My DVD player died about 2 weeks ago. I took the opportunity to step-up one component of my aging electronics arrangement by buying the Samsung BD-P1600 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player. It has BluRay support, obviously, and is fully HD.Â The rest of my electronics pile is pre-HD craze, though – my TV still has a tube (gasp!), and isn’t digital. The BD-1600 has component A/V out.
The main draw to this device was the NetFlix and Pandora support, and WiFi. I already subscribe to NetFlix, and don’t have Cable anymore. So, I use NetFlix as my main source for that kind of entertainment. Until now, I’ve been only able to stream NetFlix over my laptop. That’s OK, but my wife wouldn’t want to watch a movie on the laptop with me.
When I set up the Samsung BD-P1600 I found out that the documentation said it was ONLY compatible with a specific WiFi Dongle. Apparently, the BD-P1600 is so new that the WiFi Dongle isn’t readily available. I couldn’t find it available anywhere on the internet, and it was only mentioned on one French electronics site as an optional accessory for something else.
I took a chance on a random WiFi Dongle from Best Buy, but no joy. Wouldn’t even recognize it at all. That was putting a bee in my bonnet until I realized that it would be easier for me to move my Wireless Cable Modem near the Samsung BD-P1600 than to get the WiFi Dongle. After I plugged in a length of Cat-V cable, everything was up and running. To get NetFlix working only required that I enter a 5 character code into the NetFlix site and baddabing!
The Samsung BD-P1600 Netflix support is only a little clunky. You have to have the player in “No Disc” or “Disc Not Playing” mode. What this means is, the disc shouldn’t be in the tray, or you have to stop the disc from playing if it spins up. You then can press the menu button to get the menu for setup. The menu button does not work if the disk in the tray is playing. Things like Video, Audio and Network configuration are on the menu. NetFlix and Panora are also in the menu. Selecting NetFlix takes you to a view of your NetFlix Watch Instantly queue.
If you have something in your Watch Instantly queue, you see a side-scrolling list of disc covers. Scrolling is a little slower than you would expect. In my opinion, it takes a hell of a lot longer to render the next cover than it should.
If you don’t have something in your Watch Instantly queue, or if you want something different to add, you have to go to your account online from a computer. There is no browsing built in. (Add sad face here.) Given how long it takes to render a new picture for the next disk, it’s probably just as well. Scrolling through pages of movies would be intolerable unless rendering new content was vastly improved.
It doesn’t take long for new queue additions to show up on the screen though. Where I was annoyed at how long it takes to show the next DVD cover, I was surprised how quickly it showed the updates to my Watch Instantly queue. I guess it’s all about expectations, right?
Once you choose a download, the player switches to a black screen with two status blocks on the bottom. One is the streaming buffer and the other is a quality test. If you have streamed NetFlix on your computer, you are familiar with these. Once the buffer fills, the movie starts.
We watched Back to the Future as our premiere online, streaming, downloaded webified NetFlix movie. There were no hiccups. It played exactly as expected. I have had some jerky, interrupted streaming over my laptop before. Probably due to the interwebs being clogged up at the time. Last night I watched some Mezzo DSA episodes, too. No problems at all.
Over time, I expect to see some busy networks and stalled streaming, but I haven’t seen it, yet.
If you can hold off, you may want to wait for the Samsung BD-P3600 1080p Blu-Ray Disc Player which is supposed to have the WiFi support built in – with no external WiFi dongle required.