Blu-ray players have come way down in price in the last couple of years, so the main question most buyers will have about the Samsung BD-D6700 is: why should I spend $270 (current street price) on a Blu-ray player? Samsung's answer is dual HDMI outputs, which are necessary only if you have a non-3D-compatible receiver and demand to hear the real Dolby Digital True HD or DTS Master soundtrack. Less demanding listeners can hook up the optical digital audio jack instead of the second HDMI output and get basically the same sound quality.
There's plenty to like about the BD-D6700 overall, including built-in Wi-Fi, tons of streaming video services and smartphone control, but all of those features are available on the step-down BD-D6500 too, which is almost $100 cheaper. Buyers who don't need dual HDMI will get more bang for their buck by spending a little more for the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim or by going with a cheaper alternative, whether that's Samsung's BD-D6500 or a competing Wi-Fi Blu-ray player.
The BD-D6700's silver sheen stands out among the glossy black boxes of its peers. Its two-tone black and silver design gives it a retro feel, as silver A/V gear reminds us of, say, an old cassette tape deck. The BD-D6700 loses the disc drawer in favor of a slot-loading design, like many of Samsung's 2011 Blu-ray players.
Right under the disc slot is an LCD display with touch-sensitive buttons. This allows the BD-D6700 to have a completely uncluttered exterior, and they worked fine, although we generally prefer hardware buttons.
The included remote is very good and we love that Samsung gave it a dedicated Netflix button, making it easy for anyone to jump right to the popular streaming video service.
The BD-D6700 can also be controlled by a smartphone. Applications are available for both iOS and Android, although we preferred the Android app in general. The best part about the app is you can use it for text entry, which you'll need to do a lot of when searching or when you first register all your streaming media accounts. Note that you won't be able to use the app to search within streaming media apps, such as Netflix, however.
The main user interface for the BD-D6700 looks modern and colorful by Blu-ray player standards, although it pales next to the simplicity of, say, the Apple TV.
The UI has four main icons: My devices, My content, Internet, and Settings. Overlap between categories makes accessing them less straightforward. Content on an attached USB drive, for example, can be accessed via either My content or My devices, and the same goes for content stored on a networked computer.
The Internet icon takes you to Samsung's Smart Hub interface, where you'll find all of the BD-D6700's streaming media services. We'd love it if a few major services (like Netflix and Pandora) were available at the top level, right on the main interface, although the dedicated Netflix button on the remote helps in that regard.
Smart Hub is more ambitious than any of its competitors. There's an application store, a customizable home page, search, recommendations--really the kitchen sink approach to dealing with digital content. Unfortunately, most of the implementation is clunky and search in particular is disappointing.
While we appreciate Samsung's effort to innovate in this space, we felt the more focused, curated content portals offered by Panasonic and LG made for a better user experience. Most of the time we only want to access a few major services like Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora, and the rest of the stuff just gets in the way. Samsung may improve the service as time goes on, but right now it needs work.
Check out our full review of Samsung's Smart Hub for more info and comparisons of the content portals offered on Panasonic, LG, and Sony Blu-ray players.
|3D Blu-ray||Yes||Onboard memory||1 GB|
Also note that the 1GB of onboard memory is a step up from Samsung's cheaper BD-D6500, which doesn't have any onboard memory. On the other hand, the onboard memory is only used for BD-Live features, which we never find ourselves using.
|Other: Rovi TV listings, USA Today, Google Maps|
Samsung has one of the most comprehensive selections of streaming media apps in 2011, especially on the video side. Standard services like Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube are covered, but also some standout extras, like MLB.TV and Hulu Plus.
For us, the main ingredient missing from Samsung's streaming media offerings is Amazon Instant Streaming. While competing services like Vudu are a compelling alternative for video-on-demand movies, Amazon Instant offers by far the largest selection of TV shows for pay-per-view watching, including both network and cable shows. We also appreciate that it's tied into our Amazon.com accounts, which means we're able to watch our purchased content in a browser as well. If you're looking to cut the cord or just supplement your existing cable subscription, we've found Amazon Instant Streaming to be the best TV content provider. That said, CinemaNow and Hulu Plus offer a solid collection of TV content, so it really comes down to which service you prefer.
