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Samsung adds YouTube, MKV to Blu-ray players

YouTube joins Netflix, Pandora, and the upcoming Blockbuster service on Samsung's current Blu-ray players.

The main menu of the YouTube client on Samsung's Blu-ray players. CNET

Add YouTube the growing list of streaming media services supported by Samsung Blu-ray players. Effective immediately, Google's megapopular online video site will be added to the Samsung's current 2009 (and future) Blu-ray players via a free firmware update. The update also adds support for playback of MKV files. (A placeholder button has been added for the previously announced Blockbuster video-on-demand service streaming service as well; it's still on track to be added later this year.)

We were able to run the automatic firmware update on our Samsung BD-P3600 review sample quickly and painlessly. The YouTube main menu (shown above) looks different from the Yahoo Widget-ized version you'll find on Samsung TVs, but it's otherwise pretty similar to the YouTube experience on other electronics products. Our only beef was--just like other non-PC YouTube players--it doesn't stream YouTube's HD content.

Its MKV support was also good. We played back an MKV-wrapped AVC file (1.37GB, 1,024x550-pixel resolution) from a USB thumbdrive. Aside from a slight stutter at the very beginning, playback was smooth and problem-free, and we had no problems using fast-forward and rewind. (For the uninformed: MKV support is a favorite of digital media geeks who get their HD movies from more unconventional sources, such as BitTorrent.)

The YouTube upgrade was first mentioned just yesterday at Samsung's IFA news conference in Berlin. It's available on all three current 2009 Blu-ray players: the BD-P1600, BD-P3600, and BD-P4600. Those services join Netflix and Pandora that are already available on the players. For those keeping score at home, this upgrade makes the Samsung Blu-ray players more competitive with the excellent LG BD390.

Separately, a Samsung representative has confirmed to CNET that YouTube and Blockbuster support will also be rolled out to the company's 2009 Blu-ray home theater systems (HT-BD1250, HT-BD7200, HT-BD8200, HT-BD3252) later this year, but no date has yet been specified.

This post has been updated from its original version to include hands-on testing of the software upgrade and additional information. Also, the state of the Blockbuster service has been clarified. CNET's David Katzmaier and Matthew Moskovciak contributed to this report.