Samsung BD-D6700 Blu-ray 3D Player Page 3
I guess the bigger question will become which device to use to access all of these services. Samsung has incorporated a completely new interface for its Internet streaming. Dubbed Samsung SMART, it gives you some nice options for searching for content without launching each individual application. Simply enter the title of the movie or TV show you’re looking for, and the player will tell you if it’s available on any of the services it offers. And does this player offer some services! On the video side, you get the most popular streaming options: Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, Blockbuster On Demand, and YouTube. On the music side, Samsung offers Pandora, and for the social butterfly types, there are Facebook and Twitter apps. That should keep you busy for most of the day.
This is the first device I’ve used that gives you a reasonably robust Netflix interface from which to access and manage your account. It’s also the first with a remote button that launches the streaming service. From the Netflix home menu, you can search movies, add movies to your streaming queue, and look at suggestions from Netflix. The interface works pretty well overall, although it isn’t as polishedlooking as the Apple TV 2’s interface, which is noticeably higher in resolution. But this still gives you all the options you need to manage your movies and watch whatever you want without having to go to a separate computer to queue it up.
Video quality for the streaming services was on par with any other device I’ve used. I got the best results with VUDU’s on-demand service, which offers full 1080p playback of their HDX titles with 5.1 surround sound. Netflix titles varied in quality. The high-definition content looked good but fell short of the quality you get from Blu-ray or VUDU. Standarddefinition titles suffered from obvious compression artifacts from the service. This wasn’t as noticeable on a smaller display, but it wasn’t something I could live with on a day-to-day basis on my projection screen.
The social network apps worked pretty well, although I pity the user who wants to type entries using the standard remote. You can synch other devices to the player if they support DLNA, but I didn’t have any on hand that would work with this technology.
What We’re Really Here For
While streaming services are great and give you an enormous library of new material, nothing comes close to the experience of Blu-ray. Even the best streaming services fall short of Blu-ray’s pristine HD picture and surround sound. The BD-D6700 excelled here, with reference-quality playback of both 2D and 3D content and a snappy interface that never got in the way of the experience.
I threw a whole lot of Blu-ray content at this player and never had any issues. Load times were about average compared with the newer players I’ve used. They never seemed overly long, nor were they lighting quick. Intermenu operations were quick and had good feedback, but I had to turn off the player’s BD-Live capabilities to really enjoy them.
I don’t care what the studios are telling you; BD-Live is one of the format’s worst features and one that I turn off as soon as I get a player. Most of the content it brings to the table is fluff. It’s designed to bombard you with more ads, previews, and other useless garbage that just slows down the already bogged-down experience. It’s rare that you’ll ever find anything of value, and turning the feature off can have a profound effect on the player’s responsiveness and enjoyability.
I watched a large assortment of the most recent Blu-ray titles, and the BD-D6700 provided all the picture and audio quality I get from even the OPPO BDP-95. Images were razor sharp, with jaw-dropping levels of detail and dimensionality. The audio experience was also second to none.
For this review, I connected the BD-D6700 to a JVC RS-50 3D front projector and an Anthem Statement D2 surround processor. TRON: Legacy is a great example of what Blu-ray can deliver. Available in both 2D and 3D, this title takes the home theater experience to the next level with an incredible high-definition image and a reference-quality soundtrack that will bring most speaker setups to their knees. This is a great go-to disc for showing off your home theater, and the BD-D6700 delivered it in spades.
For 3D playback, one of the definite highlights was Disney’s recent release of Tangled. While this one looked like a tween girl’s dream come true, it brought me back to the days when Disney was the premier animation studio. It has a great story and fantastic animation. The Blu-ray 3D release features some of the best 3D I’ve seen on the format yet, with no gimmicks but plenty of depth and dimension that complement the story and animation perfectly. The Samsung did all of this without a hitch and never got in the way of the experience, which is exactly what I ask from a great Blu-ray player.
While it may look a little unassuming, Samsung’s BD-D6700 packs more entertainment in its little package than just about any player I’ve used. The streaming capabilities are second to none, and Samsung has done some great things to make finding what you want to watch quick and easy. While I wasn’t completely sold on the 2D-to-3D conversion, playback of 2D and 3D Blu-ray Discs was outstanding. The player even held its own with DVDs, once we got it set properly. Given its strengths, but especially its Blu-ray performance and streaming entertainment platform, it easily makes the list as one of our Home Theater Top Picks.