Samsung's UBD-K8500 Blu-ray player is a premium model with a full slate of impressive features. It supports native 4K, has an app store and built-in access to several streaming services. It's near the top of its class.
Some Blu-ray players, especially budget models, experience lag. We didn't suffer any hiccups during our tests with this machine. We were quite fond of Samsung's interface for this Blu-ray player too. It uses large tiles that are easy to read and navigate through.
For connecting to the internet, there is an Ethernet jack, or you can just use Wi-Fi. The Samsung comes with several preinstalled apps by default, including Netflix, YouTube, a web browser, and Spotify for music. If you want to download more, there is an app store. This Blu-ray player is DLNA compatible, so you are able to upload your music and video to the cloud, and access the files wirelessly.
During our boot test in which we timed how long it took us to reach the home menu on stock settings, the K8500 took 6.6 seconds. This is faster than comparable Blu-ray players, which typically had marks of 12 seconds.
The UBD-K8500 has stunning quality, thanks to its ability to play 4K ultra HD Blu-ray discs natively. Other players just upscale content to 4K. The picture is unlike any other, especially since it supports 60fps and high dynamic range (HDR). The player also works with 3D Blu-ray discs, but your HDTV needs to be 3D compatible. The quality of DVDs even looks fantastic.
The UBD-K8500 has a slim profile, brushed black finish and measures 16 inches wide by 1.8 inches high and 9.1 inches deep. Weighing in 4.2 pounds, it's twice as heavy as the other Blu-ray players we tested.
Its body is slightly curved, in the same vein as the Samsung BD-J5900 player, so the players can match curved TVs. On the unit's front panel, you'll find four buttons: one to open the slide-out disc tray, a power, play/pause and stop button. We would have preferred to see some sort of a display, but there is none. Fortunately, it has two little LEDs that let you know when the unit is powered on.
This player has a slew of connectivity options and ports. There are two HDMI ports, one HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 that you connect to your display, AV receiver or soundbar. The other HDMI port uses HDCP 1.4. HDCP 2.2 is the latest copyright protection standard, which makes this player future-proof; it's a nice touch that the player supports both types. It also has an optical digital audio output and a USB port. You can plug an external hard drive or flash drive into the port to watch your stored videos, listen to music, or scroll through pictures.
The included remote control is small but easy to hold. We wish the remote was backlit, and even worse, it uses coin-sized 3V batteries instead of the standard AA or AAA. The remote doesn’t have dedicated fast-forward and rewind buttons; you have to hold the skip forward and back buttons instead. This can lead to accidental presses.
This Blu-ray player has built-in decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. You have the choice to output PCM and Bitstream too. If you have a Dolby Atmos setup, the player is compatible. Atmos provides multidimensional audio to your home theater system through upward-firing speakers. It's especially stimulating with nature documentaries. You can pop in CDs or load up MP3s on a USB drive for playback too.
Samsung includes a one-year warranty on the UBD-K8500. The company also offers support through several channels, including telephone, email or live chat. There is also an online support section on Samsung's website with FAQs and guides.
The Samsung UBD-K8500 is one of the best Blu-ray players money can buy. It has a thin design, supports practically every type of high definition audio and video, and lets you stream Netflix in 4K. It may not be as competitively priced as other players, but it is feature-filled and future-proof.