This week we?re reviewing the Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, an entry-level model providing support for 2160p and HDR10 content in addition to audio-video files played via its USB port or network connection. Icing on the cake: a selection of web apps including NetFlix, Plex and Synology’s DS Video?
Samsung UBD-K8500: presentation
The cost of enjoying 4K Ultra High Definition 2160p content is no longer prohibitive. With the UBD-K8500, Samsung delivers an ultra-comprehensive player capable of handling UHD Blu-ray discs as well as 10-bit HDR video. Lacking an analog audio output, this player must rely on the decoder of the TV or home theater receiver to which it is connected. Nonetheless, it meets all the needs of any film or TV show enthusiast. Which is to say that it is able to read all optical discs on the market, in addition to MKV and MP4 files with multiple audio tracks and subtitles.
The Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player?s design doesn’t go unnoticed, with its curved front panel tilted downward. Four buttons placed to the right of its top panel may be used to control the player?s basic functions without reaching for the supplied remote control. The front panel features a Type A USB 3.0 port for users wishing to connect a USB flash drive or hard drive (FAT/NTFS).
Two HDMI outputs situated at the back of the player allow the user to stream video and audio data separately. This can prove itself useful with a home cinema receiver unable to handle 2160p video stream from an Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc, Netflix or YouTube. An optical audio output may be used to connect an older home cinema receiver, a soundbar, or an integrated hi-fi amplifier with a built-in DAC. Two network controllers, one for Wifi and the other for Ethernet, are available.
Samsung UBD-K8500: user interface
The Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player?s graphic interface aims to please, with favorite apps available on the bottom of the home screen. Navigation is smooth (thanks to a quad core processor), and so is returning to the menu once video playback is launched. Accessing audio and video files stored on a USB flash drive is instantaneous and most formats are handled: MKV, M2TS, MP4, VOB, etc. The device?s settings are standard, with audio and video settings for the HDMI outputs. Assistance is provided for an easier network connection (WiFi).
Nothing to criticize, except for the processor?s ventilator which is slightly audible when seated 3 meters away with no soundtrack playing.
Samsung UBD-K8500: applications
The integration of the Netflix app grants the user access to the service?s catalog of films and series in high definition and UHD (with a subscription). Samsung also proposes a number of other apps for download. Owners of a Synology NAS using the Video Station app to index and stream films and TV shows will certainly be happy to be able to install this same app (client) directly onto the Samsung UB-K8500 player. As will users who prefer the Plex ecosystem, as a free Plex app (regularly updated) may be installed. But that?s not all, as VOD and replay services are also available, along with a web browser. The Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player provides about 1.5 GB of storage space for app hosting.
The network connection is used to its full potential with support for the DLNA DMR streaming mode. In other words, Android smartphones and tablets can use the Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player as a playback device (via WiFi). The same goes for computers equipped with DLNA-compatible audio and video playback software.
Samsung UBD-K8500: test conditions
We connected the Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player to an LG OLED65B6V HDR OLED display using a NorStone Jura HDMI cable. Ultra HD Blu-ray films we viewed included The Revenant, Deadpool and Mad Max Fury Road. In addition, we included a few HD and UHD video files in our test, notably Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (HDR 2160p, 45 GB). We also tested 720p and 1080p files stored a Plex server and streamed via Wi-Fi, along with video files streamed from a DLNA server.
Samsung UBD-K8500: viewing impressions
Plenty of contrast, convincing colors, impressive definition, it?s difficult to find fault with the Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player. While it doesn’t offer the impeccable smoothness of an Oppo player (considerably more expensive) for tracking shots and complex scenes, in light of its price this is forgivable?and hardly noticeable. A well-composed image, which gives the user a taste of UHD and HDR technology.
Samsung UBD-K8500: conclusions
What we liked: the image contrast for Blu-ray discs, the selection of web apps, the responsive user interface, the handling of 2160p files, the compact remote control
What we would have liked: smoother playback of highly compressed files, a display on the player?s front panel.
The Samsung UBD-K8500 is a star candidate among entry-level Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Its image, as well as its dependable integration of NetFlix, will earn it fans across the board.