We discussed during the unboxing to find out if the BD-F7500 is really worth investing compared to other product categories such as media players or even purchasing a SMART TV. As in the case of the F7500, you are being given the choice to enjoy the best of both worlds – a media player and Smart TV. And now, it’s time for the full review of this fully featured Smart Blu-Ray player.

The F7500 Smart Blu-Ray player is announced by Samsung along with its 2013 Smart TV line up and it is targeted at users without a Smart TV or want to enjoy Samsung’s Smart TV experience without paying too much for a new TV while also able to watch Blu-Ray movies at home. Our review unit is provided by Samsung Malaysia. Watch our full review video and text review video to find out more.

Out of the box and outlook features

Our review unit box comes with a 5-meter HDMI cable, remote, manuals and the F7500 itself. The player has a very glossy surface and it feels very high class, easily The F7500 has a tray loading type Blu-Ray drive located on the front left of the player, it is hidden nicely and you won’t realize that there is a disc drive on this thing unless you press the Eject button. On the front right, there is a single line display that shows you playback duration and operation status, next to it is a USB port hidden with a flap; just on top of the single line display, you will find four capacitive control buttons – Play/Pause, Next, Previous, and Power button. On the back of the F7500, you will find 7.1 audio output ports, an optical audio output, two HDMI outputs (one for home theater and the other for TV), and an Ethernet port for internet connection, Wi-Fi 802.11n is also supported as well.

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The front panel

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The back of the player

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Analog 7.1 Audio Out

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2 HDMI, Ethernet and Digital Audio Out, this player is powered by Java

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Beautiful capacitive buttons, reminds us of Samsung’s MP3 Player

User Interface and Operation

Once you power on the F7500, you are shown a main menu screen, unlike conventional disc players that immediately resume the movie you’re watching or prompt you to insert a disc to play content. The main menu screen is very straightforward, you get to access your smart apps, multimedia files, and settings, the four apps shortcut(YouTube, Facebook, Web Browser and Twitter) cannot be changed. You also have shortcut buttons legend on the bottom right of the screen.

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In settings, you are able to change various settings for the F7500 such as display, audio, network connectivity options, or update your device’s firmware. The configuration page is very user friendly and you won’t find any trouble in understanding them if you are not a total computer illiterate.

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Display Settings

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Audio Settings

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Network Settings

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Smart Features Settings

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System Settings

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Support, and it supports Remote Support! WOW!

Besides using the remote control to operate the F7500, you can also purchase a wireless keyboard to work with it, we recommend using the Logitech KR400 as it also has a touchpad with it.

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We recommend using a touchpad/keyboard hybrid keyboard such as the KR400

Overall, the user interface and operation of the F7500 is straightforward and it is not difficult for novice users.

Smart Features

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Samsung Smart Hub

Before we really get to multimedia content playback, we are going to focus on the smart features of the F7500. Accessing the Smart Hub (the app selection screen) is easy by just select the the apps button on the main screen. If you are a Samsung Smart TV user, you will definitely feel at home as the interface is very similar. As for new users, it is just rows and rows of icons and you won’t find any trouble using it. The Samsung App store has a large selection of smart apps for you to choose from ranging from categories such as Social, Video Playing, Education etc. The smart apps are coded using Java technology, which is very common in.

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Samsung Apps App Store

Here are some apps that we would like to feature and talk about:

Facebook

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This app comes in as standard when you buy a device that has the smart word in front of its name (smartphone, smart camera, smart TV). You can also say that a smart device is not smart when there isn’t a Facebook app for it. So let’s get back to basics, the Facebook app provides you an almost complete Facebook experience on your, you can browse your news feed, update status, view your friend’s profile, pictures, and videos, like and comment on stuffs. The interface doesn’t look polished, but it is workable. Navigating around the app can be very choppy at times and you might lose patience by just using only your remote control, we recommend using it with a wireless keyboard.

Tonton.com

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This is probably the best local apps being made to be available on Samsung’s App store, you are able to watch local movies and dramas that are being broadcasted on Malaysia’s local TV station, as well as streaming the channels live on your TV, which if you do not have a satellite TV service or antenna, you are able to watch local TV channels on the F7500, overall, streaming videos is quite smooth if you have a 4 Mbps connection and above, our internet connection here is Streamyx 8Mbps.

Twitter

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Simply wonderful! The Twitter app is a must have on the F7500, the app is beautifully designed and has the best performance out of so many apps. As usual, you will be able to do the usual stuffs such as retweeting posts, post updates, and view trending tweets.

The Star Online

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Simple and straightforward, that is what we think of our local paper’s app on the F7500, you are able to view news in a RSS feed method, even though we can’t view the full text, but it is enough for busy working people which they can browse through a summary of news happening for the day. We hope that The Star could do something like a e-Paper method for us to read news.

