Samsung's sixth generation player is close to what some would call a complete player. It features support for all the audio codecs Blu-ray supports as well as internet streaming services such as Netflix and Pandora. The really interesting new feature is the fact that it supports a Wifi dongle, which to most means they can actually take advantage of the included internet features as well as BD Live -- this is because most don't have wired internet connections behind their TV. Of course the main point of the device is to play Blu-ray discs and we're happy to say that despite all the new features, the player doesn't lose focus on its core functionality.
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- USB port in front and back is something that should be on every Blu-ray player.
- Remote is a definite improvement over the BD-P1500's.
- No problems with HDMI audio sync and bitstreaming works great on all codecs.
- To eject the tray when the player is off only takes 2 seconds.
- It only took 54 seconds to load a BD-J title (Ratatouille).
- The buttons on the front look and feel cool when you use them.
- It consumes less than 1 watt in standby, 13 watts at the home screen, 19 watts playing movie, and 14 watts playing Pandora.
- The sounds that the player makes for Touchkey and Power can be disabled.
- LEDs on front are adjustable as well as the on screen scrub bar.
- There are lights to indicates when USB, HDMI and 24p are in use on front panel.
- Dynamic compression can be enabled/disabled for those who don't like loud explosions -- not us.
- The bitstream re-encode setting is great if your AVR doesn't do TrueHD.
- Internal codec decoding sounds great, and useful too if you like PiP (BonusView).
- Network test is a great feature if you're having network issues.
- Pandora is easy to setup and sounds pretty good, but there aren't any visualizations or a screen saver.
- Making a new station on Pandora is easy and something you would actually use.
- We like it when the player features a screen saver.
- At less than $300 we really like the price.
- Remote feels flimsy and isn't back-lit.
- Buttons are on the front are under the flip down door.
- No coax digital output.
- Delay between songs via Pandora could be shorter.
- You have to stop the disc to change settings like PCM to bitstream, resume works good though.
- Main menu navigation is annoying.
- Player should have an easy way to tell which codec it is decoding.
- The door on the front gets in the way, especially if you want to use an IR blaster.
- No discrete IR codes.
- There is no built in storage for BD Live.
- Loud fan, not as loud as a 360, but can be heard from across the room when not inside furniture.
- At $80, the Wifi dongle costs twice what it should.
The flip down door
We're not sure who thought it would be cool to put a flip down door on this player, but they were wrong. This door does nothing but get in the way, and to make things worse, the player looks terrible when the door is down. If we did own this player, we'd probably figure out a way to take it off completely, but even then you're left with an ugly player.
Although the BD-P1600 isn't our favorite player there is a lot to like about it, and more importantly, it is an improvement over the BD-P1500. The best part is that even though it is better than last year's, you're going to pay less for it too. We really wish Samsung would do some simple things though, like add discrete IR codes, built in storage for BD Live -- what's a gig of flash memory cost these days anyways? -- and price it's Wifi dongle appropriately, but no one's perfect. Ultimately we are very satisfied with the feature list in this entry level player, especially since internet streaming features like Netflix and Pandora were about a $100 upgrade in the last generation of players. At this point though, it is still too early to predict how it will fare against the other new entry level players, but the fact that Samsung had its new model to market first should speak volumes for the company's ability to continue to be the first to get the latest technologies to market.