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The BD-D8500M is the aircraft carrier of Samsung's fleet of Blu-ray players. It's large, surprisingly under-designed, and packs a great deal of features behind its jutting prow, including TV recording capability, 3D support and Web connectivity. It's available for around £320 online.
More Meat Loaf than Kylie
When we say the BD-D8500M is large, we're comparing it to the company's other Kylie-sized disc spinners. Measuring 430 by 64 by 299mm, the dimensions of the BD-D8500 are conventional enough, so it will sit quite happily in any equipment rack.
The front of the unit is pleasingly clean. Controls comprise a touchscreen panel, and the disc mechanism is a slot-loader, rather than a tray. The build quality is good. The deck comes with Samsung's one-size-fits-all regulation remote control.
The BD-D8500M is as much a PVR as a 3D-compatible Blu-ray player. It has twin Freeview HD tuners and a 500GB hard drive. Operational noise is low, with the hard drive seemingly well insulated.
The BD-D8500M also throws in Samsung's Smart Hub Internet TV and apps portal for good measure. If you're looking for one box to do it all, then the BD-D8500M could be for you.
Connectivity is straightforward enough. There's a pull-down flap on the front for USB-based media playback, while, around the back, you'll find an HDMI, phono AV, digital optical audio output and Ethernet jack. The deck sports integrated Wi-Fi too.
There's also a component output, but this. Not only does it restrict the Blu-ray output to 480i but it also prevents you from watching the Freeview HD channels in hi-def. These are output via component at 576p. At this stage, manufacturers might as well just junk the component connection and be done with it.
Record your heart out
The PVR side of the BD-D8500M works well enough. Select shows from the large, clear electronic programme guide and you'll be given the option of recording the entire series, as well as recording shows from a list of related recommendations. We elected to record Popstar to Operastar and were duly asked if we also wanted to record The Pathetic Decline of Televisual Entertainment in the 21st Century. You can partially delete some of a recording, should you want to tidy it up for some reason.
There are some issues, though. You can't pop over to Samsung's Smart Hub portal -- perhaps to watch BBC iPlayer or browse YouTube -- while you're recording to the hard drive. Neither can you stream media across your network from a PC or network-attached storage drive while recording a show. Try either and the deck prompts you to cancel your recordings. Thankfully, you're at least allowed to spin a disc while recording.