Samsung BD-C7500 Review and Samsung Apps

1. Introduction

Without a doubt, Samsung BD-C7500 looks really nice. Described as the world’s slimmest Blu-ray player BD-C7500 brings not only good looks in the equation but also a large set of media streaming features, a fast boot time and a plethora of web clients thanks to Samsung Apps store, the first store by my knowledge to offer applications to run on both TV and media streaming boxes / Blu-ray players. Let’s not forget that Apple TV doesn’t support applications and Google TV’s Android Marketplace compatibility will only arrive next year.

While Blu-ray capabilities of today’s players are fairly good and I doubt many of us could perceive differences in the output quality, especially on a HDMI connection, the media streaming and web clients implementation differ wildly, and this is what makes the subject of today’s review. The screenshot and observations should apply to all Samsung 2010 Blu-ray players and connected TVs implementing Samsung Apps. Most of the Samsung TVs released in 2010 support Samsung Apps and all of Samsung’s new Blu-ray players including BD-C8000, BD-C7900, BD-C6900, BD-C6800,  BD-C5900, BD-C7500, BD-C6500 and BD-C5500.

2. Samsung BD-C7500 Unpacking and Design


Describing BD-C7500 as one of the slimmest Blu-ray Players around is not an exaggeration with just 1.1 inches tall. The box is black, extra glossy with a piano like finish. The box is obviously designed to be mounted on a wall (although you can use it in a normal position as well). Any way you mount it, be sure to leave enough space on the left because the disc try will slide  that way (including the whole upper side). The additional lenght while fully opened is an extra 6 inches (for a total of 21.75″) so be sure to keep this in mind when you install it.

3. Tech Specs

Features: BD Live™, HDMI CEC, Progressive Scan, Samsung Apps Platform, BD Wise™, AllShare™

Audio: Dolby Digital Decoder, Dolby Digital Plus Decoder, Dolby True HD Decoder, DTS Decoder, DTS HD Decoder, DTS Output
Video: HD Upconversion, 1080p Full HD Picture Quality, Ultra-Fast Play
Wireless Connectivity: Wi-fi Ready (w/ included LinkStick™ adapter)
Inputs and Outputs: 2 Channel Audio Output, 1 HDMI Output, Optical Digital Audio Outputs, 1 USB 2.0
Local Storage: 1 GB Local Storage
Video CODECS and formats:
MPEG2, H.264, VC-1, AVCHD, DIVX HD, MKV, MP4, WMV9, 3GPP, HD JPEG
Blu ray video, BD-R/RE, DVD video, DVD/DVD +/-R, DVD +/- RW, CD/CD-R/CD-RW, USB storage
Dimensions (W x H x D): 16.54″ x 1.3″ x 6.89″

Note: If you want to transform the Samsung BD-C7500 into a region free device, follow the following instructions:

1. Remove the disk from the tray (if any), turn the player off and on again

2. When the boot process is completed, push the REPEAT key (above the channel key)

3.Enter the code for your specific region. The region code will appear on the screen, top left position

4. Save the new region code by pushing 9 (it might need several tries)

5. Open / close the tray, reboot (power down, then up)

6. Enjoy

7. Here are the codes for all the regions

Region 1:  2 9 3 3 4
Region 2:  5 7 5 3 8
Region 3:  5 6 7 3 2
Region 4:  7 6 8 8 4
Region 5:  5 3 8 1 4
Region 6:  2 4 4 6 2

For more info about various DVD regions, see our post.

4. Details and Screenshots

4.1 Initial Set-up

The initial Set-up is very easy, just plug-it in, connect it to your TV with the HDMI cable and you are in business. If you want the media streaming functionality as well, you’ll have to connect it to your network, either wired or wirelessly (wireless adapter integrated, unlike many other boxes). If you have a long WPA / WPA2 key, inputing it is a tad slow from the remote control, but hopefully you don’t have to do it too often.

The user interface is very polished, a step above most of other boxes coming from the competition with warm color and good navigation. It even beats the recently launched Google TV in my opinion, however it doesn’t include a web browser.

4.2 Software Update

Most of the time it is a good idea to upgrade your firmware to the latest version which should be the most stable available. However, hiccups happen and at some point, it looks like Samsung made a blunder updating the player to the version 1015.2 which was available for a short amount of time and then withdrawn. Users who updated their players during that window experienced technical difficulties and cannot downgrade / upgrade again since the current version is 1010.4 (lower number). It might be a good idea to turn off automatic updates and manually upgrade after you read the reports around the web.

