 ($269 on Amazon) is Samsung’s latest player that’s made to spin discs, but also to serve as an entertainment hub and multimedia portal. Crucially, it’s designed to integrate perfectly with the company’s One Remote and Smart Hub-equipped TVs.
With the M9500, you can stream video using apps, play media from mobile devices, send high-quality Blu-ray video to mobile devices, and play files from USB storage devices. You can also connect to media associated other devices on your home network.
The M9500 is Samsung’s follow-up to the UBD-K8500, which was the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player to ship to consumers. The hardware is very similar in appearance and performance, but the new model offers a number of added features and usability enhancements. So, let’s have a look at what Samsung’s latest player offers AV enthusiasts.
Features and Specs
When it comes to spinning discs, the UBD-M9500’s most important capability is playing Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Nevertheless, it also handles HD Blu-rays, DVDs (including DVD±R and DVD±RW), and audio CDs.
This player features the 2017 iteration of Samsung’s intuitive Smart Hub UI. It makes access to entertainment options easy and features HDR streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. Dozens of other apps are available in HD, including Vudu and Google Play.
The remote features a D-pad for menu navigation. It has standard playback controls plus dedicated buttons for access to various menus. Crucially, it’s uncluttered and easy to use.
Speaking of remotes, you can use Samsung’s One Remote that comes with select Samsung TVs (such as its QLED models) to control the M9500. This creates a seamless and intuitive user experience where the player acts like it’s an extension of the TV; no programming required.
Dual HDMI outputs allow the player to connect directly to a TV and soundbar or AVR simultaneously. This is important if your soundbar or AVR doesn’t pass HDR from the player to the TV.
The back of the UBD-M9500 sports dual HDMI outputs, one of which is dedicated to audio.
The UBD-M9500 plays HDR10 content, which is the standard used for all UHD Blu-ray discs and offered by Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube. However, this player does not support Dolby Vision, which is beginning to appear as an extra feature on some UHD Blu-ray titles.
One of the coolest features of this player is the ability to stream high-quality video from a disc to a compatible phone over Wi-Fi. You need a supported Samsung mobile device plus the Samsung Connect app to do this. Furthermore, you don’t need to turn on the TV to use this capability.
A text LED display on the front panel adds visual feedback that its predecessor lacked, flashing messages like “loading” and “play.”
Support for 360-degree video and photo playback is new on the M9500. I tested this capability using footage captured with a 360 action camera like Samsung’s Gear 360. You can use the player’s remote to smoothly change the viewpoint.
Ultra HD Blu-ray players are capable of delivering truly immersive AV experience to home viewers. Samsung’s UBD-M9500 does this by supporting HDR (high dynamic range), WCG (wide color gamut), UHD resolution, and Dolby Atmos sound. This combination provides a “knock your socks off” home-theater experience when played on a compatible display and audio system.
Even if your system does not support all the AV features UHD Blu-ray offers, the player adapts to the capabilities of the attached display. It offers HDR-to-SDR conversion as well as downscaling to 1080p. Furthermore, the M9500 lets you adjust the gamma curve of the conversion with low, medium, and high options.
Streaming Blu-ray video to my Galaxy S7 Edge proved more compelling than I expected. 1080p Blu-rays looked spectacular on the phone’s 5.5″, 2560×1440 OLED screen, and the sound was crisp. You can also watch DVDs and Ultra HD Blu-rays in this manner. It’s a great way to enjoy movies on a compatible Samsung phone or tablet—it works with S8, Tab S3, S7, Note 5 and S6 with Nougat OS. With this player, you don’t need fast Internet or to use up lots of bandwidth to enjoy movies.
Another sharing option lets you mirror the screen of an Android mobile device. This requires the Samsung Smart View app that works with most Android devices. It’s handy for showing your photos and videos quickly and conveniently.
I watched a number of HD and UHD titles on a variety of screens, including the Samsung Q9F, Sony’s X940E, a TCL 55″ P Series TV, and a Sony VPL-VW365ES projector. In each case, the player performed its job flawlessly and served up pristine video that made the displays look their best. Plus, streaming 4K/UHD video also looked fantastic, and the player was quick to ramp up to full quality on the services that supported it—Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube.
While evaluating the M9500, I accidentally tripped over an HDMI cable and yanked the player off the test bench. It survived the fall unscathed despite having a spinning disc in the drawer. I’m not saying you should try this at home, and I don’t plan to add drop tests to my review regimen, but it’s good to know it can survive a hard knock.
The great thing about the Ultra HD Blu-ray format in 2017 is that consumers have a lot more choices in terms of content and players than last year. Samsung’s UBD-M9500 enters the fray as a well-rounded UHD Blu-ray player that offers many desirable features for owners of compatible Samsung TVs and mobile devices. From playing 360-degree videos to streaming Blu-rays directly to a mobile device, this player is a high-powered entertainment hub.
The M9500 is a great choice for a UHD Blu-ray player, regardless of what brand of TV you own. But, for owners of compatible displays such as Samsung’s 2017 QLED TVs, it offers tight One Remote integration and exceptional ease of use with its Smart Hub UI. If you own a compatible Samsung TV, this player should be at the top of your “must have” list.
Please note that for comments, I have linked to the AVS Forum M9500 owners thread where you’ll find a robust conversation about this player and its capabilities.