|Samsung BD-P1200 Blu-ray Player|
|Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players|
|Written by Ken Taraszka, MD|
|Saturday, 01 September 2007|
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Music and Movies
Once the BD-P1200 was in my reference system, I immediately dropped in the new Nicolas Cage film Ghost Rider (Sony Home Entertainment) on Blu-ray to see just how good the video was from this player; while the movie’s content disappointed me, the player and its picture didn’t. The detail and textures the BD-P1200 displayed were some of the best video I’ve ever seen at home. You could easily appreciate the grain of the leather in Cage’s jacket. Close ups of his face revealed every pore in detail, while the smooth skin of Eva Mendes was perfect; you could even discern the elevation of the mole on her face. This film has a lot of sharp contrast, and the Samsung did exceptionally well with both the light and dark areas of the screen during these scenes. I think what impressed me the most was the way it portrayed the light from the sun coming through a doorway during the final battle and the way it reflected off the dark surroundings; it seemed utterly real. Colors were bright and vivid, while the subtle variations in the dark scenes remained equally impressive. Much of the film occurs during the dark hours and, even in these scenes, the smallest details, such as falling dust, can be seen with an almost three-dimensional quality. The sound was equally impressive, with explosions exhibiting huge dynamics and the subtleties of the crackling flames realistically reproduced.
To truly test this player’s merit, I chose a torturous Blu-ray disc, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Buena Vista Home Entertainment). This disc has been problematic for many older players, but the Samsung cued it up on the first try. I was able to play the Liar’s Dice game on the disc, even before I updated its firmware. The load time for this disc was the fastest of any player I’ve used it in to date and, when the menu came up, I was again treated to video beyond reproach. Early in the film, as Keira Knightley is standing out in the rain, abandoned at the altar, you could see every droplet of water on her face and every strand of her hair in larger than life detail. The colors of the British uniforms seemed to pop off the screen. Every bit of dirt on the pirates’ faces was clear and the smoke exhibited a depth that was hard to explain. During the brightest scene on the beach, when the pirates dig up the chest, the individual grains of sand and their varied textures could be seen. Despite the sharp contrast of the dark costumes and white sand, all the rich detail still came through, making for an amazing hi-def experience and demo. The Samsung did a great job sonically as well, giving an eerie feel from the creaking of the ships and clearly demonstrating the clash of the swords; voices were always clear and distinct throughout the film.
To test the scaling ability of the Samsung, I dropped in the standard-definition DVD version of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Buena Vista Home Entertainment). The Samsung did a good job with the details in the dark and light scenes, but there is no substitute for bits and, despite being markedly better than when viewed in standard definition, it was no match for the detail and texture offered by the Blu-ray version. If you haven’t tried to compare these two formats yet and are still waiting it out, as you don’t believe they are this much better, you need only set a scaled DVD against a true high-definition disc. The video the Samsung put out from this standard DVD would have blown me away just 14 months ago, but now I am spoiled. Compared to the details from Blu-ray discs, the picture was slightly grainy, fast motion wasn’t as smooth and the edge detail was softer. I used this pair of discs to demo this player to many of my friends and everyone who saw it had to admit the difference was huge. This is not to say the Samsung was bad at scaling DVDs. Quite the contrary, it did a respectable job. This demonstrates how much better the video is from a true 1080p source.
The BD-P1200 is capable of playing CDs as well, so to test it, I put in the Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino). This is a new favorite band if mine that seems to defy description. They remind me of many different genres from the ‘80s with attitude. On “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,” the BD-P1200 did a good job of conveying the emotion of the song, but had weaker bass, and the guitar and cymbals lacked the weight that my Meridian G98DH has on this disc. On “Still Take You Home,” the fast pace of the song was well displayed, but the control and depth of bass again was less. This is not a surprise, as the Meridian costs eight times the price of the BD-P1200, but all in all, the BD-P1200 was an adequate CD player and was smoother in the highs and mids than many DVD players I’ve heard.