Hybrid theory works

A 3D Blu-ray player/ Freeview HD mashup that’s got Steve May’s vote

Blu-ray players are evolving. No longer is a straight HD upgrade to DVD enough to tempt cash-strapped buyers. We demand more from our kit; we want 3D, networking, rainbows and kittens.

And lo. As a great example of hybrid theory, Samsung is giving us the BD-D6900. The disc-spinning element of this deck is just one of many attractions; it also has a Freeview HD tuner, access to Samsung’s Smart Hub IPTV and apps portal and can even double as a PVR (if you provide the hard drive).

The device has been designed to ape the brand’s upmarket TV screens, being thin and shiny, with a centre-mounted, touch-sensitive display. The unit uses a slot-in drive and there’s integrated wi-fi, too.

Accessing this feast of functions is easy via a lovely, hi-res menu system. From here you can jump to the Smart Hub, search your network for devices or watch and record TV. As stated, the BD-D6900 will record to an external USB drive. I hooked one up and it was good to go after being formatted.

DRM ensures recordings can only be played back on this unit. There is limited in-deck editing, though, such as dividing and partial deleting. The Smart Hub portal looks much like it does on the brand’s TVs. But there’s no open web browser or Live TV window. Our review sample sported most of the key attractions: YouTube, DailyMotion, Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, Google Maps, Acetracks. There was no BBC iPlayer, but this may have been offline.

The unit is DLNA compliant, but network media streaming isn’t entirely successful. Across my test network, it was unable to play MKV or MOVs. AVIs played albeit without SRT subtitles. Samsung optimises streaming from PCs rather than NAS products, so other users may have more success. The deck is at its best when playing files from a USB Flash drive, whereupon stubborn MKVs kick into action and AVIs do play back with subtitles.

3D converter

Blu-ray playback in both 2D and 3D I’d rate as fine for the cash. Pictures enjoy lavish levels of detail and noise is low. There’s 2D-to-3D conversion for flat source material, and while this can be unpredictable with moving images, it creates a quite interesting effect on some digital stills. For what it’s worth, I think Samsung has probably the best faux 3D conversion tech available.

However, I would only rate DVD upscaling as average, and as a CD player the BD-D6900 is best described as functional. Plumbed into a relatively high-end system, it really doesn’t image that well.

But then, it’s not that kind of product. Overall, the BD-D6900 is a pleasingly innovative release from Samsung. Those looking for a do-it-all 3D, HD and connected TV upgrade to their entertainment systems will find it uniquely appealing.


HCC VERDICT

Samsung BD-D6900
Price:
£280 Approx

Highs: Generous feature spread; Smart Hub portal; good all-round performance
Lows: Can’t record/browse the Smart Hub portal at the same time; unpredictable media streaming

Performance: 3/5
Design: 3/5
Features: 5/5
Overall: 4/5


Specifications

3D: yes and 2D-3D conversion
Upscaling: yes to 1080p
Multiregion: no Region B BD/R2 DVD
HDMI: yes x 1 v 1.4
Component: yes x 1
Multichannel analogue: no
Digital audio: yes optical and coaxial digital outputs
SACD/DVD-A: no/no
Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD decoding: yes/yes
Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD bitstream: yes/yes
Profile 2.0: yes
Tuner: DVB-T2 Freeview HD
Memory: Records to external HDDs
Dimensions: 430(w)x 255(d) x 33(h)mm