samsung bd-d6900

Using Iron Man 2 as a test disc, the Samsung BD-D6900 delivers excellent 2D picture quality.

The image boasts almost clinical levels of detail sharpness and bright, punchy colours that make the Iron Man suit look richer and redder than ever before.

Skin tones also look natural, but it's the subtle shading and delicate detail within those tones that really make them believable. Edge definition is razor sharp, with no stepping or ugly pixel noise to cloud the clarity, and with 1080/24p output engaged there's precious little judder as Iron Man and other fast-moving objects jet around the screen.

It also fares well with trickier video evaluation Blu-ray discs such as Silicon Optix's HQV – the diagonal filter test, which shows a white bar moving within a circle against a black background, shows no evidence of 'stepping' along its edges, while the Video Resolution Loss test card is smooth and stable.

Only the Film Resolution Loss test gives any cause for concern – the strobing boxes reveal the deck has trouble converting video from 1080i back to 1080/24p, but that's of no consequence if you mostly watch movies.

Flipping over to the 3D Blu-ray version of Avatar – viewed on the awesome Panasonic TX-P46VT20 plasma – the BD-D6900 is equally assured when handling 3D material. Essentially the player is just passing on the pixels to the TV digitally, but it does so without any flaws at all.

The resulting pictures are absolutely spellbinding, particularly during the 'First Sortie' chapter when the camera glides past flying creatures and scenery. The various layers are depicted with amazing depth, sharpness and fluidity, making the whole 3D experience incredibly believable.

Then as the helicopter touches down in the forest, the way the image stretches from the flapping ferns in the foreground to the background glimpsed through gaps in the trees is mesmerising.

And the 2D to 3D conversion is better than you might expect. It works better with some material than others – digital TV doesn't scrub up well in three dimensions – but with Iron Man 2 you can certainly make out the different layers being added by the player, adding a distinct element of depth to the image.

It's by no means as good as real 3D and the processing introduces a slightly gauzy effect, but on the whole it's not a bad effort. And with the 2D version of Avatar the results are almost as good as the real thing, thanks to its clearer 3D cues that are easier for the player to pick up.

Digital TV pictures are as good as you'd expect – bold and brightly-coloured but beset by the usual shimmering and edge noise that few receivers manage to side-step. It's at its best with Freeview HD channels such as BBC One HD – flagship shows like Eastenders, Human Planet and Holby City look stunning, melding punchy detail with rich, natural colours that benefit from smooth tonal gradation.

Standard def channels look scruffier, with greater levels of block and mosquito noise, but remain perfectly watchable, and when recorded onto USB memory picture quality is identical.