Ratings in depth

Samsung BD-H6500 Design 3/5
Samsung BD-H6500 features 4/5
Samsung BD-H6500 Performance 4/5
Samsung BD-H6500 usability 4/5
Samsung BD-H6500 value 4/5

What's the most important innovation in home entertainment in recent months?

No, it's not smart apps or 4K upscaling, but the spread of the dual core processor. Happily, Samsung's BD-H6500, which is selling for £129.95 (US£209.99, AUS$169) (though being heavily discounted already) has all of that and more besides, as it makes a bid to be one of the best value smart Blu-ray decks around.

A regular gloss black box except for a heavily curved corner that builds-in a touch-sensitive array of buttons. There's a USB slot on the front alongside a disc tray that spins all kinds of discs – including both 2D and 3D Blu-ray. On the rear is a HDMI output, an optical digital audio output and Ethernet LAN, though the 360 x 40 x 196mm (14.17 x 1.5 x 7.7 inch) BD-H6500 also includes Wi-Fi. DLNA networking and basic screen mirroring for Samsung devices is also included.

Samsung BD-H6500

Get online and the BD-H6500 feeds apps into its Smart Hub page, which constitutes a remarkably concise user interface.

The Films & TV Shows panel of available streaming video content is perhaps too dominant. It's flanked by a Play Disc window for whatever disc is inside the BD-H6500's tray on one side, and by smaller panels for connected USB/DLNA devices, and Samsung Apps, on the other.

Below runs a few Recommended Apps and My Apps, though oddly no headline apps are included here – in the UK version of the BD-H6500 I found only apps like Facebook, Vimeo and vTuner.

It's a tad underwhelming, and though I managed to dive into a separate grid page of Samsung Apps, there I only found AccuWeather, Facebook and vTuner in Recommended and, in My Apps, just a stodgy web browser alongside Vimeo, Yupp TV, Dailymotion,

YouTube and – once again – AccuWeather. I had to visit the online store to download a few more interesting UK-centric apps, such as the 4OD, ITV Player and Demand Five, as well as Netflix and Amazon Instant. But even when I did that, they simply queued-up behind all of those second-rate apps on the Samsung Apps grid. Fetching the app you want is slow process.

Samsung BD-H6500

I'm slightly confused as to why the BD-H6500 wants to hide arguably its main attractions. During this review the BBC iPlayer app was missing, though were sure it's simply undergoing an update and will soon return; the BBC News app did just that during the review.

Performance

Apps load relatively quickly and navigating the BD-H6500's user interface is speedy. Better still, the BD-H6500 manages to load a disc in about seven seconds. The remote is nothing special, but it's not overcrowded and the disc-specific buttons do glow in the dark, which is a great idea.

Samsung BD-H6500

Picture parameters can be tweaked if you put the BD-H6500 into User mode (sharpness, contrast and brightness, etc.), though I found the deck's default Movie preset to be excellent.

During playback of a disc there are all kinds of options available within the Blu-ray player itself. A drop-down menu in the top-right corner includes options to change the picture mode (Movie, Standard or Dynamic), select a scene, skip to a chapter or play the disc from the beginning.

Picture quality

Sadly the BD-H6500 didn't play any of the native 'pro-res' 4K MOV files or compressed MP4 versions I had on a USB stick, which is a bit of a shame for a so-called 4K-capable deck (especially as Samsung's 4K TVs manage to play the MP4 versions).

However, the 4K upscaling of Blu-ray does appear to be a feature worth investing in here. Don't expect wonders – the image still looks a tad soft compared to native 4K material – but during our test conducted with a Samsung Ultra HD telly, Gravity looked plenty detailed and really clean.

Samsung BD-H6500

Motion scenes, such as when Dr Stone spins towards and then past the camera on her way into deep space, look decidedly DVD-like in their softness on a massive 4K TV. I also noticed quite of lot of picture noise in a bright areas of the upscaled footage that aren't there when viewed on a regular Full HD TV. That said, Gravity is highly watchable on a 55-inch Ultra HD screen.

On a regular Full HD or '2K' TV (as we should probably now call them), Gravity in 2D looks fantastic, and in 3D produces contrast-heavy images and impressive depth effects without any trace of crosstalk.