LAS VEGAS--We've seen Blu-ray players get smaller every year, but Samsung just leapfrogged everyone.
The newly announced BD-D7000 Blu-ray player features an ultrasmall design, looking more like an external DVD drive than a home theater disc player. It has a slot-loading disc drive with touch-sensitive buttons along the front.
The rest of its features are similar to other Blu-ray players the company is releasing in 2011. It's 3D compatible and also has built-in 2D-to-3D conversion processing. Of course, most 3D TVs we've reviewed last year can also convert 2D content to 3D, but it will provide buyers with another option for 2D-to-3D video processing.
The BD-D7000 also has built-in Wi-Fi and can access Samsung Apps, which opens up a wide variety of streaming-media services, including Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, Blockbuster, and Twitter. New for 2011 is Samsung's Smart Hub, which is a unified search feature that looks through all of the streaming-media services for content and makes viewing recommendations. Of course, that's what Google TV promises, too (and didn't quite deliver), so we're eager to see how Smart Hub works in practice.
Rounding out the 2011 upgrades are promised faster load times, which is important for Samsung, as some of its midrange products lagged behind the competition in our 2010 disc-loading tests. Samsung also has a new "1-foot connection" feature for Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to connect to your router without using a password if the device is within a foot of the router. "One-foot connection" only works with compatible Samsung routers, however.
Samsung says pricing will be announced closer to the release date, and right now there's no specific release date except "first half 2011." We expect that the BD-D7000 will feature a price premium over standard players, so be prepared to pay extra for its tiny footprint.