For Christmas, my parents gave us a gift card to apply towards a Blu-ray player that could stream Netflix. I did some research on models this morning and picked out what I wanted: the Samsung BD-P1600. I don’t own any Blu-ray discs and may not ever. All I wanted was a player that would excel at streaming Netflix movies. If it could play discs too, well, so much the better.
I spent the evening playing around with it. How does it perform? Fantastically. On the first power-up, it took several minutes for the system to download an apply a firmware update. After that, though, it’s worked very well. I was stunned at the picture quality when I tried streaming some movies: it’s amazingly good. So much so that I’m not at all surprised now that the big cable companies are shitting bricks over this technology. The writing is on the wall for cable TV: I have 12,000+ titles of movies and television shows available for watching anytime. Why would I want to saddle myself with a costly cable subscription?
The Samsung also streams Pandora, which (as you might know) is my favorite source of music. The only problem I have to solve is how to get my Samsung to stop powering off whenever I turn off the TV.
The YouTube support is interesting if not kludgey to operate. The player has no keyboard, making text input painfully slow. Without having the unit log into a YouTube account it is very time-consuming fetching a particular video.
There is support for Blockbuster’s streaming service but there’s zero chance of me using that one.
One thing missing that I would like to see is support for the uPnP protocol, making this unit work with Windows Media Center and MythTV servers. Perhaps a future firmware update will add this support.
All in all, this system appears to be a great buy. Maybe it also performs well playing DVD and Blue-ray discs. One day I might get around to testing them.
Update 3 January: After playing with this system for a bit I should’ve opted for a Samsung BD-P3600 or BD-P4600. Both of these models have USB 2.0 ports, whereas the P1600 does not. You need USB 2.0 if you intend to play movies stored on USB flash disks. Both also do “PC Streaming,” which allows you to view media on Windows file shares. It’s not uPnP but close enough!