LAS VEGAS--There hasn't been much news at CES 2012 in the standalone Blu-ray player space, but Samsung's flagship BD-E6500 has a couple of legitimately new features.
The BD-E6500 has two HDMI inputs on the back, so you can switch between two devices. That could be an attractive feature for those who've run out of inputs on their HDTV (and don't have an HDMI-switching AV receiver), although I could see it causing problems for Harmony remotes not used to treating Blu-ray players as switchers.
The other big feature on the BD-E6500 is, which enables you to "sync" your DVD collection in the cloud, making it accessible from any device which has the Flixster app. The idea is you pop a DVD in the BD-E6500, it scans the disc to confirm it's a legitimate DVD, then you have the option of paying a nominal fee--I've heard it's around $1--for a cloud copy. You'll also have the option to pay a larger fee to get an HD cloud copy. Blu-ray scanning isn't available yet.
It's one of the latest parts of Hollywood's UltraViolet initiative, which could play a bigger role in the digital video space, especially after the recent Amazon.com announcement. (Disc-to-digital will also be available on most of Samsung's other Blu-ray players and all of its Blu-ray home theater systems.)
The rest of the Blu-ray features are pretty standard: built-in Wi-Fi, 3D compatibility, and support for Samsung Apps. A Samsung representative said that although the Smart Hub interface will look largely the same as last year, a lot of work has gone into addressing, including the need to improve search results.
Pricing isn't currently available for the BD-E6500, but it's scheduled to be released in the spring.