The high-end Samsung BD-C8900 Blu-ray player has built-in Wi-Fi and is capable of playing 3D Blu-ray movies. It shares many of the same features as the excellent Samsung BD-C6900, with the added benefit of a 500GB hard drive and DVB-T digital TV tuner.
If you're on the lookout for a 3D Blu-ray player with PVR functionality, the Samsung BD-C8900 is one of the best options on the market. Otherwise, the Samsung BD-C6900 will provide a similar playback experience, with a saving of around £140. The decision really comes down to how much functionality you require out of your Blu-ray player.
Design and connectivity
With dimensions of 430x62x300mm, the Samsung BD-C8900 is a bit of a beast by modern standards, this thing could eat the Kogan Blu-ray Player Slim for breakfast. It sports a curious semi-translucent finish that leaves the inner components slightly visible. The end result reminded us of a futuristic turntable: you can even see the disc spinning away through the top. In a market dominated by identikit black oblongs, it's refreshing to see a little innovation for a change.
Unlike most Blu-ray players, the Samsung BD-C8900 eschews a traditional control panel in favour of touch-sensitive sensors that light up when the player is switched on. These definitely add to the BD-C8900's unique aesthetic, but we kind of prefer old school buttons ourselves. (Naturally, all buttons are replicated on the included remote, so it's no big deal either way.)
The Samsung BD-C8900 is an attractive piece of hardware: our only real caveat is that the glass surface smudges very easily. If your house contains a hive of grubby-fingered offspring, the player is going to get ugly very quickly.
The Samsung BD-C8900 Blu-ray player comes with all the essential connectivity options, including HDMI 1.4, component and composite video, optical digital audio, a pair of antenna connections and an ethernet port. In addition, the Samsung BD-8900 comes with a built-in Wi-Fi adaptor (802.11b/g/n). This allows you to access online content - along with media stored on your home network - without the associated cable clutter.
A front-mounted USB 2.0 port is also included, with support for a wide range of media files (MP3, MP4, H.264, DivX, Divx HD, JPEG-HD, MKV and AVCHD will all play on the Samsung BD-C8900 without a hitch).
Services and features
The Samsung BD-C8900's main claim to fame is its 500GB hard drive and HD TV tuner, this allows you to record free-to-air television directly to the player, including high definition channels and 3D broadcasts. The built-in hard drive can store up to 120 hours of HD television or 242 hours of standard def content.
Setting up timed recordings is a simple process, with options to set up multiple recordings on different days. A timeshift function allows you to pause and rewind live TV. There are also some basic editing options, including the ability to split recordings and make partial deletes to clips - handy for eradicating adverts.
Unfortunately, the Samsung BD-C8900 does not come with twin TV tuners (as found on the LG HR558D Blu-ray player), in other words, you can't record two channels simultaneously, which is a shame.
Another standout feature found on the Samsung BD-C8900 is [email protected], a web and video-on-demand service built specifically for Samsung's home entertainment range. The service includes an application download interface dubbed Samsung Applications Library, which works in similar fashion to the Apple iPhone.
The ability to mess around with apps and widgets is definitely useful, and we're keen to see what applications are developed in the future. Naturally, the service also provides access to popular websites, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
To assess the Samsung BD-C8900's imaging performance, we hooked it up to a Sharp LC60LE925X 3D LED TV via an HDMI cable. In our DVD and Blu-ray playback tests (The Matrix and Terminator Salvation respectively), the Samsung BD-C8900 produced exceptionally sharp and vivid video, on par with the best Blu-ray players we've tested. Our 3D viewing experience was equally impressive: the climactic spaghetti tornado in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs really whipped off the screen.
When it comes to audio, the Samsung BD-C8900 is no slouch: it can handle all recent HD audio formats including Dolby TrueHD, DTS Master Audio and Dolby Digital Plus.
The Samsung BD-C8900 is a pretty fast operator, with Blu-ray movie menus typically taking around 20 seconds to appear (older players often took over a minute to boot up). The onscreen interface is clean, colourful and attractive, with animated transitions between menus. While the menu can be a little bit sluggish at times, it's nothing we couldn't live with.
All in all, the Samsung BD-C8900 is an excellent 3D Blu-ray player with good PVR functionality. While a little on the steep side, it's one of the only ways to record 3D television - which is sure to appear more frequently in the future.