- Low price
- Good picture and sound quality
- Good upscaling DVD player when connected with an HDMI cable
- Ethernet connection for firmware upgrades
- A bit noisy on startup
- Slower to load than some players
- Requires the addition of an external USB drive for Blu-ray Live features
- Tech knowledge helps because firmware upgrades have dated the in-box manual
Overall impression: These days, you have a lot of choices in Blu-ray players, ranging from Sony’s PlayStation 3, which is also an excellent gaming system, to new units that can stream music and high-definition video as well as play discs. Versatility is nice, but if you’re not interested in extras, you can do a lot worse than Samsung’s BDP-1500. The player isn’t loaded with features, but it is a quality movie machine that delivers pristine Blu-ray images and also does a fine job upscaling DVD movies. In most cases, the latter feature is only available if the player is connected to your television with an HDMI cable.
I’ve been using the BDP-1500 for several weeks and have found it to be a satisfying basic player on almost every level. The unit is a little noisy on startup and takes awhile to load discs, but it’s not so slow as to be problematic. Although the BDP-1500 was originally a Profile 1.1 player, it is upgradeable to Profile 2.0 thanks to an Ethernet port that allows constant firmware upgrades. The Ethernet connection also allows the player to take advantage of BD-Live content, but users need to add a 1GB USB memory stick to enable that feature.
Because Samsung has made significant system improvements since the player was boxed, it is necessary to upgrade the firmware as quickly as possible. This is easy to do, but getting the most out of the player requires the user to be at least a little tech savvy because the in-box instructions are outdated. A newer version of the instruction manual is available on Samsung’s Web site.
Connections: The BDP-1500 can be connected to a television with an HDMI cable, component cables or a composite video cable. It also has a digital audio out for those who want to connect the player to an audio-visual amplifier that doesn’t have HDMI inputs.
Appearance: The BDP-1500 is sleek, black and glossy, with only a few buttons on the faceplate. In short, it is an extremely attractive piece of home-theater gear that blends nicely with other black components.
Remote: The remote is oversized in comparison to most home theater controllers – and a bit too long for my taste – but the buttons are easy to find and intuitive to use. The remote can also be programmed to control the power, volume and a handful of other features on some televisions. I was not, however, able to program it to control my new Panasonic TC-32LX14, so this feature has flaws.