Convergence is the name of the game for much of the industry, but as any chef worth their salt will tell you, less is often more: it’s about the right combination of ingredients, not just throwing in everything you have.
Samsung (opens in new tab) – a company with just about any AV device you care to think of at its disposal – has chosen to mix one part twin-tuner Freeview HD PVR with one part 3D Blu-ray player, to make the BD-D8500.
But it isn’t just a Blu-ray drive – it also comes with all the extra features that Samsung’s players offer.
Arguably the most exciting part, and making use of the integrated wi-fi, is access to Samsung’s Smart Hub portal.
This new-look interface delivers on-demand catch-up TV, video streaming, Facebook and YouTube apps, and even a full web browser.
There are gaps at the time of writing – BBC iPlayer for one – but Samsung says these will be live soon.
Brimming with extra tech
There’s yet more to play with in the form of DLNA media streaming from compatible devices on your network (such as computers), a USB port for playing your own content and 2D-to-3D video conversion.
Connectivity-wise, there’s a solitary HDMI, component and composite video outputs, plus an optical audio output.
A huge wealth of features, then – and that’s before we touch on what will most likely be the driving force behind any purchase: the 500GB Freeview HD PVR.
If you’re in the market for such a device, then the BD-D8500 has all the bells and whistles – pause, rewind, instant record, programme record – courtesy of two HD tuners.
Watching free-to-air HD from the Samsung and flicking between this and our reference TV’s integrated tuner, we’re satisfied by what it offers.
Pictures look natural, with little sign of noise or instability and with decent attention to detail. The SD picture is more of the same.
Sharp operator with BD
Move to Blu-ray and you’ll find a slot-loading disc drive which, while neat – and accompanied by flash and responsive touch controls – does seem to be a little on the noisy side.
Nevertheless, once a disc is up and spinning, we like what we see. Images are sharp, colours are vibrant and fast motion is handled almost without fault.
Partner the D8500 with a 3D TV and specs and you’ll be rewarded solid, three-dimensional results, too.
All told, it’s the match for the best budget Blu-ray decks about. There’s full-bodied sound via HDMI, too, and the player is also capable of decoding HD audio, though there are no multichannel outputs.
What’s not to like? Really, not a lot.
It’s a shame Samsung’s Smart TV apps aren’t yet all present and correct, but the BD-D8500 is such a strongly specified slice of technology that it seems almost churlish to complain.
Fine performance from the myriad functions, and at a far from eye-watering price, make this something of an eye-catcher.
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