In almost every standalone Blu-ray player we review, you're likely to find a comment about its disc-loading speed and how it inevitably doesn't compare with the Sony PlayStation 3. For once, that's not the case, as the Samsung BD-P3600 is flat-out faster than the PS3 at loading most movies and its operational speed is just as quick. The BD-P3600's feature set is also impressive, including Netflix and Pandora streaming, 7.1 analog outputs, 1GB onboard memory, and an included Wi-Fi USB dongle.
If you get a thrill out of people looking in your home theater stack and asking, "What's that?" then the BD-P3600 is right up your alley. Bathed in a glossy black finish, with round corners and a trapezoidal shape when viewed from the side, it looks like no other Blu-ray player we've tested.
There are absolutely no buttons on the front of the unit, with playback controls relegated to a series of touch-sensitive controls on the top. That means you pretty much can't stack other components on the top of the BD-P3600, and we occasionally had misfires with the touch-sensitive buttons, too.
The glossy look is cool, but it really shows fingerprints and dust, so expect some upkeep to always have it looking slick. But in terms of pure wow factor, the BD-P3600 delivers. (If you want to go really unconventional, Samsung also offers the wall-mountable BD-P4600.)
There's also a component-video output that can output Blu-ray at 1080i and standard DVDs at 480p. For audio, you can use the aforementioned HDMI output, but there's also an optical digital-audio output.
The BD-P3600 has onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. That means it can decode those soundtrack formats so they can be played back on almost every HDMI-capable AV receiver. Bit-stream output is also supported, if you'd rather the decoding be done in your AV receiver
The BD-P3600 comes packaged with a USB Wi-Fi dongle, which Samsung normally charges $80 for, so you won't need an Ethernet connection in your living room to take advantage of the Internet-enabled content.
The included remote is a substantial redesign over previous players, but in some ways it's a step back. Most of the buttons are logically positioned, but important buttons, like Popup Menu, Disc Menu, and Title Menu, are stuck at the bottom of the remote. We also would have liked to see easy-access buttons for Netflix and Pandora, but that's more of a nitpick.