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Samsung showed off their next generation of Blu-ray players at CES back in January, and in recent weeks, some have been seen in stores, but the company has announced pricing and availability for all three in a press release.
All three players include Bonus View, DVD upscaling, HD audio support, and streaming access to Netflix (videos) and Pandora (music). (Netflix access requires a separate Netflix membership) Each player also plays standard CD's and support displaying JPEG photos. Audio can be supplied via the HDMI 1.3 connection, the optical digital audio output, or 2-channel analog outputs (the BD-P3600 has 7.1 channel outputs).
The BD-P1600 is an entry level player that offers playback of Blu-ray, DVD, CD, MP3, JPEG, and AVC-HD discs, two USB ports, optional WiFi capability, and Bonus View capability. BD-Live is also possible, but it requires the purchase of a flash drive for extra memory.
The BD-P1600 retails for $299.99 and is available now. Amazon currently lists it at $266.80, but prices can and do fluctuate.
The BD-P3600 upgrades the features of the entry-level unit by a different case design on the outside, built-in BD-Live capability, included WiFi dongle, and 7-channel analog audio outputs. This model lists for $399.99 and is available now from retailers like Amazon (currently $399.99).
Have you been waiting to take the Blu-ray plunge until you could find a player you could hang on your wall? If so, the BD-P4600 is the player you've been waiting for! Seriously, the final player in Samsung's announcements can be wall-mounted, and iti offers the same features as the BD-P3600 except for the removal of the 7-channel analog audio ouputs (probably not a huge concern for people looking to hang their player on a wall).
Availability for the BD-P4600 is set for some time in April.
While it's nice to see Netflix and Pandora included in all three models, I think it's odd that the 1600 is missing the 1GB of memory it needs to support BD-Live out of the box. After all, 1GB flash memory cards can be had for about $6 or less, and you just know that people will be buying that entry-level model, not realizing that they can't do everything with it until they go back to the store and buy a flash drive. It's a foolish omission by Samsung just to try and save a buck on the parts list.
The prices of these players are somewhat distressing, as well. The list price for the previous entry-level model, the BD-P1500, was $249. While the BD-P1600 does add Netflix and Pandora support and the option of adding the WiFi dongle, it doesn't have full BD-Live support built-in. The BD-P3600 is also $50 more than the previous BD-P2500 that it replaces. To really grab the marketplace, especially in this economy, decent Blu-ray players need to get less expensive, not more expensive!
With Panasonic's new players hitting the shelves right now, new players coming from Vizio and Oppo soon, and Sony's new players coming out in Summer, it would be a good idea to look around and make sure that these Samsung players fit what you're looking for at the right price.
Official Product Information
Source: Samsung Press Release
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