dsc07656The Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player is capable of delivering 4K and HDR content via Ultra HD Blu-ray disc and through online streaming. It can also support high end audio standards like Dolby Atmos and up to 7.1 surround sound. With an increasing availability of 4K content on streaming services, is it worth it to have a physical media player when you can easily access content online?

Best Buy has provided an opportunity to check out a series of Samsung home theatre products to experience the latest technology and share my experience. This is the third and final installment in the series. If you are interested in a full home theatre makeover, please check out my review of the Samsung Series 8 Curved SUHD TV and the Samsung Atmos sound system.

An unexpectedly stylish and functional design 

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The Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player comes in a sleek design that features a brushed metal exterior. The slight curve at the front of the player provides a unique touch of personality (and will match Samsung’s curved TVs).

You can easily access the touch sensitive controls for eject, play, and power on the top of the device. I find this positioning to be useful because I am usually awkwardly bent when trying to eject discs on other machines.

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The remote control has a minimal design with only the essential buttons. Fewer buttons made navigation much more natural. I was able to memorize the positions of the buttons and didn’t have to constantly squint to find the desired function. Raised dimples on most commonly used features will also enable you to have a better user experience, especially in the dark while watching a movie.

Find videos you want with a straight forward interface

My previous experience with multimedia players has involved clunky user interfaces that either try to do too much or can’t do enough.

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The interface on this Samsung Blu-ray player strikes a good balance with a clean and simple layout. The menu features a design that gets you to your video content in a manner that is both easy and efficient. There are options to play your Blu-ray disc and to access frequently used apps. The user interface is easy to navigate and allows you to get where you want to go without any additional fuss or unnecessary travel.

Features for the best possible home theatre experience

Incredible detail with 4K resolution

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I was able to test out the 4K and HDR capabilities with an Ultra HD Blu-ray of The Martian and a Samsung Series 8 4K SUHD TV. It’s important to note that in order to experience 4K resolution and HDR, you need a compatible television, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, and compatible content.

The Martian in 4K looked incredible. Since it has 4X the resolution of a 1080p video, you can see additional detail that was only previously possible in the movie theatre. The colours were vibrant and the next level of detail definitely added to the feeling of immersion. It does take some time to notice the additional resolution but it becomes very apparent when switching back to 1080p video.

Experience increased depth with HDR

High Dynamic Range is a feature that can deliver faint details in scenes that have bright environments, and in dark shadows. With an HDR-ready television and compatible content, a broader range of bright whites and deep blacks can be displayed. HDR revealed certain elements in scenes that I previously had not seen or noticed while watching the 1080p version of the film. The landscapes delivered a realistic level of brightness and the darkness of space provided the deepest levels of black that I’ve seen on a TV.

Built in streaming services provide unlimited video content

This player comes with recent editions of Netflix and YouTube that feature a clean layout for simple and fast navigation. With a growing library of available 4K streaming content, it’s quite convenient to have access to these streaming services from right within the Samsung Blu-ray player.

I did find that streaming quality can become inconsistent, especially when it comes to 4K content. While the player is fully capable of processing the stream, the quality is also dependent on the speed of your internet connection. These speeds can fluctuate depending on how many people are using the internet at the time and your internet subscription. Nonetheless, streaming content provides a convenient source of entertainment and can be a great alternative when Blu-ray versions are not available.

The next generation of home audio with Dolby Atmos

mad-max-atmosDolby Atmos represents the next generation of audio in home theatre technology. Atmos simulates sound in 3D space with a specific intensity, height, and angle. This means a space ship can sound like its flying right above you. The only way for Canadians to experience Dolby Atmos is through Blu-ray movies that support the standard and having a speaker system that is compatible with Atmos. Most conventional Blu-ray players can support Dolby Atmos. However, this Samsung 4K Blu-ray player is one of the few devices that can also support the new Ultra HD Blu-ray discs that contain 4K and HDR content.

I was able to test out this innovative audio experience with the Samsung Atmos sound system and the Blu-ray edition of Mad Max. Sounds like explosions or debris landing around me actually felt very real.

Atmos made so much of an impression, it should be a prerequisite for anyone looking to build a new home theatre. In order to activate Atmos, you do have to change the audio settings in the Blu-ray player’s menu from PCM to Bitstream.

The value of Ultra HD Blu-ray

Consistency in picture quality is the biggest reason I’d recommend this Blu-ray player. As a person that regularly streams content online, I was ready to leave all physical media behind. I genuinely felt that Blu-ray was part of the past and online content was the future. That was until I got to use this Samsung Blu-ray player. My first experience with 4K content was with Netflix. The picture quality was good, but it did require time to reach 4K quality, due to the data intensive nature of 4K video files. If you have a slower internet connection, the picture quality may not even reach 4K resolution. The image resolution can easily fluctuate from 720p to 4K throughout your viewing experience.

Even if you have access to fast internet speeds, these large files can have a substantial effect on your monthly internet data allowance. My experience involved fairly smooth video that ranged from 1080p to 4K. But the whole time, I was concerned about using too much data and worried about potential internet data penalties.

Ultra HD Blu-ray discs have the benefit of avoiding heavy data consumption and fluctuations in picture quality. This can enable you to enjoy the visual experience and really immersive yourself in the movie. The introduction of Ultra HD Blu-ray movies have proven that physical media still can have a very important role in delivering the best possible experience in the home theatre.

Final thoughts on the Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player

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Before testing this device, it wasn’t very clear if Blu-ray had any future when streaming services dominate the living room. After seeing the benefits of guaranteed 4K and HDR picture quality with Ultra HD Blu-ray, I am convinced that Blu-ray discs are in many ways more superior when it comes to unlocking the best possible picture and audio quality.

The Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player can play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs that deliver no  fluctuation in quality or any impact on data consumption. This player can enable you to enjoy a consistent cinematic experience with immersive 4K and HDR. This device also recognizes the need for streaming services and provides an easy way to access content online.

The Samsung 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player delivers the benefits of physical media and the convenience of streaming content. This balance makes it easy to recommend for anyone that is looking for a future friendly device that can deliver the best possible quality, no matter the situation.

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