Samsung has had an odd relationship with Blu-ray over the years. Although the company has supported the format since it began, it hasn't been as proactive as we expected. Some of the machines it did develop either didn't hit UK shores, or didn't last very long before being superseded.
The good news, then, is that this Samsung BD-P1500 player is dirt cheap. In fact, it's so cheap that there's probably dirt out there that's more expensive. You can get the P1500 online for around £170 at the moment, a bargain compared to most other players on the market.
There is a certain charm about the P1500. It's not the most modern looking player, but it does have slightly rounded edges, giving it an interesting look. There are some bold controls on the front next to a large display which allow you to start and stop playback. Overall, it's quite an attractive machine and will go well with pretty much all modern electronics equipment.
At the back, there are enough outputs to keep all but the most socket-obsessed happy. There is HDMI of course, as well as an Ethernet connection which is used for firmware updates and access to profile 2.0 BD Live material. You also get optical digital audio out and component and even composite video RCA connections. The one thing that isn't present is 5.1 or 7.1 analogue outputs, which is a shame, but hardly a surprise on a 'budget' player.
The supplied remote control is the standard issue Samsung lump, which is long and thin, like a supermodel, but about as attractive as the back end of a baboon, like a supermodel. We didn't mind it too much, but there are some silly button placements, like the 'menu' and 'DVD menu' buttons, which are too close together and easy to confuse. The 'system menu' should have been tucked out of the way in our opinion, as you'll rarely use it.
Audio support on the BD-P1500 is good and as you would imagine the player can output any of the HD audio streams like DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD via HDMI. The one chink in the armour is DTS-HD, which the player won't decode internally. That's really not a massive problem though, especially if you have an AV receiver that can handle these signals.
The BD-P1500 ships as a profile 1.1 player, but there is an update to take it up to profile 2.0 -- all you need to do is plug it into your home network and update the firmware to take advantage of this upgrade for free. This process is very simple, as long as you have some form of wired network in your house, or a router to plug the player into.
Of course, with this being such a sensibly priced piece of hardware, there are no bells and whistles to speak of. It's a very simple and easy-to-use player designed to use for watching movies -- ideal for people who haven't bought a PS3 to watch Blu-ray movies.
To look at the speed of a player, we try to run the same test on all Blu-ray players we review in-house. Using an interactive disc, we time how long it takes to take in a disc and play the opening logo. For this test we use Vanishing Point, and the record so far is with the Sony PS3, with a load and play time of 42 seconds. Happily, the Samsung managed to get a picture on the screen in 1 minute and 9 seconds, which is even faster than Panasonic's DMP-BD35.