Our extensive hands-on review of Samsung Smart Hub features a chart comparing the major manufacturers' services.
|HDMI outputs||Dual||Analog outputs||Stereo|
|Component video output||Yes||Digital audio outputs||Optical|
|USB ports||1||SD card slot||No|
The big connectivity standout on the BD-D6700 is its dual HDMI outputs. There are a few reasons why you may want dual HDMI outputs, but the main reason is if you have an older HDMI AV receiver that doesn't support 3D pass-through. With two HDMI outputs, you can send the 3D video directly to your HDTV and just the audio directly to your receiver. As we mentioned above, you can also send audio to older receivers using the digital audio output--eliminating the need for dual HDMI outputs--and get basically the same sound quality. If you're set on buying a player with dual HDMI outputs, be sure to also check out the Panasonic DMP-BDT310, which is a little less expensive and has a different suite of streaming media services.
Note that while the BD-D6700 does have a component video output, it's limited to 480i resolution, due to annoying AACS rules.
|Blu-ray disc load times and player speed|
|Average seconds||Composite score|
|Disc loading||42.83||Disc loading||96|
|CNET speed rating||98|
|Higher composite scores indicate faster performance, with an average 2011 Blu-ray player having a composite score of 100. For more information, see our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.|
The BD-D6700 has a CNET speed rating of 98, which means it's just slightly slower than an average 2011 midrange Blu-ray player. It's relatively quick to load Blu-ray movies, even ones with annoying Java-based menus.
While the BD-D6700 takes considerably longer than other players to load the main Netflix interface, it takes about the same amount of time to go from clicking the Netflix icon to actually watching a movie as other players. And the BD-D6700 has very fast navigation (a score of 126 where the average player is 100), so it feels fast when you're browsing menus and skipping chapters.
If you're interested in more details about how the BD-D6700's speed compared with other 2011 players, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the load times section.
We put the BD-D6700 through our full battery of image quality tests, but before we get to the results, let's be perfectly clear--we don't think most buyers should worry about image quality when deciding what Blu-ray player to buy. The differences, especially on the Blu-ray side, range from minute to nonexistent, and even DVD performance is very close between players. The only exception is for people with home theater projectors, where you may actually see a difference on a 100-plus-inch screen. In that case, it may be worth shelling out for a reference-level Blu-ray player like the Oppo BDP-93.
If you're into the nitty-gritty image quality details, again, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the performance section. For more information on our testing procedure, consult our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.
|Video resolution||Pass||'Mission Impossible III'||Pass|
|Text overlay on film||Fail||'Sunshine'||Pass|
|Cadence tests||8/8||'Tony Bennett: An American Classic'||Fail|
|Chroma zone plate||Pass||'NIN Live: Beside You In Time'||Pass|
The BD-D6700 fails a few minor Blu-ray image quality tests, but problems in a real-world viewing scenario are tough to spot. We noticed some additional "tearing" artifacts in "Tony Bennett: An American Classic," but they're in the background and very unlikely to be noticed unless you're specifically looking for flaws. For the vast majority of Hollywood movies shot on film, you'll see identically excellent image quality from any Blu-ray player, including the BD-D6700.
While the image quality of Netflix streaming video varied a little bit last year between players, we haven't observed any differences so far this year. The BD-D6700 provides the same Netflix image quality as other players, but remember streaming image quality varies a lot on a title-by-title basis, and also depends heavily on the quality of your broadband connection and home network.
|Video resolution||Pass||'Star Trek: Insurrection'||Pass|
|Text overlay on film||Pass||'Invite Them Up'||Pass|
Aside from the Oppo BDP-93, the BD-D6700 is the only Blu-ray player we tested this year that aced all the DVD tests we threw at it. We wouldn't read too much into that--as we said, they all produce pretty similar results--but if you watch a lot of DVDs, it could be a tiebreaking factor.
All in all, while we found the Samsung BD-D6700 performs well and has an excellent feature set, for most buyers it doesn't offer enough upgrades to justify its high price.