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Samsung Blu-ray player series (2007) review: Samsung Blu-ray player series (2007)

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The amplifier delivers 135 watts to each speaker channel and 150 watts to the subwoofer. Its surround processing modes are comprehensive: Dolby Digital and DTS for DVDs; Dolby Pro Logic IIx for generating a faux surround effect (using all seven speakers) from stereo sources; and--for Blu-ray Discs--support for Dolby Digital Plus, uncompressed linear PCM, and lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. Those last items--sometimes missing from Blu-ray players and AV receivers--mean that the Samsung HT-BD2T should play any Blu-ray movie with its optimal soundtrack.

Like all Blu-ray players, the HT-BD2T can output video at 720p, 1080i, or full 1080p via HDMI. It can also upscale standard DVDs to those resolutions as well, and it supports 24-frame playback at 1080p, which may offer smoother playback on some compatible TVs. The system is upgradeable via an Ethernet connection, but only for minor fixes such as disc-compatibility issues. The Blu-ray player doesn't support Profile 1.1 (picture in picture) or 2.0 (BD-Live) Blu-ray features, nor can it be upgraded to do so. It's not a total loss--it will still play the movies and other extras found on 1.1 and 2.0 discs--but given the premium you're paying for the HT-BD2T, we'd prefer state of the art.

The HT-BD2T connectivity offerings are slim. Aside from HDMI, video output choices are limited to component and--for non-HD televisions--composite. There are no audio outputs (which makes sense, since you're buying this package to use the surround speakers). Inputs are limited to just two optical digital ports and one set of stereo analog connectors. Combined with the dearth of video inputs, that means you'll need your TV to handle video switching duties for other AV components, such as game consoles and cable/satellite boxes. It also means that you're limited to plugging in three audio sources--two surround and one stereo--to take advantage of the HT-BD2T's speakers. In addition to the disc player and the ability to toggle among three external audio sources, the only other built-in functionality of the HT-DB2T is an FM radio.

Aside from the built-in Blu-ray player, the feature list of the Samsung HT-BD2T is actually pretty thin. That's par for the course for "lifestyle" home theater systems, but at this price, we would expect to see plenty mores--Sirius or XM satellite radio support, HDMI passthrough, video switching, or a more current Blu-ray compatibility (Profile 1.1 or 2.0 built-in, or the ability to upgrade). Also missing in action are bass and treble or any sort of tone controls. There's also no headphone jack.

For the most part, the Blu-ray player of the Samsung HT-BD2T performs pretty much in line with most other Blu-ray players we've tested--which is to say, it's pretty slow. Disc-loading times varied--some Blu-ray discs were up and running in 35 seconds, but the Sunshine Blu-ray needed a full two minutes to come to life (DVDs rolled in 15 seconds). The HT-BD2 needed five seconds to change CD tracks. Gee, we thought new technology was supposed to be not only better, but also faster. More gripes: the rear-mounted cooling fan is noisy enough to be heard during quiet movie scenes. On the bright side, the player had no trouble playing the 3:10 to Yuma Blu-ray, a disc that's proved to glitch on other Samsung players. Otherwise, we found the Blu-ray playback on the BD2T to be essentially in line with the Samsung BD-P1400, the standalone player upon which this model is based.

To assess the HT-BD2T's sonics we started with Dolby's The Sound of High-Definition Blu-ray demo disc. Switching between lossless TrueHD and standard Dolby Digital revealed little difference on the well-recorded San Francisco Symphony tracks; the Dave Matthews' Live at Radio City tracks didn't benefit from TrueHD's technically superior sonics. The HT-BD2 sounded smooth and bass was full. Detail was only average for upscale HTIBs.

With our old HTIB torture test standby now on Blu-ray, House of Flying Daggers, the HT-BD2T was unfazed by the circle of drums scene. The huge drums sounded powerful and the "thwack" sound as Ziyi Zhang kicked the massive drumheads was fairly well defined. Still, the swordplay's metallic clang sounded muted and lacked detail. We were more impressed with the HT-BD2T's capability to create a seamless, wraparound sound field, even when we only used five speakers. Moving up to full 7.1 channel surround provided only slight improvement in the surround experience. The HT-BD2T can play loud enough to fill even moderately large rooms with sound.

We next used a Blu-ray Disc, Sunshine, to see if we could hear a difference between the regular and lossless DTS Master Audio tracks. The sci-fi flick has a great, deeply layered soundtrack, but we could not detect a sonic advantage for the lossless format. Also of note: we couldn't use the picture-in-picture commentary feature on the disc, as that only works on newer Profile 1.1 Blu-ray players.

CD sound was a step down from movie sound; we felt that the HT-BD2T blurred Radiohead's atmospheric sound mixes on their In Rainbows CD. "Walk of Life" from Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms CD felt dynamically flat. Like most home theater systems, the HT-BD2T was more satisfying with movies.

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