Samsung BD-E8500A Blu-ray/PVR

The Samsung BD-E8500A offers smooth TV and disc video performance with perhaps the best set of "smart" features available


8.1
CNET Rating
2.4
User Rating

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Samsung's BD-A8500A delivers movies from disc, but also incorporates a 500GB twin tuner PVR. It's well built — weighing a decent 3.2 kilograms, and its design quite attractive.

It has a perfectly adequate remote for normal use, but as a smart unit, it may be better suited to homes that are largely in the Android eco-system — specifically the Samsung one — rather than in iOS. For example, there are features that are simply too much of a pain to use without a better interface than what is provided by the standard remote control, and while there is an Android app, there appears to be none for iOS.

The output facilities are basic, as is the norm these days. Just the barest minimum of analog (stereo audio and composite video) and one HDMI. But new media is supported with front and rear USB sockets. The manual, weirdly, says that you need to use the front USB for persistent storage for BD-Live operation. That's wrong. A 2GB space is reserved on the hard disk for this purpose.

Playing discs

For Blu-rays and DVDs, the unit is practical and fast. It uses a slot type disc loader, which seemed to grab the disc gently, but firmly, and was quick to eject it again when you hit the button. There is a row of touch sensitive spots on the front panel for control.

The picture quality was generally very good, but not state of the art. No problems with regular Blu-ray discs, but some content on 1080i50 movie discs and on Australian DVDs tricked the processing into thinking it was video-sourced rather than film-sourced, generating visual artefacts. You can set the film/video detection to video or to auto, but not to film, which would have overcome this.

Still, most discs played without this visual problem, and it is so common anyway that many viewers are inured to it.

Smart features

Samsung's "Smart Hub" page is the centrepiece of its internet-based functions. A few things are installed on this, but you can add many more via the "Samsung Apps" page. This is divided into categories, all of which are reasonably well populated. For example, under "Sports" there are seven apps.

There are kids' games, Twitter and Facebook (although, I couldn't get that one to work), Samsung's music player, which provides access to lots of music for free — so long as you only want to hear the first thirty seconds of each track. There are about 30 video-streaming apps, including YouTube, Vimeo, BBC News and so on, plus ABC iView, and SBS On Demand for catch-up, but there is no catch-up service for commercial Australian TV stations yet. Though, these things are being updated all the time.

As a test, we downloaded one of the two Australian-focused sports apps: the BigPond NRL Game Analyser (replace NRL with AFL for the other one). When you're doing this, a "Memory Usage" bar on the screen shows that a total memory of a little under 800MB was available. This app uses about 3.5MB. Facebook uses 6.7MB.

The app allows you to jump to all the highlights (scoring plays, errors, fouls, penalties and so on) shown in streaming video (you can select one of three qualities, depending on your connection). It covers all games in four competitions (including State of Origin) for 2010, 2011 and 2012, and will work for 2013 and on as they are played. When people talk about interactive TV — this is the real deal.

Use of Bigpond apps is unmetered for those who use Bigpond as their ISP. Likewise, Bigpond Movies — which isn't cheap to watch streamed — is unmetered. If you prefer, you can sign up with Quickflix for its pay-per-view service.

While we whinged before about lack of support for iOS, you can use features that require text entry quite easily by just plugging in a cheap USB keyboard.

Other stuff

The biggie feature in this unit is the twin tuner PVR. There really isn't a lot to say about this. It worked, it worked smoothly and the quality was fine. And with a 500GB hard disk, you ought to have plenty of capacity.

If we were in charge of Samsung, we'd make two small changes. First, the unit should ask for confirmation before stopping recording when you hit the Stop button. Second, it'd be nice if the unit could be set to buffer whatever video you're watching continuously, rather than having to be invoked (by pressing the Pause key.) If you do remember to hit Pause and then Play, then at any time, you can rewind live TV up to 90 minutes.

The unit supports DLNA media from your network and also plays media from USB. It covers lots of formats, but is a little tricky. It happily supported some high resolution FLAC music files, but internally, it converted 96kHz and 192kHz sample rates down to 44.1kHz (which is CD standard). If you want a real high resolution audio player, this isn't it. (Note: we switched off PCM downsampling in the menus, and it did deliver two channel 96kHz PCM from DVD without alteration).

The best thing about this unit is that it did all it was supposed to do quite quickly and smoothly, with no sense of gears grinding away beneath the surface. Our only real reservation is that it's a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than some competing devices.

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IT_Scooter
4
Rating
 

"Great, but one annoying fault"

IT_Scooter posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great for watching TV, DVDs

The Bad:CONSISTENTLY freezes about 32 mins into the 2nd episode on disc 2 of ANY series

Generally, a great unit, BUT when trying to watch ANY series on DVD, it CONSISTENTLY freezes about 32 mins into the 2nd episode on disc 2. I have had this happen watching Doctor Who

AnotherRat
2
Rating
 

"Stay away.... don't buy."

AnotherRat posted a review   
Australia

The Good:It promised to be good, but it lied

The Bad:Screen black out. Unit freezes. Unit is slow.

i have 2 problems with this device.

1. It freezes and you need to power the device off by holding the touch panel power button for a few seconds and then turn it back on to use it.

2. While watching TV/Recordings/Bluray etc. the screen blacks out intermittantly for a few seconds at a time.

I have updated the firmware (a few time, at least they release firmware updates) and have returned this unit for warranty repairs but after over a month being 'repaired' the same faults are still present.

I would strongly advise people not to but this unit.

