Connectivity is standard. The most important connection is the HDMI output, which is capable of carrying both high-def video signals up to 1080p and high-resolution audio. For analog high-definition video, there's also a component video output, but note that Blu-ray Discs are limited to 1080i over component and DVDs to 480p. There's also a composite video output (but no S-Video), and of course it's limited to standard definition.
For audio, there's the aforementioned HDMI output, plus an optical digital audio output. Analog audio limited to just a stereo RCA output, whereas more expensive standalone players, such as the Samsung BD-P2500 and Sony BDP-S550, have multichannel analog outs. There's also an Ethernet port, which can be used for updating the firmware and to stream BD-Live content content.
For our Blu-ray performance tests we compared the BD-P1500 with the Panasonic DMP-BD50 and the Sony PlayStation 3. We started off looking at test patterns, with all three players connected to the LG 50PG60, with each input set to its THX picture mode. The first disc we looked at was Silicon Optix's HQV test suite on Blu-ray.
The BD-P1500 got off to a bad start, failing the Video Resolution Loss Test, as certain parts of the screen had a strobelike appearance and the overall image appeared unstable. Both the DMP-BD50 and PS3 passed this test in the same scenario. Things didn't get any better with the jaggies tests, as the BD-P1500 failed both the pivoting three line test and the rotating white bar test. Again, the DMP-BD50 and PS3 passed both of these tests, with the PS3 performing slightly better than the DMP-BD50. We switched to the most difficult of the HQV tests--the Film Resolution Loss Tests--and as we suspected, by BD-P1500 failed the panning resolution test pattern. However, we were surprised that it handled the slow pan over Raymond James Stadium reasonably well, without the excessive moire that we sometimes see on lesser players.
Since nobody actually watches test patterns, we switched over to actual program material. We began with some scenes that we know often cause problems for players with mediocre video processing. The very beginning of Chapter 8 from Mission Impossible: III will often show moire in the stairs in the background, but the BD-P1500 handled it well. The blinds at the beginning of Chapter 12 and the limo in Chapter 16 can expose similar problems, but the BD-P1500 handled both with full detail and free of jaggies. Considering it failed so many of the test patterns, we were impressed.
Next up was Ghost Rider, and we fast-forwarded to the end of Chapter 6, with a panning shot away from an RV. We often see moire in the grille of the RV, but the BD-P1500 handled it perfectly again. We also looked at Tony Bennett: American Classic, which is actually on the disc in 1080i, which forces the BD-P1500 to deinterlace everything. We did notice some issues on this disc. For example, at the beginning of Chapter 7 there's a clapperboard with horizontal lines, and jaggies show up all over each of them. Jaggies showed up on the DMP-BD50, but they were much more subtle. Of course, very few discs are in 1080i natively, but it does give some indication that the issues we saw in test patterns can occur in program material. And we should note that the aforementioned issues will only be present when the player is set in 1080p mode, so if your HDTV has solid 1080i deinterlacing or can properly accept a 1080p signal at 24 frames per second, you may be avoid some of the problems we described.
When the BD-P1500 was first released, it was plagued with disc compatibility errors that made it impossible to load some movies. After several firmware updates, the vast majority of those issues are gone; we threw a wide variety of discs at the BD-P1500 and it didn't run into a single error. That means we're mostly willing to look past the BD-P1500's earlier troubles, although we'd add that there's no way to know if more compatibility errors will show up on newer releases.
Load times were just a tad slower compared to the newest standalone Blu-ray players. Mission Impossible: III loaded in about 29 seconds, which is average. Java-heavy discs naturally took a good deal longer--Spider-Man 3 loaded in 1 minute, 50 seconds. Similarly, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest loaded in 2 minutes, 3 seconds; the newer BD-P2500 loaded the same movie about ten second faster. While these speeds are solid for a standalone player, they still don't compare with the superfast PS3, which consistently loads discs in a fraction of the time standalone players do.
Standard DVD performance
DVDs are still cheap and plentiful, so the BD-P1500 DVD performance remains an important factor. We started off our DVD tests with the HQV test suite on DVD, and the Samsung performed admirably at first, passing the initial resolution test and displaying the full detail of DVD. The next jaggies tests were only mediocre, with significant jaggies showing up on a test with three pivoting lines. We were also disappointed to see the BD-P1500 fail a test with scrolling titles, as the titles looked jerky and difficult to read--most players pass this test. On the upside, the BD-P1500 had no problem with the difficult 2:3 pull-down test, successfully kicking into film mode in about a second.
Switching to actual program material, we looked at the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection and the BD-P1500 correctly did its 2:3 pull-down processing, as the hulls of the boats and the curved railings looked smooth. We did notice some subtle jaggies on the text of the opening credits, but the same jaggies were present on the DMP-BD50, although they weren't on the PS3. Next up was Seabiscuit, and sadly the BD-P1500 performed quite poorly on the introduction, with a few scenes marred by jaggies appearing all over the screen. In other words, videophiles may feel the need for a separate DVD player if they choose the BD-P1500.