The affordable Blu-ray market is getting really quite crowded, so the Samsung BD-F750, Samsung’s flagship Blu-ray player for 2013, needs to be special to claim the turf traditionally held by Sony and Panasonic.
Samsung BD-F7500 review: design
The BD-F7500 is a very attractive Blu-ray player that’s likely to catch your attention on the showroom floor. Credit to Samsung for making a unit that looks slightly more imaginative than the usual black rectangle.
A band of brushed aluminium runs across the body. It doesn’t slide back or flip up to reveal something clever, it’s merely there to give a bit of contrast to the glossy black front and back. Nonetheless, it is striking and a neat way of jazzing up something that, conventionally, is a little dull looking.
The front is equally sleek, with a dimmable display, a flap hiding the disc tray, and a smaller flap for a USB port. Look to the top edge and you’ll find a few touch-sensitive buttons for basic operations.
Samsung BD-F7500: picture
Picture performance isn’t quite as striking, but the BD-F7500 puts out a decent image. The Samsung has a decent grip on motion, although the slow pan at the beginning of Cowboys & Aliens isn’t as smooth as we’d like.
Detail levels are impressive, and the leathery texture of Daniel Craig’s face is quite apparent. Colours are vibrant, but dark scenes could do with less noise and deeper blacks.
The image provided by this Samsung Blu-ray player is also flatter than those of some of its competitors. Shading could do with more subtlety – people sometimes look like layered cut-outs on a green screen.
These findings are consistent when we switch over to DVD: the picture is detailed and vibrant enough, but in need of more subtlety. We have no complaints with 3D performance: motion is fine and layering is well done.
Samsung BD-F7500: sound
It’s with the sound that the BD-F7500 delivers that we find ourselves disappointed. The Samsung doesn’t have the full-bodied delivery of some rivals, for example, or the dynamic punch of the Award-winning Sony BDP-S790, which sounds much more enthusiastic.
The Samsung’s sound is smaller and more closed-in than some, and the presentation can be a little cluttered. Loading up a Blu-ray of Shine A Light, we don’t get the sense that the Rolling Stones are rocking out in a concert hall.
To top things off, there’s a slightly hard edge to the sound, most noticeably in the treble.
Samsung BD-F7500: features
Samsung’s priority seems to have been the BD-F7500’s features rather than its outright performance. This is a well-equipped box, in terms of both hardware and software.
The back of the machine has two HDMI outputs, which is great if you want to connect a player to a TV and a projector at the same time, or to feed sound to an older amplifier that won’t pass through a 3D signal while passing the images directly to your TV. The BD-F7500 upscales to 4K as well – an eye on the future, perhaps, but not immediately useful.
Audio output comes in optical and 7.1-channel analogue flavours, while internet duties are handled by built-in wi-fi and an ethernet port.
Smart content is where this Samsung really comes into its own. It has the most comprehensive selection of services we’ve seen on a Blu-ray player. The interface is visually simple, with big blocks not unlike tiles found on Windows 8 devices. We like this approach: it’s less overwhelming than a field of menus.
Apps include the big names in video streaming (BBC iPlayer, 4OD, LoveFilm) and social media (Facebook, Twitter). There’s a page for movies and TV shows, where you can buy or rent content from Acetrax and Samsung’s own video hub.
There’s a web browser, though this is awkward and tedious to use with the remote control, and only marginally faster than a trip to the library. If you’re really determined, though, you can attach a USB keyboard and wireless mouse.
The BD-F7500 supports DLNA, which means you can access videos and music on a networked PC. You can also mirror the screen of compatible Samsung smartphones.
Sadly, there’s no control app for phones and tablets. You’ll have to stick to the traditional remote control. The buttons are a little spongy, but they’re responsive and some of them glow in the dark.
Samsung BD-F7500: verdict
The Samsung BD-F7500 is an impressive machine in terms of specification, but ultimately that isn’t enough to outweigh our disappointment with its performance.
It does the job, especially if you’re keen on smart features, but if you want a truly great performance from your Blu-ray player – and why wouldn’t you? – there are others to consider.
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