If there has been one thorn in the side of recent Blu-ray players, it's the painfully slow loading times.
So, it's refreshing to see that Samsung's BD-P1600 addresses this issue. It puts most players to shame. New machines from Sony and Philips certainly do similar, but nevertheless the speed at which we get up and running is a genuine positive for the BD-P1600.
You won't see this machine slip up when it comes to specifications, either. It's a Profile 2.0 player so has internal memory, USB inputs and BD-Live compatibility.
There are no multichannel analogue outputs, but we're far happier using the HDMI connection to send bitstream or decoded HD audio. There's an Ethernet port, or you can go wireless if you buy Samsung's optional dongle (£50).
A poised colour paletteStarting with DVD, we're happy with the poised colour palette, crisp edges and reasonable motion handling. The machine's ability to sniff out the finest details isn't up to the standards of the best, but we're far from perturbed.
More after the break
It's more of the same with Blu-ray. The BD-P1600 shows a natural hand with colours on Gran Torino, alongside steady motion handling and decent black levels.
There isn't the 'wow' factor when it comes to Blu-ray's insightful sense of three-dimensionality, but the BD-P1600 is half the price of a certain high-flyer in this test.
It's an impressive baragainSome noise, albeit hidden in complex picture constructions such as the skyscrapers in The Dark Knight, has to be forgiven, too.
Sonically, you'll need to spend more to hear real punch and dynamic power from a film such as Valkyrie, and the Samsung could use a little more clarity to dialogue, but again we find ourselves shrugging our shoulders with a 'but it's only £200' expression.
We're never one to dish out good reviews when they're simply not warranted – and don't ignore our repeated warnings of the better quality available for a little more money – but the Samsung BD-P1600 offers a level of performance that still impresses considering the bargain (and already falling) price tag.