 

thislo posted a comment   
Australia

Time for me to eat some humble pie. Before taking this unit back I tried one last thing - changed the HDMI cable to the TV. No logical reason to do so but it was the only thing I hadn't tried and I had used an old HDMI cable. All the problems have stopped! Still don't understand why, but is now working perfectly. It still has its frustrations (EPG is the worst problem) but they don't seem nearly as bad on a totally relable machine. I'd probably give it a 7/8 now.

thislo
1
Rating
 

"Great idea, lousy implementation"

thislo posted a review   
Australia

The Good:The idea and its supposed specifications, nothing else

The Bad:Everything

I read the negative reviews but decided I needed 'the idea'. I was sure that I could cope with complexity and irrationality of the command sequences and the limitations of the TV Guide, but these things do become very irritating over time. The software also compulsorily updates at peak viewing times - just tough if you are in the middle of a downloading movie because you have no choice but to wait up to an hour for the update - and nothing ever seems any better after the update!!! It has always been overly prone to crashing - meaning you have to turn it off and on again at the socket, going through maddening command sequences to get back to what you were viewing. Now media from both wifi and external disks is breaking up constantly until ultimately it crashes again and you have to reboot (both work fine on my PC in which is further away from my modem). Its going back and I'm hoping they will allow me to replace it with something else, as I don't want to re engage in another battle with this thing.

 

MarkT14 posted a comment   

I have had BD-E8500A for 8 months now. As a Blu-Ray player it's great. As a PVR and HD topset box its very average!!! Picture quality is low, schedule record timer and menus are painful to use. Samsungs smart hub is useless. Only has ABC iView and SBS on demand (no channel 7, 9 & 10)This unit is always updating but no improvements have been seen in 8 months.I have seen the Panasonic PVR in action, and that's what I will get next time, Way better!!!!

 

GlennH2 posted a comment   

Just to correct what i posted. I own the Samsung BD-F8500A/XY.

 

GlennH2 posted a comment   

Very Dissapointed.

After doing my research and getting sucked into the "Access your own content" hype, i bought this to supplement my Dvico Tvix to use as access to my own content over my own network from my NAS.

MISTAKE is all i can say.

Unless Samsung comes up with a firmware for this now essential feature then i feel this would be one of those not so useful convergance devices.

As a Bluray player it should be great. but to have to use Samsung Link to access your own content on your own NAS you need to have Link running on a PC to access it.

Kind of defeats the purpose. What year are we living in ?
Great moove Samsung

cambalzer
4
Rating
 

"So tedious to use, I'm replacing it"

cambalzer posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Perfect interface to a Samsung TV with one remote

The Bad:Useless menus, clumsy, and dysfunctional

I bought this to replace a Panasonic that I suffered for one week before returning it because it was impossible to drive ( I have a uni degree in electrical engineering).
I was initially releived that it interfaced with the Samsung TV beautifully, but the recording and playback menus are also incredibly tedious and confusing, with multi button pushes for simple functions.
Also the TV guide is incredibly slow - reboots every time you look at it, and often cant read the program schedules.
Otherwise it has been reliable.
The picture quality through the PVR is slightly worse than the raw TV.

I'm finally fed up with the tedium of trying to set the recording, and still loosing the last five minutes of almost every show.

ChestyBonds
1
Rating
 

"Piece of JUNK"

ChestyBonds posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Works well with TV

The Bad:Freezes, Region Locked, Recording/playback is NOT simple

There is no way to allow flow on recordings....unless you record the next program as well - then you lose part due to stopping and next program starting. You are unable to delete recordings while another program is being recorded. You are unable to use program guide if two shows are being recorded.
Accessing recorded shows is cumbersome.
Unit freezes regularly and requires unit to be unpluged to fix (Samsumg seen totally unaware of this problem...even though it appears many users, myself included have advised them of this issue), I was sent a replacement unit, advised to restore default settings and then update firmware (shouldn't samsumg have done this prior to sending unit out to me????) and continued to have exactly the same issues. I have even had discs stop duing playback, which I have then needed to playback on other devices so that I could watch the whole disc.

DO NOT BUY THIS PIECE OFJUNK as Samsung support will be of NO help

 

thislo posted a reply   
Australia

If it helps have a quick look at my recent review (THISLO) - had exactly the same crashing problems. Changed the HDMI cable and everything is perfect - makes no sense to me either but it worked. Unit is now rock solid.

muzbox
1
Rating
 

"Fail, Misses basic features"

muzbox posted a review   
Australia

The Good:well integrated with Tv

The Bad:management of recordings is terrible

You can't pad the recordings.

It therefor cuts off the end of every second show you record.

This is a basic fail that makes it useless.

Menu is also poorly thought-out. Samsung have spent too much time making pretty smart tv functions and ignored the basics.

fail for Cnet too this is no way a 9


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung BD-E8500A Blu-ray/PVR

  • IT_Scooter

    IT_Scooter

    Rating4

    "Generally, a great unit, BUT when trying to watch ANY series on DVD, it CONSISTENTLY freezes about 32 mins into the 2nd episode on disc 2. I have had this happen watching Doctor Who"

  • AnotherRat

    AnotherRat

    Rating2

    "i have 2 problems with this device.

    1. It freezes and you need to power the device off by holding the touch panel power button for a few seconds and then turn it back on to use it.

  • thislo

    thislo

    "Time for me to eat some humble pie. Before taking this unit back I tried one last thing - changed the HDMI cable to the TV. No logical reason to do so but it was the only thing I hadn't tried and I..."

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