Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Samsung BD-P3600 Blu-ray player
A high-end Samsung Blu-ray player boasting 1GB of inbuilt storage and Wi-Fi support
- Impressive image quality, Wi-Fi support, eye-catching design
- Unconventional button placement, Wi-Fi requires a USB dongle, could be just a little bit cheaper
The Samsung BD-P3600 is a quirky yet stylish Blu-ray player that exudes a lot of charm. It comes with plenty of high-end features for AV enthusiasts, while remaining simple and user-friendly. On the downside, the Sony PlayStation 3 offers many of the same features and costs the same.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
It was not so long ago that a top-of-the-range Blu-ray player would set you back $2500 or more. Now, you can snap up the feature-packed Samsung BD-P3600 for under $500 — and still consider it to be a bit pricey. Times sure have changed. Equipped with all the latest “must-have” Blu-ray features, including YouTube access, DivX support, on-board storage (1GB) and wireless connectivity, the Samsung BD-P3600 is a solid choice for discerning videophiles.
Like most high-end players, the Samsung BD-P3600 boasts on-board decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plus 7.1 analog outputs for older receivers.
With its ultra-curvy body and unconventional button layout, the Samsung BD-P3600 is definitely eye-catching. We’re used to reviewing the same sleek black oblongs with glossy fascias, so it’s refreshing to see something a bit different on the shelves. That said, we’re not sure about the placement of the touch-sensitive playback controls — instead of being at the front of the device, they’re situated on top. This could prove problematic if you plan to slot your Blu-ray player in to a snug home-theatre cavity. On the plus side, the remote control is decently sized and worked a charm throughout testing. The playback buttons also glow in the dark: a very helpful touch. We were equally impressed with the menu layout, which is straightforward and functional.
One of the Samsung BD-P3600’s main draw cards is the inclusion of Wi-Fi. The advantage offered by wireless connectivity is crystal clear: it means you don’t have to run unwieldy Ethernet cables from your network router to your Blu-ray player. Instead, you simply plug in the wireless dongle, follow the wizard prompts and connect to your network -- voila. You can then download BD Live content, view YouTube clips or access compatible media from networked hard drives — all with a few presses of your remote. (Unfortunately, cool US features like Blockbuster movie rentals and Pandora music downloads are not currently supported in Australia. Tch.)
Unlike the Sony BDP-S760 Blu-ray player or LG BD390 Network Player, the Samsung BD-P3600 does not come with inbuilt Wi-Fi. Instead, you need to use the wireless dongle included in the sales package. The results are essentially the same, with one exception — you can’t misplace inbuilt Wi-Fi. (In short: don’t lose your dongle!) Naturally, an Ethernet port is also included for wired connections.
To test the Samsung BD-P3600’s imaging performance, we connected it to a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV and watched the Jack Black/Michael Cerra abomination Year One (incidentally, this disc was sent out to us by another vendor to test their Blu-ray products — proof positive that the industry hates journalists). Despite the grim ‘comedy’ on show, we had to admit that the film’s picture quality was truly exquisite. The Samsung BD-P3600 did a great job at rendering complex textures, with plenty of fine detail in rolling sand dunes and dense foliage. We could even make out individual whiskers in Jack Black’s thicket of face-fur, despite it being dark brown. The Year One disc took around 40 seconds to load, which is about average.
We then popped in our standard-definition DVD of The Matrix and watched the famous lobby scene. While the drop in quality was obvious, the Samsung BD-P3600 still did a pretty good job of upscaling the footage to 1080p. We’ve seen better ‘lobby scene’ results from rival Blu-ray players, but the difference is marginal. All up, we were sufficiently impressed with the BD-P3600's video performance. We’d give it a B+.
In fact, our only serious reservation has to do with the current RRP. Despite being cheap by yesteryear’s standards, the Samsung BD-P3600 is a little pricey for 2010. Indeed, you could pick up a Sony PlayStation 3 with a couple of games for the same price. The Sony PlayStation 3 plays Blu-ray discs proficiently, and also comes with free inbuilt wireless. Nevertheless, if you’re strictly after a Blu-ray device that offers some useful features, the Samsung BD-P3600 shouldn't disappoint.
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