It's hats off (and quite possibly wallets out) for Samsung. With the BD-P4600 Blu-ray player, it provides a welcome change from the visual norm.
Styled to ape the finish of the company's splendid 7000/ 7020 series of LCD screens (with a choice of clear or red accents), it's a taste of a Bang & Olufsen-esque high design at a fraction of the price.
The BD-P4600 features touch-sensitive fascia controls, a slot disc-loading mechanism on the right-hand side as you look at the picture, and, perhaps most exciting, it can be mounted on the wall using the bracket supplied.
Specification extends as far as an Ethernet port for BD Live access, though there are no component video or analogue multichannel outputs. Clear, concise menusMenus are clear and concise, and the remote is altogether more legible and palm-friendly than that supplied with the matching Samsung screen.
Delivering 1080p Blu-ray images of There's Something About Mary, the Samsung generates colourful, punchy images that don't scrimp on the details but do struggle just slightly to keep motion under full control.
More after the break
Deep dark blacks and bright white coexist happily, and there's just the right degree of lividity to skin-tones. Edges are reasonably well marshalled, and depth of field is more than acceptable.
Good DVD upscalingThe BD-P4600 upscales DVD with similar competence. It's not immune to picture noise when the going really gets tough, it's true, but nevertheless our DVD of Training Day looks very fine when the Samsung upscales it to the all-important 1080p resolution.
In either case, sound is on the bland side of satisfactory – it's not as hard as some at the top end, but doesn't have the low-frequency presence or dynamic potency to make the most of a burly action-movie soundtrack.
And, as we might have predicted, CD playback sounds reminiscent of highly compressed MP3 files.Trouble with HDMI handshakeSo far, the BD-P4600 seems a solid four-star player. However, the Samsung proved extremely picky about its HDMI ‘handshake' when linking to either a screen or a multichannel receiver.
So much so, in fact, that we looked at two examples and they were both equally fussy.
We don't think that extensive fiddling with different brands of HDMI cable is what the prospective BD-P4600 customer will necessarily have in mind – and that's why it ends up with three stars.