The Samsung UBD-K8500 is the first 4K UHD Blu-Ray reader from the Korean company. This reader offers us the possibility of watching movies in UHD format with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, that is, 4 times more resolution than that of a conventional Blu-Ray. But although the increase in resolution is one of the most striking points when talking about this type of players, it is even more important to know that this Blu-Ray reader offers compatibility with High Dynamic Range images, that is, HDR . The HDR format offers a greater impact on image quality, achieving more natural colors and deeper blacks. We have had the opportunity to thoroughly test the Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD Blu-Ray reader and we will tell you what we think.
Design and connectivity
The first thing that strikes you about this Blu-ray player is its curved design . The Korean company has been providing this design to its players for some time to match that of its televisions. Samsung has used a brushed finish and a front with slightly protruding angles that add a touch of elegance. The player has measures 40.6 x 5 x 22.8 centimeters and weighs 1.9 kilograms . It's a pretty big player, at least compared to the latest Samsung Blu-ray models or some Sony models .
On the front we have four touch sensitive buttons located on the right side of the player, while the disc tray is located on the left side. On the tray we have a logo that shows us that we are facing a UHD player and just above we have the logo of the brand. In the center we again have a logo that confirms that we are facing a UHD player . We do not have any type of LCD panel that gives us information, only a small LED that will light up red when the equipment is off and green when it is on. Under the buttons we will have a USB port covered by a small plastic cover that, the truth, does not match too much with the design of the reader.
The connections on the Samsung UBD-K8500 are pretty sparse. Something that we really liked is that this Samsung Blu-ray reader incorporates two HDMI outputs . This means that we can connect one of the outputs to our 4K television and the other to connect it to our AV receiver to pass the sound to it . It is perfect if we have a 4K television but our AV receiver is not compatible with this type of signals.
The main HDMI output is HDMI 2.0 , is HDR compliant, and uses HDCP 2.2 copy protection . In addition to the two HDMI we also have an optical digital audio output and an Ethernet port . The reader has an integrated WiFi connection , but it does not incorporate any type of analog output . It is a clear "renew or die . "
As for the remote control, it is a small remote, with the front in a brushed finish, just like the reader. The rear has a rough finish that makes the controller less slippery. At the top we have the necessary buttons to use the Blu-ray, while at the bottom we have four buttons to control the TV (Power, Source and Volume).
In addition to UHD Blu-ray disc playback , the Samsung UBD-K8500 offers some very cool features. The reader is capable of playing normal Blu-ray discs and DVD discs , upscaling the image to 4K resolution . In addition, and although the company's televisions this year are not compatible with 3D signals, this player is capable of reading 3D Blu-ray discs , although not with 4K resolution . As for the audio, this player can play CD's but not SACD or DVD-Audio .
The reader allows you to play files from the USB port on the front, including any 4K video file . The player built into the device is compatible with MKV, DivX, AVCHD, WMV and JPEG files .
And leaving physical playback aside, the Samsung UBD-K8500 also offers us the ability to play streaming video through applications such as Netflix or YouTube . With Netflix we can play video with 4K resolution , however, it is not compatible with HDR video playback . Later we will go into detail about the smart part that the reader offers us.
As for the audio, the reader is compatible with HD sound systems , being able to decode the 7.1 channels of the Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio formats . It also offers us the possibility of bitstreaming through the HDMI connector and passing the sound to our AV receiver so that it can decode it.
Interface and applications
The Samsung UBD-K8500 reader includes the same interface as other Blu-ray players from the company. The home screen shows three large panels (disk, multimedia and Samsung applications) and just below we have access to some recommended applications , three applications that we have configured as favorites , the Screen Mirroring option and access to Settings .
If we enter the Multimedia section we will have access to our network hard drives or to our computer if we have it configured. Access to folders is fast and videos and songs load quickly . The same goes for Blu-ray discs. We have measured the loading time of a Blu-ray disc and the average loading time has been 19-20 seconds .
In terms of applications, the Samsung system offers us the most common, although it must be recognized that there are not too many. As we mentioned before, there is no lack of applications such as Netflix , YouTube , Wuaki or Plex , but we miss the applications of television networks , such as Atresplayer or MiTele . In addition to the applications to watch streaming videos, we also have Games , Sports applications , Social networks or Information .
In general, the interface is quite colorful and aesthetically pleasing , although it does not move with the same fluidity as the system used in the company's own televisions.
To perform imaging tests have connected the Blu-ray Samsung UBD-K8500 to the TV Samsung UE65KS9000 . The only UHD Blu-ray disc we had available was the Batman Vs Superman movie . As we saw in the review of the television, the player provides impressive images, with great clarity, many details and rich colors. It is likely that in other more colorful films, such as Life of Pi , an even more spectacular image will be achieved.
But it is not the increase in resolution that is really important in the UHD format. What really makes ultra high definition different is the HDR and the wide color gamut . Of course, to make everything look as it should, we will need all our devices to be prepared. We will need a TV with 4K resolution and compatible with HDR , the compatible player and an HDMI cable compatible with 4K signals . In our tests we initially used an older cable and the image was cut off.
It's fair to say, though, that the resolution switch between regular Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-Ray isn't all that impressive you'd expect . While it is true that the image is sharper and thanks to the HDR can be seen more natural colors , we will not have the effect "wow" was achieved with changing DVD to Blu-ray. We must bear in mind that the combination of HDR and the wide color gamut of Blu-ray does not translate into brighter images , on the contrary, we will achieve a more natural, more cinematic image .
Most likely, our UHD Blu-ray collection is still quite limited. For this reason, the Samsung UBD-K8500 Blu-ray player incorporates a scaling system that will increase the resolution of any content up to 4K . The work the device does is really good . Of course, a Blu-ray disc will look much better than a DVD disc, but we will still be able to see our DVD collection with more than decent quality .
The Samsung UBD-K8500 is a great UHD Blu-ray player for those who want to enjoy the highest possible quality at home. If we accompany it with a good 4K TV compatible with HDR, we will achieve impressive images, very sharp, with bright and vivid colors and, above all, very natural .
Although the 400 euros it costs can be a significant handicap, we must bear in mind that it is an investment for the future . The device is compatible with practically any disc that we already have at home, it also manages to get “an extra” from our old films thanks to its scaling system. On the other hand, we will have an entire multimedia player , thanks to the possibility of playing content from our local network and streaming content with 4K resolution through the Netflix application .
In short, a player that, provided we have a suitable television, will allow us to enjoy exceptional image quality today and will ensure that we are prepared for what is coming.