5. Web Clients

With Samsung Apps, Samsung is the first audio / video manufacturer to show some commitment continuously supporting the firmware embedded in their devices and build upon it. BD-C7500 user interface is nice and polished, the web clients are quite numerous (including streaming from the top movie providers – Blockbuster, Netflix, VUDU), YouTube, Picasa, etc. There are even apps to support Google maps, Pandora, AccuWeather and USA today. More are expected to come, including FaceBook (which is not ready yet but has an icon available in the app store all the same, announcing it – a little bit misleading).

5.1 Netflix

There is not much we can say about BD-C7500 Netflix support other than it works well but it only supports your queue. I could definitely use a better version that includes movie categories and maybe even search. Netflix should push all manufacturers to update their Netflix clients to keep certain implementation standards across the platforms.

5.2 Blockbuster

Blockbuster implementation is much better than Netflix on this player with categories and movie search available. The navigation is fast and the setup is a breeze. Too bad we are unsure about Blockbuster future with its recent bankruptcy  filling, but we can only hope the online portion of the company will survive. A little (or more) competition is what drive a company to innovate.

5.3 VUDU

Historically VUDU had one of the best streaming clients available with a fast navigation and HD only content all around and BD_C7500 doesn’t disappoint either.

5.4 Google Maps

Interestingly enough, there is an application for Google maps, although I cannot see anybody using it too often. Is slow as hell and we all know how much of a chore is to input text using a remote control…

5.5 AccuWeather

Simple and clean interface, useful for a quick check without getting up from the couch 😉

5.6 Rovi TV Listings

Not sure why you would use it if you have a cable / satellite box but if you don’t, you can probably find it useful. Or maybe you just want a quick check of what’s on TV without switching…

5.7 USA Today

USA Today is available via an eye-candy application and it is obviously optimized for the big screen. I would just wish to have more providers available and maybe even an RSS reader.

5.8 YouTube

BD-C7500 offers a really nice YouTube implementation, better than most media players I have ever seen. You can log-in to your account and see your favorite movies or browse the main YouTube categories.

5.9 Pandora

Pandora app has a very solid implementation with nice graphics and displays the past songs you listened to. You can also create  / delete a station right from the UI or just choose a quick mix.

5.10 Picasa

5.11 Twitter Client

Simple client that works reasonably well. The first time to log-in it might pop-up an error message if it didn’t have enough time to load your message list but after that it works well enough.

5.12 UPnP / DLNA Support

This is what makes the box really useful, especially if you store your media on a DLNA supporting NAS / home server. BD-C7500 plays well with PlayOn and PS3 Media server and can access additional TV content including HULU via PlayOn DLNA server. Playing large files over network, especially MKVs at 1080p can be problematic but fortunately we have a USB port available as well. In terms of codec support, I can’t complain, the box solidly played every format I had available (DIVX, XVID, 1080p content, Dolby Digital, DTS, MKV, subtitles, etc).

PlayOn

PS3 Media Server

5.13 Samsung Apps

Samsung has already a respectable amount of applications in their store both free and paid (check Samsung’s website for the full list). For the paid ones, the price is usually around $0.99 and the list include games and some educational ones as well, more than 100 available to date. Not bad and we can only hope most of them will be backward compatible when Samsung’s  next year TV / Blu-ray players line is launched.

6. Remote Control

7. Conclusion

Samsung BD-C7500 is a nice little player that will look well mounted on a wall under your TV. If you need to install it in your home theater rack, you can still do it but you need to consider the size while fully extended. The support for Samsung Apps and wide web client availability makes it a good box to gather the family together. The Blu-ray quality is very good and the user interface probably the best I have seen to date.

Reliability wise, some clients are not so well implemented as I would like and will hang the system occasionally. A quick restart will solve this but why do we need that? (Hint: it is software and fated to crash 😉 ). The current price as of today is $264 at Amazon with no taxes and free shipping.
7.1 Pros:

  • beautiful design
  • integrated WiFi
  • large codec support
  • DLNA
  • good web client support (Netflix, Blockbuster, Twitter, VUDU, Pandora, etc)
  • Samsung Apps, the most advanced app store for Blu-ray players and connected TVs to date
  • 7.2 Cons:

    • no component outputs (doesn’t bother me but it might bother others)
    • ancient Netflix client (is almost 2011 people, show me at least the main categories if not search…)
    • No HDMI cable included (come on…stop trying to save those 25 cents per unit…I know it adds up but still…)
    • stability
    • no Internet Browser or at least a RSS reader

    8. Gallery

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