Review: Netflix Watch Instantly on 4 Devices
We compare Netflix streaming on TivoHD, Samsung Blu-ray, Roku Netflix Player and Windows Media Center.
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August 10, 2009 by Stephen Hopkins
Samsung BD-P2550 Blu-ray Player
I picked up the Samsung BD-P2550 for one reason: its Reon HQV video processing.

Other than a few BD players offering Realta HQV and Anchor Bay VRS video processing — all of which were well out of my price range — it was one of the few BD players offering a high-end video scaling solution.

As a secondary benefit, the Reon HQV video processing is also applied to the player’s Netflix playback.

I won’t go into too much detail about this player’s UI, mainly because it’s identical to that of the Roku Player. From a connectivity standpoint, the P2550 lacks the Roku Player’s wireless connection option, but the same can be said about the TivoHD. Both devices can work wirelessly with a wireless Ethernet bridge. All of my testing was done, however, using a wired 100 Mbps Ethernet connection and 5 Mbps cable Internet connection.

The P2550 has become my go-to Netflix streaming choice for one reason: image quality. The Reon HQV processing goes a long way in making non-HD Netflix content watchable on my 100-inch screen. Blocking and noise are greatly reduced, and just enough sharpening is applied to bring out detail without looking artificial.

It’s still not DVD quality, but it comes close. There are titles I simply could not watch on the other devices that are at least passable on the P2550. The Reon HQV processing is much less noticeable on HD content, mainly since it’s not performing scaling or deinterlacing duties (at least not for my 720p display, which matches the resolution of HD Netflix content).

There is some subtle noise reduction applied that does a good job of also masking the rare streaming artifact without killing detail.

Here comes the bad news: The P2550 is now discontinued, and Samsung has moved away from the Reon processing in the P3600 that replaced it.

This means there’s currently not a Netflix playback device available with a higher-end video processing chipset. The P3600, and even the lower-end P1600, do a good job of scaling DVD and Netflix material, but not as good as the P2550, especially on large screens.

It’s not all bad news. The Samsung P2550 has a near-identical sister, the P2500, with the only difference being a lack of Pandora music streaming.

If you’re looking for a BD player with the best DVD and Netflix available, I’d grab a clearance or refurbished P2550 (new for about $350) while you still can. You can find the P2500 (new) on clearance at Amazon.com for $250.

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Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.

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