Since writing a post a while back about my home theater setup, not much had changed, or at least until my quick to pull the trigger purchase of a Blu-ray player on Amazon last weekend. They had a great bundle deal on the Samsung BD-P1600 and four Blu-ray discs, and I paid under $200 for the whole thing.

Overall I think it was a worthwhile purchase. Of course, I've only had it 2 days, so don't look at my thoughts as extensive, but it has a lot going for it. The built in Netflix streaming is awesome, and means I don't have to do anything funny with a computer hooked up to my TV and whatnot anymore. The streaming quality is also really good, a lot better than I had expected through the player. I doubt I'll be using it much for movies because you miss out on the surround sound (vs. DVD or Blu-ray), but for TV shows it works great.

I've only watched one Blu-ray movie on it so far, but I was pretty impressed. You really notice the upgrade in resolution from a DVD, and I can finally watch a 1080p source on my 1080p capable LCD TV. The player also supports 24 fps output, which should allow for my 120 Hz TV to show movies without doing tricks such as 2:3 pulldown.

The only real problem I've found with it so far deals with the audio output. There are three options the player allows:

  • PCM - decode in the player, sending multichannel PCM to the receiver
  • Bitstream (Re-encode) - decode in the player, sending a re-encoded DTS bitstream to the receiver
  • Bitstream (Audiophile) - send the primary audio bitstream directly to the receiver, no internal decoding

If using an HDMI connection for audio (which I am), really only the first and third options make any sense. The benefit of the first is that secondary audio tracks on the media would be audible- with the audiophile bitstream, you won't hear these sounds. However, when using the PCM mode and listening to a Dolby Digital/DTS demo DVD, I noticed some severe clipping of the audio track, especially in the rear speakers. When I switched to the audiophile bitstream and let my receiver do the decoding, the audio track was perfect. I want to bring this issue up on AVS Forum to see if anyone else has noticed as well as get in touch with Samsung to see if they know about it.

Since the Blu-ray player has an Ethernet connection to allow things like Netflix, Pandora, and BD-Live to access the internet, I thought it would be interesting to sniff some of the traffic the player was sending over my network. I mostly wanted to capture its initial fact-finding (e.g. DHCP, any update sites it was contacting).

I fired up a little tcpdump magic by running it on my router and writing out the packet capture to my desktop machine where I could read it later. Since my other computers are on an Ethernet switch, I knew I wouldn't see any of the traffic on them, so the capture had to be done on the router.

There wasn't anything too terribly surprising. The first thing captured was the standard DHCP Discover/Offer/Request/ACK sequence between the player and my router. Next came some ARP traffic. Finally, the player sent out a single web request and a DNS request to a firmware update server and received a [NO UPDATE] text response. I won't post the URL here, but it was nothing more than a GET request with the model number, country, and current version of the firmware.

I pulled up the packet dump in Wireshark to get a better idea of what I captured, and found one interesting nugget of information in the DHCP packets:

Option: (t=60,l=46) Vendor class identifier = "Linux 2.6.12-3.1-v10r15_377-uclibc-brcm 7440b0"

Interesting that the Blu-ray player itself runs Linux, but there probably won't be any Linux desktop Blu-ray software for a while. I did a quick nmap scan on the player as well, which revealed all 65536 ports were closed.