As any movie fan knows, sequels are rarely better than the original, but the follow up to Samsung’s BD-P1000 is more The Godfather Part II than Superman 3.  

The Samsung BD-P1400’s feature list is superior to the company’s debut Blu-ray deck, and is bolstered further by a firmware update which we suggest all buyers implement as soon as they can.

Samsung's grand makeover

Bitstream-out audio support extends to both Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, as well as standard Dolby and DTS 5.1. Then there’s an HDMI output with proper 1080p24 support – none of that 1080p to 1080i and back again nonsense that hindered the BD- P1000’s picture quality.

The BD- P1400 has also been given a radical makeover, supplanting the angled lines of the P1000 with a gently curved fascia. The first player design had its fans, but in my opinion, this model looks better.

Flip it 180° and you’re presented with a decent array of sockets. Taking centre stage is the HDMI v1.3 output, which not only delivers 1080p video (including upscaled DVDs) but also routes the hi-res audio bitstreams.  

Couple this player with a new receiver able to decode the audio for the best possible performance. For those without a suitable AVR, there are 5.1- channel analogue outputs which deliver a standard DD 5.1 mix as PCM from Dolby TrueHD, or DTS core.  

Basic Blu-ray features

This is a standard Profile 1.0 player, which means no BonusView for you, my friend. There’s an Ethernet port on the rear, only to be used for software updates and not to access BD-Live features in the future (the deck lacks the necessary hardware to be upgraded to Profile 1.1 or 2.0).

In action the player handles like a tractor, trundling round the setup menu with annoying pauses, and the remote’s button arrangement needs work. But in its defence, disc-loading time is better than we’ve seen on some early players and it takes tricky BD-J menus with only a modicum of complaint.

Visually stunning

Visually, Blu-ray picture quality is excellent, bringing Deja Vu to life on my 52in Full HD screen. The movie’s opening gambit – a ferry exploding in a ball of vivid orange flames and billowing smoke – looks fabulous, while the minute detail of the movie’s New Orleans setting is reproduced with suitable clarity.

But watching the movie at 1080p/24 on a suitably-equipped TV reveals some slightly queasy camera pans, with an occasional stutter that isn’t present in 60Hz mode. This will upset those looking for the smoothest pictures possible.

Standard DVD playback is actually very good, with the player doing a reasonable job of curing jaggies and passing both our horizontal and vertical text crawl tests. It’s a actually a better DVD player than the Panasonic BD30.  

A great budget player

CD playback is functional. Overall then, the Samsung BD-P1400 is a good budget Blu-ray offering, albeit one with caveats.

Those looking for a strong HD picture will be pleased, but its lack of Profile 1.1 support will limit its appeal. Perhaps hang on for its BD-P1500 replacement...