The Samsung BD-P1400 (US$400 as of 4/24/08) is, at this point, one of the older Blu-ray Disc players currently available. And its features reflect this: It lacks both BonusView for picture-in-picture playback and BD-Live for accessing Internet-connected content.
In our image and sound quality tests, the Samsung BD-P1400 just barely nudged ahead of the Panasonic DMP-BD30, which had the lowest score in our spring 2008 roundup of Blu-ray players. One juror noted that this model produced a flatter image than the other players, with less detail. And this unit's problems with The Searchers' day-for-night scene (chapter 20) were exactly opposite those of the Pioneer's: We could see the characters' faces just fine, but it was so bright you'd never guess the image was supposed to be night.
Surprisingly, the Samsung unit did well on our standard-definition playback tests. But on our high-definition tests, it fared worse, coming in last in our tests for color quality and detail.
The BD-P1400 failed one test entirely. When we inserted a Blu-ray disc of Pixar's Cars, this model happily displayed the trailers, but froze on the main feature. The disc wouldn't play, even after we waited nearly 4 minutes--1 minute longer than the instructions suggest--for the disc to begin playback. This particular release, authored in BD-Java and heavy on interactive extras, was just too complex for the Samsung player to handle.
The BD-P1400 is one of the few Blu-ray Disc players available that supports on-board Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD High Resolution decoding. Despite that capability, it came in last place in our audio tests using a track from the uncompressed PCM 5.1-channel sound track of The Last Waltz. One juror noted that the player's audio reproduction sounded duller and flatter than that of other models, with the highs and lows missing.
Speed-wise, the BD-P1400 is a mixed bag. It powered up and started playing in 47 seconds--faster than all but one of its competitors--but once it started playing, it didn't respond well to the remote. More than once I pressed a button and waited, not sure if the player had actually received the signal I'd just sent it.
The player itself is easy to use: The on-screen menus are clear and well-illustrated, with attractive and informative icons. An exceptionally useful Speaker Setup screen helps you get your surround system properly arranged. The menus fail to explain a few items (the concept of PCM Down Sampling isn't explained on-screen), but the thorough, 65-page (and all-English) manual takes up the slack there. A clearly written and colorful Quick Setup Guide complements the manual. Although the remote isn't backlit, commonly-used buttons glow slightly in the dark.
The BD-P1400 comes with an ethernet port, which makes updating the firmware a breeze if you can stretch a cable from your router to your TV room. But this player won't play media off of your home network, and it won't work with BD-Live features on discs.
At $400, the BDP-1400 remains among the least expensive Blu-ray Disc players available. But other models can offer better value.