After spending the better part of 5 hours putting the player through its paces, I figured I would share my thoughts so far. I am not a reviewer and don't claim to be, but maybe this can help others in the decision to purchase the player. There could be some mistakes as I've just got it today, so don't crucify me if you find any
* TV - Samsung 65JS9500, HDMI Color "ON" for the connected HDMI port
* AVR - Denon X4200W, using the "HDMI 2" option (dedicated audio)
* Other UHD BD - Samsung K8500, for comparisons
Unboxing and build quality
From the pictures, I always thought the 7501 looked like an Apple TV. The form factor is similar, but it was bigger than I expected and feels good in the hands. I guess you could say it feels more "well built" than the K8500, BUT I never had any complaints with the K8500 build quality personally; I mean I'm not taking it out in the yard to play frisbee. It just works.
The USB port is in the back, which kind of sucks, but I don't really use it actively.
The remote is really solid; especially compared to the toy like remote of the K8500. It feels good in the hand, and the buttons are rubber, so the finger touch is nice.
Here is the player side by side with the Samsung for comparison.
Ok, people. I just tried to set up my wifi and my password has a tilde (~) and for the love of all that is holy, I could not find it anywhere on the virtual keyboard. I mean, I stared at the keyboard and the various tabbed screens for 15 minutes before changing my wifi password to remove the ~. I am hoping another owner can come in here and point me to its location! Perhaps the 1.04 patch fixed it, but I haven't been in that keyboard again since.
Apps and base UI
Yup, only Netflix and Youtube. So if a breadth of apps are needed, such as Amazon, VUDU, or FandangoNow, this player is a non-starter. Further, the ONLY way to access the apps is from the remote; there is no browsable tiles on the home screen. In fact, you can't even see which BD is loaded, if any. All you see is this:
Which brings me to a comment about the UI of the device: it's very simple. Not necessarily bad, but simple. I felt like an ogre when I couldn't figure out how to launch the BD title, until I just pressed the play button, lol. Oh and so far, every time I power it on from "stand by" mode, it auto starts the BD playback. I guess that is ok since there is so little else to do from the menu, but it can still be annoying.
Finally, and with much regret, it looks like the Netflix version does NOT support HDR as of the latest firmware (1.04).
Update: as I've used the player a lot to pause, fast forward, viewing various movies, etc, I must say that the UI is pretty slow. If I am skipping chapters to get to the end of a movie, it takes a long time. When I hit "home" while watching a movie, the screen goes dark for 6-7 seconds before showing the menu.
Now onto the Settings
* Resolution - standard fair here, and I left it on auto. And to answer the question - yes, it auto upscales 1080p content to 4k if set to auto (for those familiar with the K8500 BD Wise trick.) Perhaps someone smarter than me can figure out how to make 1080p out 1080p, so your TV does the upscale.
* 4k60p Output - Unlike the Samsung player, there is an option between 4k/60p(4:4:4) and 4k/60p(4:2:0) and Off. I left it at the default 4:4:4, which will come into play later. Also, I didn't see any RGB modes, like the Samsung has.
Standard fair here, except for one default setting you'll want to turn off if you're using the HDMI 2 option. Under Digital Audio Output, you can choose Bitstream for both Dolby and DTS families, but there is a "BD-Video Secondary Audio" option. It's on by default and with down convert your TrueHD to DD and DTS-HD to DTS.
The other settings are standard and just check the manual for info about those.
Now onto some Content
The first thing I wanted to check is how well this player played various media files on my network share. I must say, it's pretty crappy. It played the MP4 files just fine but couldn't play AVI nor MKV files at all. Perhaps it plays TS/M2TS files, but I didn't have any on hand to test. It was pretty disappointing.
Picture Quality and Banding
Alright, now it's time to check out some content! So I started with the first movie I got, when every was figuring out the K8500 settings 5 months ago - The Martian. Banding reared its head early on in that movie, which lead to a lot of discussion on settings. Note that in the following screen shots, both 4K60 modes switched to 4K24 for UHD playback.
With my TV in its current settings, and the 7501 defaults, I fired it up. I was immediately greeted with the worst banding I've ever seen:
The 7501 has a nifty display option, which read as such:
I am no expert on color spaces, but I remembered the discussion in the K8500 thread stating that BDs should be 4:2:0. So I went into my HDMI settings and changed it to 4:2:0. Immediately the banding was gone and the picture looked great!
And the display read as such:
This brought back memories of the JS9500 and having to set HDMI Color to On to get rid of banding. So I figured, for craps and giggles, I would turn that off and see how the player responded. With both 4:4:4 settings and 4:2:0 settings, the player wouldn't even enter HDR mode with HDMI Color set to Off on my TV! It entered some enhanced simulation mode using BT.709.
EDIT: I tried the "Off" 4K60 setting. The title first launched in 1080p which gave me pause, but it immediately switched to the same 4K/24 setting as 4:2:0 mode.
* If your TV has an HDMI Color or Deep Color mode, it will more than likely have to be on.
* Use the "4:2:0" or "Off" options under HDMI settings for 4K60, not the default 4:4:4 (at least for the JS9500; YMMV)
Picture options during playback
The options to tweak the playing picture is under Options on the remote, instead of Info like the K8500. There is standard stuff in here, but I will point out a few things.
* Subtitle Settings - there was a setting for "style" but I couldn't get it to be anything other than "None"
* Playback Information Window - referenced in the screens above. It's a handy window that shows you color output, audio output, and the current bitrate
* Video Settings - you can adjust Contrast, Brightness, Color Saturation and Hue; but there is no default configs like the K8500 (Standard, Dynamic, etc)
One annoying thing is that you can't adjust the audio delay from this menu. You have to completely exit the movie, adjust it in the main menu, and hope that it is right. I didn't see any delay issues with the player like I had on the K8500 (up until the latest firmware.)
More Picture Quality
After messing with the Martian and banding for awhile, I popped in another early movie that had a lot of discussion back and forth - Mad Max. Immediately, I noticed the reds were MUCH more subdued. Significantly
. Some examples:
I promise you it's the same TV and the same settings! I checked and double checked, and even switch between Auto and Native color mode and the red edge is gone. Here are a couple more:
My camera doesn't capture all the details and color, so focus on the differences between my camera's pictures. Clearly, the processing engine is different between the two. Honestly, I can't tell you what is "right", but I honestly find the Philips version better to watch. It's more "natural" while still having amazing HDR accents. I don't know what to think, lol.
I'm gonna stop here because I have to get to bed, but I wanted to get some initial thoughts out there. After seeing how different mad max looks, I'll be re-watching every single UHD I have and taking notes/screenshots.