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Christmas Gift Guide

Samsung BD-P4600

Unlike other Blu-ray players

Touch sensitive buttons

Lay it flat

Slot-loading design

USB port on the other side

Back panel

Connectivity

Internal USB port doesn't work with Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi adapter

External power supply

Wall-mounting hardware

Remote

Samsung likes to say its "Touch of Color" design scheme elevates products to become a "work of art," but really it comes down to three main principles: rounded corners, translucent red highlights, and a glossy black finish. The Samsung BD-P4600 is the epitome of that design philosophy. It looks like no other Blu-ray player we've tested--reminding us of nothing so much as a thin plate balanced on a stand. The BD-P4600 has a feature set that bests most of its competitors, including Netflix and Pandora streaming, Wi-Fi compatibility with an included USB dongle, and 1GB of onboard memory. In all, we had very few complaints with the BD-P4600's functionality, but its $500 list price will probably scare of most consumers, especially when the step-down Samsung BD-P3600 ($400 list price) offers all the same functionality, albeit in a more conventional design. The BD-P4600 is an excellent Blu-ray player if you have no qualms about paying an extra $100 for its peculiar look or wall-mount capability, but most buyers will be perfectly satisfied with the cheaper BD-P3600.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Since the step-down BD-P3600 has all the same features and performance, the only reason to buy the BD-P4600 is its unusual design. Looking like a rectangular UFO, the BD-P4600 is relatively flat (1.6 inches thick) with round corners and a red, translucent finish. Perched on the included stand, it sits on an angle sloping downward, which exposes its touch-sensitive buttons.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
When the BD-P4600 is unplugged, it appears to have a completely buttonless, smooth design, but when you turn it on, the buttons light up seemingly from nowhere, along with a red LCD display right in the middle of the unit.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
You can also opt to ditch the stand and lay the BD-P4600 flat, although it becomes difficult to see the LCD display.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Because the BD-P4600 is so slim, there's not enough room for a standard disc tray; instead, it features a slot-loading design similar to the PS3, with the opening on the side of the unit.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
On the side opposite the disc tray, there's a USB port.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Most Blu-ray players have their connectivity located on the back panel, but the the BD-P4600 instead houses its ports in a small compartment on the bottom of the unit.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Beneath a plastic cover is the BD-P4600's input/output bay, with the ports angled into the unit. Snaking cables into the compartment is a tight squeeze, and if you've got a thick HDMI cable (like the premium Monoprice cables we have in the lab) you may find that it just won't fit. The BD-P4600's connectivity is bare-bones. The main connection is the HDMI output, which is capable of handling 1080p HD video and high-resolution multichannel audio. There's no component-video output, with only a standard composite video available for analog video. For audio, you can use the aforementioned HDMI output, but there's also an optical digital-audio output and a stereo analog output.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
There's also a USB port in this compartment, which is skillfully designed so you can plug into the included USB Wi-Fi adapter and still have it concealed by the plastic cover. The only problem is that we couldn't get any Wi-Fi reception with the dongle on the inside port, so instead we had to use the second port on the side, which caused the dongle to hang awkwardly off the side of the unit.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The BD-P4600 comes packaged with the USB Wi-Fi dongle, for which Samsung normally charges $80.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The power port is also found in the compartment, which leads to the external power supply--another reason why the main unit is able to be so slim. There's an opening at the back, so you can snake the cables out in an orderly fashion.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The BD-P4600 includes hardware for wall mounting, and to us, that's the application where its slim design makes most sense. Of course the BD-P4600 requires at least two wires (HDMI and power), so you'll need to hide those wires in the wall. Otherwise the slickness of your setup will be marred by a couple of dangling cables.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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