The CES in January 2009 demonstrated that the year will mark the beginning of Blu-ray reaching its potential, thanks to a lot of exciting innovations. Most Blu-ray players in the market are BD enabled and have video-on-demand access, making them even more marvellous. This year Samsung has managed to generate a lot of buzz when the Samsung BD-P4600 was premiered. The obvious headline grabber was its “Touch of Colour” design – translucent red highlights, a glossy black finish and rounded corners. But what is more interesting is the fact this is the world’s first wall-mountable blu-ray player. It has features that beat out competition quite solidly including Wi-Fi compatibility, 1GB onboard memory and Netfix and Pandore streaming. Its price might be a turn off to some users, but it is an excellent player if you do not mind shelling out some more money for its unconventional design.
The one aspect the BDP 4600 differs from the BDP 3600 is its unusual design. At 1.7 inches, it is relatively flat and is amongst the thinnest players in the market. Its aesthetic round corners, glossy finish and translucent red highlights are amazing. The player perches on an included stand on an angle sloping downward. The player lacks hard buttons; instead it has soft touch sensitive buttons which light up when the player is switched on. When power is unplugged, it appears to be completely button-less and smooth. Because the player is slim, it lacks an ordinary standard disc tray. Instead, it features a slot design system on the side of the system (similar to the PS3).
Under the unit, are the connectivity ports. They are relatively lesser in number because of the lesser space on the unit. It lacks multichannel analogue outputs and component video outputs. However, there are a HDMI output, an optical digital audio output, composite video/stereo outputs and an Ethernet port. There is also a USB port and a power port, the latter is in the compartment, leading to external power supply. That is a reason why this player is so slim.
Its wall mount ability is evident in its rulebook – rewriting design, making it an attention grabbing high deck. The deck comes along with hardware for its wall mounting which is where the slim design rules. On the deck’s front panel are a row of touch sensitive buttons and a small display panel that shows the elapsed time. So, is it worth to shell out more money for a better design? If you think a wall mountable blu-ray player is cool, then this is perfect for you. If you are not fascinated by design, there is the cheaper BDP 3600.
The remote of the BD-P4600 Blu Ray Disc Player is a tremendously better designed than its previous players. It has an alluring gloss finish and is probably inspired by the Panasonic models. Its design is pretty much similar to the remotes of the BDP 1600 and BDP 3600. It has big chunky buttons, an intuitive layout and is well labelled. The numeric buttons are at the top of the remote control and the play back functions are right under it. The channel and volume buttons are in the middle of the remote control and the BD J disc buttons at the bottom. The BD J buttons are colour coded in red, yellow, green and blue and each have their special features. There is also a separate button for subtitles and audio. However, important buttons like the Pop-up Menu, Title Menu and the Disc menu could have been more strategically placed. There also could have been easy access buttons for NetFlix and Pandora.
Perhaps, the real strength of a Samsung model is its ability to support a huge range of formats. DivX and DivX HD files can be played using either the USB port or on a DVD. The Non DivX files can be read even from a CD and JPEG, JPEG HD, HD and MP3 files can be read from USBs, Hard drives, DVDs and CDs.
The BD-P4600 Slim Blu Ray DVD Player is compatible with every HD formats from 1.0 to 7.1 channels, which it can produce HDMI output ready to send to you Television. It supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, and DTS-HD Master Audio Essential. As mentioned early, it lacks an analogue multi-channel audio output; however, it handles audio formats as a bit stream.
An impressive feature of the BD-P4600 Blu-ray player is its PC Streaming. When the P4600 joins a network, be it wired or wireless, it can search other computers to find MP3, JPEG and DivX files. Something similar to what the DLNA offers, though not the same guarantee of success.
Netflix and Pandora Interfaces:
NetFlix allows you to stream over a large number of movies and TV episodes anytime you want to.In the Netflix interface, the instant queue is arranged horizontally on the screen. Like on a computer, you need to find movies and them on the instant queue. That is how you do it on all Netflix Instant Streaming devices, including the Netflix player by Roku, to which the Netflix interface s bears similarity.
Pandora is a free Internet radio service that allows you to program stations to be able to listen to your favourite music. Pandora’s interface is very simple, easy to use and full access is possible from the onscreen menu. Samsung could try going a step further by offering a larger album art images and more information on the artists.
With the BD-P4600 Full HD Blu-Ray playback Player, you can access Internet using Wi-Fi. But for that you need to buy an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi dongle, which Samsung sells separately. This is one area where LG and Sony fall behind, they do not offer this feature. However, the model has problems connecting through Wi-Fi. It fails to connect to a network sometimes and we think that the Ethernet port is a more valid option to surf the Internet.
