Samsung BD-P1590, semi-review

This is an affordable BluRay player that also supports some streaming media. It works with Blockbuster Direct, Netflix, Youtube, and Pandora radio. As far as I can see, Netflix and YouTube are increasingly common features, but Pandora is unique to this device.

To cut to the chase, I rather like this device.  I especially like the Pandora streaming feature.  However, it seems like it could have easily been even better.

Setup

I am using this with a basic Visio 1080p LCD panel connected via HDMI.  The audio out on the LCD panel go to an external stereo amplifier and external 2.1 speakers.

Installing the unit was trivial.  Remove old upscaling DVD player, attach HDMI cable, fish the power out the back, and plug it in.  For networking, I just plugged it in, and it asked me to do a software upgrade, which was painless. I’m happy with that.

Basics

Yep, it is Hi Def. It seems reasonably fast and responsive and easy to use.

Extra Software

I love the YouTube and Pandora features. Especially the Pandora (and I believe this is the only device that supports Pandora).

However, in the extra media players is where some rough edges start to show. The first complaint I have is the requirement that I only use this with no disc in the optical drive. This seems ridiculous to me. I watch a fair amount of episodic shows on DVD, so it isn’t uncommon for me to want to leave the save disc in the machine for a month at a time, and having to remove it to use Pandora or YouTube is irritating. What really rubs me the wrong way about this is that it seems like such a pointless restriction.

The next complaint, which is less significant, is entering text into Pandora. You have to use the arrow buttons to select letters, and there is no auto-suggestion system. This isn’t something you will need to do much though.

Then, entering text in YouTube is done by having multiple letters per numeric key like texting on a cell phone (ABC on 2, etc). Plus in the YouTube player, they provide suggestions for you to pick and edit. This is much superior to the Pandora text editor. However, that leads me to another complaint, which is that they aren’t the same. Why would they include two or more different text editors? Will I find a third style if I ever try to use Netflix?

I complain about the above things because it seems that they should have easily been able to double how nice the device is by fixing the text editors and required disc removal. They really are a bit of a stain on an otherwise great experience.

Beyond that, since this device can stream media over the network, and it can play many types of arbitrary file burned to a DVD, why in the world won’t this device stream music and video from my Mac or home server? Surely it has the power and the extra program space would have trivial?

Finally, I rather wish they would have included a web browser. I realize this is less trivial to do. OTOH, this box does run Linux, and WebKit (the heart of Chrome, Safari, and the web browser on numerous phones) is supposed to be light weight. Considering the potential support headache, I can understand if this were a feature saved for a higher end unit, but they don’t offer it on any of their models as far as I can see. This is still more wishfull thinking than a legitimate criticism though.

Conclusion

Despite the complaints, I really do love this device. I wouldn’t want to replace it with any other single machine. I may be convinced to replace it with a PS3 and a 2009 Mac Mini together, but I don’t anticipate getting those anytime soon.

I do hope that a future firmware update will unify the text editors and remove the requirement to remove the discs. Samsung, I hope you are reading this.