Samsung BD-H6500 review: Fastest Blu-ray player we've ever seen

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The Good The Samsung BD-H6500 is the fastest Blu-ray player we've tested, which translates to less waiting while watching disks or when booting up services like Netflix. The player offers a wide range of streaming content in addition to onboard wireless access. It can act as a source for Samsung's Shape Multiroom system streaming every kind of audio from Blu-rays or CDs. It also transcodes between Dolby and DTS, which is handy for sound bar owners.

The Bad The player's 4K upscaling adds cost but is of little practical benefit, plus the player doesn't act as a multiroom client.

The Bottom Line The Samsung BD-H6500 is simply the quickest Blu-ray player we've seen, delivering lightning-fast access to your movies on disc and streaming services like Netflix.

8.1 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Ecosystem 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8

In 2014, after selling millions of iPads, Apple found that sales are starting to peter out. One reason, according to CEO Tim Cook, is that people don't tend to upgrade their tablets as often as other electronics.

If Apple sold Blu-ray players it would have said the same thing about the disk spinners a few years ago. If you already have a player there is little reason to upgrade, but Samsung and its BD-H6500 provide one compelling improvement. While disk playback quality has stayed consistent across different players regardless of price for several years, the focus is now on features and interface speed.

The BD-H6500 is the quickest player we've ever seen -- with some caveats -- and also one of the most feature-laden for the money. The Sony BDP-S6200 is also a speedy player and can beat the Samsung in some tests, but can't match the Samsung for usability or disk loading from "Off".

While few will use the Samsung's 4K upscaler -- 4K TVs have perfectly good ones for the most part -- the ability to almost instantly switch between playing a Blu-ray and Netflix is eminently useful. Additionally if you have Samsung's Shape multiroom system the BD-H6500 can act as a source, which might be cool if you have a concert Blu-ray or DVD you want to stream around the house.

As good as it is, if you want to save some money then the BD-H5900 does without a couple of these features and goes for an even more palatable $90, likely making it the superior value. Look out for our review of the follow-up to last year's Editors' Choice soon.

Editor's note (11/17/2014): The Samsung BD-H6500 has had a small price drop in the US to $139 from $150, and is also the winner of our speed test roundup. As a result of these developments it has now had an increase in value from 7 to 8 and scores our Editor's Choice Award. Meanwhile, the UK pricing is £109 and Australia is a $199 RRP.


Sarah Tew/CNET

While most Blu-ray players look the same, just as with DVD players and VHS decks before them, Samsung puts enough of a twist on its players to stand out. The most identifiable tweak is the single curved edge which doesn't look much from front-on but is more impressive viewed from above. Given that the controls are on the top of the unit this is how it should be displayed: on top of a cabinet or TV unit and not under other components.

The player is a little smaller than the standard "full rack width" of 17.75 by 14.2 inches (0.45 meter by 0.4 meter), but still wider than the almost half-height Sony players, like the BDP-S3200 . The Samsung's size is otherwise typical at 1.6 inches high and 7.7 inches deep (4.1cm by 20cm).

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control is friendly and sensibly set out, but interestingly missing the Netflix shortcut of last year's model. Even using the older remote's Netflix button doesn't work on this Blu-ray player any more.

The menu system is unchanged from other Samsung electronics -- white text on a blue backgrounds -- but the Home interface is different from last year. It's now a little busier and in many ways mimics the company's Smart TV interfaces, but the added complexity doesn't translate to better user-friendliness. While there are now shortcuts to apps on the main page these aren't as easy to configure as LG's own smart interface.


Most Blu-ray players these days are at the sub-$100 mark, with the few that do pop above charging for the privilege of 4K upscaling. At $130, it's a given that the BD-H6500 will upscale Blu-rays and other sources to 4K resolution. (The H6500 is also available in the UK for £120 and in Australia for AU$170.) But whether you want this or even need it is another matter: all 4K TVs include some form of upscaling, and mostly of a better quality.