Profile 2.0 Compliant:
The Samsung BD P4600 is Profile 2.0 compliant, which means you can receive extra features like sub-titles in other languages, additional terminals, film trailers, game endings and other bonuses. It offers consumer access to different places on DVD and other Blu-ray offers. However, there has not been great content on BD Live as of yet. Hopefully, Samsung will try providing more features. There is a 1 GB in-built Memory provided to store all the downloads from BD Live.
The BD P4600 delivers rewarding hi-def pictures and can play every track available on Blu-ray, with Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio inside the player and delivered over HDMI It handles colours with a deft hand, while managing to convey gentle and soft tones effectively and stronger colours with deep saturation equally good. The colours are punchy; however, the player seems to struggle on certain occasions to keep motion under control. The GUI is impressive, while it is not as good as the Sony’s Xross Media Bar., it still is reasonably fast and the graphics are crisp and vivid.
There is sufficient vividity to skin tones and the edges are well marshaled and the field depth is acceptable. However, the overall depth and sharpness of the image is not as impressive as some other players and the movement is not exactly smooth- there is consistent juddering. It offers clear and a radiant presentation; however some shots show minor flickering as well. Chapter skipping was slower than its counterpart the BD 3600. The Silicon Optix HQV Disc instantly detects the correct cadences on the Film and Resolution Loss tests and reproduces them as rotating bar patterns.
Overall, the playback is fine, with its high levels of colour and detail and its low noise levels.
Speed wise, it is a strong performer managing to take only 18 seconds to power on and load times for Java intensive Blu-ray discs were equally impressive. The PS3 might be faster, but it would not matter much to an ordinary user.
When it comes to upscaling, The BD-P4600 manages to upscale the DVD with similar competence. There is picture noise but the DVD clarity is fine when upscaled to 1080p. The BDP 4600 seemed to be picky about its HDMI handshake when linked to a screen or a multichannel receiver. Another drawback is the fact that sound is just satisfactory; it does not have a low frequency presence or dynamic potency to make the most of great action films. The CD playback reminds you of highly compressed MP3 playback.
The BDP 4600 consumes less energy. It uses a mere one watt when on standby and 16 watts while watching movies.
The Samsung BDP 4600 comes with a warranty of one year from the date of purchase.
The USP of the Samsung BDP 4600 is its wall mount-ability. It might not be what most people are looking for, but if you want your Blu-ray player to look as good as the picture quality it delivers, this is a fine choice. The Blu-ray playback is great; however, upscaling is just not one of the model’s strengths. It has good streaming capabilities and offers Internet Access through WI-FI. The inbuilt memory of 1 GB and good loading times are added bonuses. The remote design and the picture quality could have been way better. It is very similar to the Samsung BD P3600, and lacks a 7.1 channel analogue output which is present on the BD P3600.But, if you do not mind shelling out a few more pounds for its design; the player would not disappoint you.
Samsung BD-P4600 Blu-Ray player – Technical Specification Table
|Product Type||Blu-Ray Disc Player|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||18.2” x 1.7” x 7.7”|
|Form factor||Table top and Wall Mountable|
|Number of disc trays||One|
|Features||Includes Wi-Fi adapter, 1GB internal storage|
|Connectivity||Analogue Audio Out, Coaxial/Optical Digital Audio Ouptut,
Composite Video Output, HDMI, SPDIF Digital Output, WLAN
|Sound Output||Supports Dolby Digital, DTS, True HD, DTS HD, Digital Plus|
|Sound System||Dolby True HD, DTS 2.0 + Digital out, DTS, Dolby Digital|
|Playable Formats||H.264, MPEG 2, VC-1|
|Decoding formats||VC-1, MPEG2, H.264, HD JPEG, MP3 and DivX|
|EasyLink||One touch play, One touch standby|
|Digital audio format||Dolby Digital output|
|BD-Live(1GB USB memory needed)||Yes|
|Additional Information||Supports Netflix streaming (USA), PiP, Blu-ray Profile 2.0,
DVD upscaling to 1080p
|Functional Features||Pop Up Menu, Macrovision 7.0, Closed Caption and BD-JAVA|
|Rear Connections||HDMI output, Component Video output, Digital coaxial out,
Composite video (CVBS) output, Analog audio Left/Right out,
Ethernet, USB:firmware upgrade & BD-Live
|Outputs||Composite x 1, HDMI x 1, Analog Audio x 1,
Digital Audio Coaxial x 1, Digital Audio Optical x 1