Review_New Products Tested By Experts (Part 2) - Samsung BD-F8500M

5/13/2014 5:08:19 PM

Samsung BD-F8500M

Blu-ray, TV recording and video-streaming services, all in a single box

We're baffled that it's taken so long for someone to build a single box that does everything a modern telly-addict wants, but it's here now and it's called the Samsung BD-F8500M. It's an unsurprisingly large box given it contains a Blu-ray player, 500GB hard drive, twin HD TV tuners and both Ethernet and Wi-Fi to access every streaming video service except Sky's Now TV.

Samsung BD-F8500M

BD-F8500M Smart 3D Blu-ray Player with 500Gb Freeview HD Recorder

This abundance of streaming services shouldn't be underestimated - Samsung's smart Blu-ray players, including the BD-F8500M, are currently the only ones with all the terrestrial TV catch-up services as well as Lovefilm, Netflix and Blinkbox. However, the Smart Hub interface - where you access these apps - and the apps themselves can be irritatingly slow. It often appears as if nothing is happening, when in fact it's loading or waiting for data.

The large remote control isn't easy to use. For example, accessing the Smart Hub interface is awkward as the relevant button is tiny and placed at the bottom of the long remote. It's especially inconvenient that there's no dedicated button to directly access programme recordings. Instead, it takes a lengthy nine button presses to see your recorded shows.

Samsung BD-F8500M

Samsung's latest all-in-one could simplify your home cinema setup

The TV Recording interface is clunky and feels half-finished. Recordings are presented in a two-row grid, but episodes of the same show aren't grouped together so the grid quickly becomes cluttered. You can rename recordings and remove ads using tools in the Options menu. We found operating the editing functions with the arrow and enter buttons of the remote to be slow and tedious work, but patient ad-haters will nonetheless find these tools useful.

Recordings can be scheduled from the EPG, but the option to record all the episodes in a series is difficult to find. If you're watching another channel when a recording finishes, then you're informed via unnecessary and jarringly large pop-ups. When a scheduled recording is about to start, an even larger pop-up appears asking whether you want change to the recording channel 'to check if scheduled time has updated'. This is not only intrusive, it's also a task the BD-F8500M should be doing itself automatically.

At least the BD-F8500M coped well with heavy use: we could record two HD channels while watching a Blu-ray disc or streaming a HD video through the Lovefilm app, for example. Only when we asked the BD-F8500M to also stream video to our PC did we encounter problems, such as the recordings becoming corrupted so they weren't watchable. However, as the streaming- to-PC feature only works with videos that have been copied to the box from a USB stick, we doubt many people will encounter this problem. We had no problems streaming music from the BD-F8500M to a PC, while recording two HD shows and watching a Blu-ray disc.

The EPG itself is well organised, with clearly legible programme information and a live preview of the current channel. Pressing the Info button on the remote brings up the full program description in a reasonably large font. You can renumber channels as well as re-order them in the EPG, so we could change to Channel 4 HD by pressing '4' rather than '104'. The EPG, like the rest of the interface, is a little slow with a delay of a few seconds between pressing a button and the menus loading.

As a Blu-ray and streaming video player, the Samsung BD-F8500M works well, but as a TV recorder it's merely adequate due to its slow, fiddly interface. There's no cheaper way of getting all three capabilities, though - pairing a Humax YouView DTR-T1010 recorder with the cheaper Samsung BD-F6500 smart Blu-ray player would cost $675.06 in total which is a lot more than the $407.67 for the BD-F8500M. If you can put up with its flawed interface, than the BD-F8500M is a good buy.

Samsung BD-F8500M Blu ray rip

Here's a 1:1 crop of Blu-ray playback on the BD-F8500M


·         1xHDMI«2x USB2

·         1x Ethernet

·         Wi-Fi

·         500GB hard drive »2x Freeview HD tuners

·         55x430x282mm (HxWxD)

·         2.6kg

·         One-year warranty

·         Verdict: Niggly, awkward TV-recording features blemish an otherwise good value set-top

box that does everything

·         Alternative: Humax DTR-T1010 $346.61 A much easier to use, if also very sluggish TV

recorder which also has all the terrestrial TV catch-up services







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