The Built-In USB HD Media Player
An interesting feature that seems to be making its way onto several HDTVs today is the inclusion of a built-in media player. This is meant to give you the ability to play videos, listen to music, and see photos that you have stored on a USB flash drive or an external hard drive. Ideally, this would mean that you don’t have to invest in something like the Seagate FreeAgent Theater or Apple TV for this purpose.
The Samsung Series 6 650 LCD HDTV comes with this exact functionality. As soon as you plug a drive into the previously mentioned USB port on the side, a dialog box pops up asking if you’d like to enter media player mode. After choosing the type of content you’d like to enjoy, you are taken to a file selection screen.
If you’re navigating through content that you have procured through the Internet, the “Basic View” is the easiest way to get through your folders. If you are looking at pictures and videos that you shot with your own camera, the timeline can be useful, since it sorts your digital memories chronologically. The user interface is reasonably attractive and easy to understand.
And that is how the media player is supposed to work. In theory. Unfortunately, in reality, the file format support is nowhere near where it should be. Several of the files that I had no trouble playing on something like the Western Digital WDTV failed to read on this integrated player. Sticking to the most vanilla of codecs will leave you with decent support, but extend anywhere beyond this and you’ll be left with a message telling you that you have “not supported video data.”
Extending this expanded functionality further, you can try your hand at some rudimentary “Content Library” features like a cheesy match-three casual game. With an Ethernet connection, you can take advantage of some online services too, like YouTube and Flickr.
Priced at about $2500, the Samsung LN55B650 probably isn’t going to be the cheapest thing you’ll buy this year, but you are getting quite a bit for this price. There’s nothing quite like catching Monday Night Football in glorious HD on a massive 55-inch TV. The 120Hz Auto Motion Plus will ensure that you see no blur as Adrian Peterson busts through another tackle on his way to the end zone.
I was quite pleased with the vibrant screen image and the inclusion of an integrated media player, though it’s a shame that the file support isn’t up to snuff. The online capabilities are a nice addition too, opening up some alternative entertainment options. The execution isn’t quite there, but it’s nice to have.
Overall, the Samsung LN55B650 seriously delivers the picture quality that you desire, while tossing in a few extras that you may not find elsewhere at this price point.
- Great picture quality all around
- Integrated USB-based media player
- Four HDMI inputs in total
- 120Hz Auto Motion Plus
- Stunning design complements any home decor
- Sound quality could be better
- Media player file format support needs improvement
- Content Library functions feel tacked on
- Picture-in-Picture needs work
Overall Rating: 8.0/10.0
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