Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray Player Comparisons & Conclusion
As much as each generation of Blu-ray players improves, it's still hard to beat the overall price versus features and performance of the PS3, especially if you don't care that the PS3 can't deinterlace 1080i. Even so, what the Samsung brings to the table is critical for audiophiles like myself.
The biggest plus is the BD-P1500's ability to send Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreams so that your AVR or high-end pre/pro can tackle the decoding. While the PS3 certainly does a credible job of decoding both formats and sending a PCM bitstream via HDMI, I have no way of comparing it directly to the decoders in AVRs. So for me, this key feature is worth the price of the BD-P1500.
As I mentioned earlier, the BD-P1500 decodes Dolby TrueHD internally, but it is limited to sending a DTS-HD MA bitstream or decoding only the core DTS data. Samsung has announced no update that will add this capability, but I suppose it's possible. This is one area in which the PS3 can't catch up, as its hardware is incapable of sending the pure lossless bitstream, which is the player's biggest weakness.
Conversely, the PS3 has a distinct advantage with its large hard-drive capacity, especially for those who enjoy BD-Live functionality. Even the smallest version is 40GB, more than enough for any capabilities that might come along.
Another inevitable comparison is with the Panasonic DMP-BD50, the first dedicated Blu-ray player in the US with BD-Live capabilities. With its recent drop in price to $600, the BD50 is still half again as much as the BD-P1500, but it offers several advantages over the Samsung. It provides BD-Live out of the box, and it can decode DTS-HD MA. It also offers a 5.1-channel analog output and both types of conventional digital-audio outputs. Only you can decide if these features are worth an additional $200 over the BD-P1500.
There's a lot to like about this player, though I am surprised it was brought to market without BD-Live and DTS-HD MA decoding. If Samsung had included these features, it would be easy to give this player an unequivocal thumbs up. As it is, though, I find it difficult to definitively recommend the BD-P1500, since it sells for the same price as the PS3, which provides both of these capabilities. The key features that the BD-P1500 has over the PS3 include its ability to send the lossless audio codecs as bitstreams and deinterlace 1080i.
Maybe Blu-ray players haven't attained commodity status yet, but now that the format war has ended, we are sure to see a lot of manufacturers finally come out with players of their own. That can only embolden the format and bring prices down further. However, how soon we'll see a glut in the marketplace is anyone's guess. So, if you've been waiting for a dedicated player that won't eat into your pocketbook too deeply, the Samsung BD-P1500 is one of the best options at the moment.
Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream output
High-quality decoding of Dolby TrueHD
24fps video output
Most attractive price for dedicated Blu-ray player
Requires firmware update for BD-Live (Profile 2.0)
Limited internal memory, requires external flash drive for Profile 2.0