Samsung was the first manufacturer with a standalone Blu-ray player, but in 2008 it often felt like the company was struggling to keep up with Panasonic. When Panasonic released the first Profile 2.0 player, Samsung was still shipping Profile 1.1 players, with promises that future upgrades would make its player up to snuff. Now, just a few months into 2009, it appears the tables have turned.
The Samsung BD-P1600 comes complete with all the features we now expect on Blu-ray players, including Profile 2.0 compatibility and onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. But the BD-P1600 goes beyond the basics, adding improved operational speed, Netflix and Pandora streaming, and the ability to add Wi-Fi functionality with a USB dongle (sold separately.) By far, the BD-P1600's biggest fault is its annoying flip-down panel that occupies the entire front of the unit. However, if you can live with the design misstep, the BD-P1600 offers an excellent value for its performance and features.