Vimeo

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Simple and elegant – this is how we describe the Vimeo app. You can sign in to your Vimeo account and view other people’s channels. Usual stuff.

YouTube

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Another app not to be missed, the YouTube app is designed very elegantly, videos appeared in large thumbnails, categories, subscriptions and personal uploads selection are located on your right, however we faced serious lags when navigating around the app and it somehow destroys our YouTube watching experience. But still, we appreciate the convenience of a YouTube app built in to the F7500.

Viki Premiere

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Love K-POP? Want to watch Korean dramas without paying or downloading? Then stream it with Viki Premiere, this app really provides good access to the most recent K-POP content, and best of all, you don’t need to pay for watching and they are really clear.

Web Browser

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The F7500’s has a full HTML web browser that is able to surf web pages in full desktop mode, videos embedded on a web page can be played without any issues, but lags still happen most of even if we load less graphics intensive webpages. It will work for casual surfers, but it won’t provide you a memorable experience. And sadly, using your tablet or even a low end smartphone could result in a better experience than the web browser on the F7500.

All in all, we find that most of the applications don’t really provide a smooth experience on using it, which is quite a disappointment ifSamsung were to ask consumers to use this to compensate for a Smart TV in your living room, and we only blame one thing causing this – Java. Java technology is good, but it is never meant for displaying good graphics transition in applications and there are limited APIs to create good multimedia apps. We would’ve preferred if the F7500 is running on Linux or even Android.

Another thing we are not satisfied is the inconsistent experience across apps, such as the keyboard and usage of a mouse cursor, some apps require you to type using the insensitive QWERTY keyboard and some allows you to type in words using T9 method; otherwise some will allow you to use mouse cursors and some don’t.

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Almost every app have its own typing experience keyboard

However, we have to praise Samsung for providing around 200 apps in the Samsung App Store just alone for the F7500, which we also believe it is also the best Smart Home Electronics app store in the market.

Multimedia Playback

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The F7500 supports video, picture and music playback on it, not only it supports grabbing content from your external storage or network PC, it also supports cloud storage services – Dropbox, SkyDrive and SugarSync, which is very useful if you store multimedia content on these services.

In terms of video playback, it supports 3D Blu-Ray playback and any file format that you throw at it, be it RMVB, MKV, MPG, AVI, it just plays without hesitating. The media player on the F7500 supports subtitles so you should have no problems in .SRT and .IDX files together with your video. When playing a video on the F7500, it automatically create scenes for you to skip on when you enter the scene selection function, video seeking time is also very fast and you can even specify the video time that you want to skip to by pressing the number keypad on the remote.

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Available options for video playback

Picture playback is good and you can view high resolution images without any issues, it also supports playing slideshows while adding background music from your own song collection. We would have welcomed a sharing feature on it as it can be really useful if you want to upload the pictures up to Facebook and share it with your friends.

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Verdict

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the end user’s requirement on what do you really want to expect from the F7500. Samsunghas done a great job implementing the Smart Hub here which users won’t feel that they are just only purchasing a Blu-Ray player, the F7500 has powerful hardware under its hood, but the experience is seriously let down by the choppy user interface, hyping a high end Blu-Ray player like this as smart and providing a mediocre experience is really underwhelming for some users, especially if you are really expecting its performance to be exactly like your smartphone or tablet. Nevertheless, we have a wish list here for the next gen Smart Blu-Ray player:

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More USB ports – Merely having one USB port isn’t just enough and that has been going on for years, Samsung is a no compromise company when it comes to manufacturing products like this, even if they add one more USB port, I’d be sold over a decision purchasing a media player because I’ll be given a choice to plug in both a wireless keyboard and my external storage

SD Card Reader – Some people may disagree on this, but how difficult is it to implement a SD card reader? Imagine when you want to view photos from your point and shoot camera and put it on the big screen, the easiest way is to take out the memory card and slot it into a device.

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Stop using Java Technology – Java technology is so yesterday on devices that are ‘smart’ today, when you buy a high end Blu-Ray player like this, you would’ve expect a skinned Android or Linux running as the backend. Java limits graphical performance and the code itself is not stable. We would hope that Samsung will implement Android for its next Smart Blu-Ray player just like the recently launchedSamsung HomeSync.

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Give us a classy or better feature remote – You need to have a remote that is ‘smart’, the buttons on the remote don’t really interact with the smart apps really well, and that is why we prefer to attach a wireless keyboard to use the F7500. At least provide us a magic remote so that we are able to use the pointer cursor like Harry Potter’s wand.

We recommend the F7500 for its great multimedia playback capability and praise Samsung’s initiative to include their Smart Hub feature onto it, however due to the mediocre ‘smart’ experience, we rate the F7500 at 3.5 out of 5 star rating. Until then, we’ll miss the F7500.

Gadget Review – Episode 5 – Samsung Smart Blu-Ray Player BD-F7500 74We’ll miss you!!

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