Samsung is adding the ability to stream Netflix videos and Pandora's online music service to its latest Blu-ray players. Starting today, a free firmware update will add both services to the BD-P2550. (The nearly identical BD-P2500 will get Netflix support, but not Pandora.) The Samsung players join the LG BD300 Blu-ray player, the Roku Netflix Player, and (once a forthcoming firmware update goes live in November) the Xbox 360 as the only devices to date--outside of a PC--that can access Netflix's online viewing service.
Both Samsung players have been available at retail for several weeks. In addition to Netflix and (for the 2550) Pandora support, a subsequent firmware update due on October 30 will add DTS-HD audio support (onboard decoding for DTS-HD High Resolution, bit-stream output for Master Audio) for both players, and BD-Live support for 2550 (it's already available on the 2500). Those features are in addition to the players' already impressive feature set, which includes HQV video processing (which, in previous players, provides improved quality when playing standard DVDs); 7.1-channel analog audio outputs (good for interfacing with older AV receivers); and 1GB of onboard flash memory (no need for adding an SD card or USB flash drive to deliver compatibility with online BD-Live features).
The Netflix viewing experience should be nearly identical to that offered by the Roku player; it offers unlimited viewing of the growing (12,000-plus) library of on-demand movies and TV shows to any Netflix subscriber on the $9-per-month plan or above. The ad-supported Pandora personalized Internet radio service is free.
Both players carry a list price of $400, so anybody with even a passing interest in music should opt for the BD-P2550 (available at Best Buy). CNET will have complete hands-on reviews of the players as soon as the full firmware updates become available.
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