This month, two PC World readers are going to be the lucky recipients of Huawei’s latest smartwatch, the HUAWEI WATCH GT 2 Pro, valued at $499.
Samsung BD-E5900 Blu-ray player
This Blu-ray player is an excellent way to bring Smart features to your old TV
- Excellent feature-set
- Simple interface
- Web browser can be slow
Samsung's most appealing Blu-ray player is under $200, handles a swathe of features including 3D, USB playback, Web browsing, streaming video on demand and apps. The interface is generally easy to navigate and the player works quickly and quietly. Apart from the slightly slow and difficult-to-navigate Web browser, the BD-E5900 is a well designed and executed media player.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
Samsung’s range of Blu-ray players echoes its LED and plasma TV line-up, with its Series 5 and Series 8 naming divided between DVD, Blu-ray and PVR devices. The Samsung BD-E5900 is top of the Series 5 range, and is the company’s most fully-featured Blu-ray player.
The BD-E5900 is a 3D Blu-ray player; like other Blu-ray players it can also read DVDs. It has Samsung’s Smart Hub of apps and services, a built-in Web browser, and Wi-Fi Direct for wirelessly connecting new laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Samsung Series 5 (BD-E5900): Design and setup
The Samsung Series 5 has a wide range of features, but it’s a relatively benign and unobtrusive device. There’s a concentric-circle design on the top of the player and a couple of small logos, but beyond these it’s a slim, black, small box that should hide away easily next to your TV.
There are three small buttons on the BD-E5900’s front right for playback, power, and ejecting the disc from the tray-loading Blu-ray drive. You’ll also find a USB 2.0 port that accepts USB flash drives and portable hard drives.
The back of the Samsung BD-E5900 is similarly Spartan — there’s a HDMI port for connecting a TV, Ethernet for network connection (Wi-Fi is also built-in), a second USB 2.0 port, and a digital audio output for connecting a home theatre. The lack of analog connectors does leave anyone with an older TV in some difficulty ##8212; we’d recommend you look to Panasonic for a Blu-ray player with analog video output.
The bundled remote control for the BD-E5900 is small and simple, with no complex trackpad or keyboard. The single stand-out is a large multi-coloured button to directly access the Blu-ray player's Smart Hub feature.
Setting up the Series 5 is a tremendously easy procedure — plug it into your TV using HDMI, plug it into power and you’re ready to go. You can also connect a network cable if you have one, but we opted to set up the BD-E5900 with its inbuilt Wi-Fi to cut out on unnecessary wires.
Samsung Series 5 (BD-E5900): Features and performance
First and foremost, the Samsung Series 5 is a Blu-ray player. It’s quiet, and quick to operate if you choose the Quick Start mode, which consumes very slightly more power but lets the player turn on in half a second. All the new and old 2D and 3D Blu-ray discs we tried were loaded successfully with no issues, and most hit the main menu screen of movies within 20 seconds — meeting our benchmark for Blu-ray player speed.
The 3D playback of the BD-E5900 is equal to any other 3D Blu-ray player from any other brand — that is, it successfully plays back 3D video with no issues; the main point of issue with any 3D setup is going to be the TV and 3D glasses used.
The BD-E5900 has no integrated 2D-to-3D support. We don’t see this as a large impediment, since most recent TVs are able to convert a 2D input to 3D on-the-fly anyway. A small range of TVs in 2010 and 2011 have 3D capabilities but are unable to convert 2D to 3D — these users are the only ones affected.
The Samsung Series 5 is excellent when it comes to playing media files back over USB. This Blu-ray player is the best we’ve tested for file support; MKV, H.264, MPEG2/4, DivX, WMV, AVCHD video, JPEG picture, WMA, MP3, AAC audio files are all supported. This is a comprehensive list that should see almost all users’ needs met.
The Smart Hub is the BD-E5900’s gateway to the Internet. It’s Samsung’s app marketplace, and the Series 5 comes pre-installed with a range of Samsung-selected apps like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo. Samsung’s ‘signature’ Family Story and Fitness apps are useful for Samsung smartphone or tablet owners, while the Kids app is an easy go-to to distract children when you’ve run out of Blu-rays.
All the best video on demand apps like ABC iView and BigPond Movies on Demand are able to be run on this Blu-ray player, and other features like BBC News and Google Maps should be useful for some users. We think Samsung’s Smart Hub is the best Smart TV service currently available — it’s missing the swathe of high quality video on demand services that the US is spoiled with (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and the list goes on), but this is an Australian problem rather than a Samsung one.
The Web browser of the Samsung Series 5 is probably its weakest feature. It’s a little slow to operate, and the lack of a proper keyboard means typing in search queries or filling out online forms becomes a chore. We tried plugging in a keyboard to speed things up but it wasn’t recognised. It’s usable enough in a pinch, but a proper PC, notebook or even a smartphone or tablet is a better experience.
Wi-Fi Direct is another less-publicised feature of the BD-E5900. If you’ve got a reasonably recent notebook, smartphone or tablet, it’s likely that its Wi-Fi chipset will be compatible with Wi-Fi Direct, which allows wireless screen mirroring and file sharing at high resolutions and high bit-rates. You can effectively use whatever screen the BD-E5900 is connected to as a larger screen for your Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, for example. It takes a bit of menu-hunting to get working for the first time, but it’s a nifty little extra that some users might find convenient.
Samsung Series 5 (BD-E5900): Conclusion
If you’re looking for a Blu-ray player, the Samsung Series 5 ticks all the boxes we’d want it to. It’s a versatile 2D and 3D Blu-ray and DVD player, it can handle a wide range of media files, and it’s got a mostly-good Smart interface and a solid range of apps. If you’re not going to use the OK-but-not-great Web browser, then it’s an easy product to recommend.
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