Apr 21

I picked up a Samsung BD-C5500 Blu-ray device for our living room TV area as a replacement for an older Sony DVD player. My main goal was to get a single device that could access NetFlix’s online streaming service and have a built-in DVD/Blu-ray player. At a cost of $180 USD I am impressed by what this device offers.
Samsung BD-C5500

Temporary Gap Filler

The Samsung device is an interim solution to our home theater PC (HTPC) gap in our living room. Longer term, I’d like to either build or buy a device over which I have full control of the software: i.e. I choose which OS and HTPC applications to install. Once I get around to implementing a HTPC, the BD-C5500 will be attached to another TV in the house where I expect that we’ll get good use out of the device for another five years or so (especially if Samsung keeps expanding and updating their apps selection).

BTW, the future HTPC will likely run Windows Media Center, Boxee, Plex or XBMC, but it will probably cost $350-$600 to either build or buy a unit that meets my requirements (HD ready, low power consumption, Blu-ray drive, etc). The Aspire Revo 3610, Dell Inspiron Zino HD, ASRock ION 330HT-BD, Zotac ZBOX HD-ID11, Mac Mini, etc. are candidates for the HTPC role.

Alternatives

Unlike many other purchases, I didn’t perform a lot of research into which Blu-ray player to buy. All I was expecting was a basic Netflix user experience similar to the one provided by our Sony PS3 in our basement. Beyond Netflix, having Amazon’s or other on-demand movie services was just a bonus. Since our living room environment isn’t a dedicated home theater setup, I wasn’t concerned about buying a high-end device with the best Blu-ray specifications. While in the store I quickly compared the Samsung device with a Sony device that was $30 USD less expensive, but I decided to buy the Samsung device because the Sony unit was a lot bigger.

I went with the BD-C5500 rather than the BD-C6500 because, as far as I could tell, the only difference between the units is the presence of the built-in wireless networking support in the BD-C6500. Since I already had a network cable in the installation location, wireless was not a requirement. (You can also use a USB-based wireless adapter with the BD-C5500).

To access NetFlix in the near term I could have purchased an HD-capable Roku device for $100 USD, but the Roku doesn’t have a built-in DVD/Blu-ray player and doesn’t appear to have the DLNA support of the BD-C5500 that enables us to browse our photos, videos and music files housed on our NAS server. So we paid $80 more than the Roku HD device, but got Blu-Ray and perhaps a few other features built into a single device.

Samsung Apps

Similar to the Roku and many other new devices, the BD-C5500 has access to an “app store”. In this case it’s the Samsung app store through which a variety of applications can be installed and updated. Blockbuster and VudDu, both HD-capable video on-demand services, and Pandora are the most interesting of the current crop of services available in the app store.
Samsung Apps

Issues?

Although some reviewers had issues with the BD-C5500, I have been happy with the device thus far. Perhaps some of the issues were corrected through several firmware updates Samsung has made available since the device was released earlier this year. You might see low ratings for the device because of those early experiences.

The network speed test is one “issue” that might be more of a bug in Samsung’s speed reporting logic than in the streaming performance of the device: in practice streaming HD videos from Netflix works fine even though the speed test feature reports ~1.5 Mbps. Our actual download speed is ~4 Mbps as observed from other devices in our home.

10 Responses to “Samsung BD-C5500 NetFlix, Blockbuster, VuDu + Blu-ray”

  1. Cedric says:

    Like you, I didn’t do a lot of research for C5500. It’s one of those impulse type of buying because I saw that it was wireless lan ready. Only to find out that it will only work with Samsung’s own USB Wireless Adapter (WIS09ABGN).

    But overall (after doing the cat5e cabling), I like it’s capabilities such as the DLNA but it seems pretty slow in displaying the images. Ohh well, that’s probably a whole other topic.

  2. Julian says:

    No I think that is the topic. The BD-C5500 is extremely slow. On most start ups I have to let the device start all the way up and reboot it again to avoid it from freezing. It freezes mainly on Pandora, VuDu, the USB Drive, and PC Manager Software (which is made by Sumsung but cannot even handle such simple tasks as Fast Forward and Rewind/Reverse). Oh, and forget about running Hulu, ESPN, Comedy Central, PBS, and CBS once you actually start using DNLA (I pay for Playon (which is useless on this player )). All of the Apps are slow, glitchy, and are usually not worth the hassle, especially games. The DVD portion of the player seems to work fine. If you are like me and looking for an integrated internet-tv solution I don’t think this device should be your choice. Most gaming consoles do everything this does and faster. It’s a good BluRay Player especially for the price.

    • ckamps says:

      Hi Julian,

      For us, Netflix was the key app to have in conjunction with a BD player. I looked at some of the other non-video streaming apps, but most of them appear to be toys and not worth our time.

      We’ve been mainly using the Netflix and Blockbuster apps on the BD-C5500 device. These apps have worked fine for us. The Netflix app is reliable and simple to use (at least in our network environment).

      Since Vudu seems to have more recent content than Netflix, we’ll probably start using it. To date, we’ve watched some trailers in HDX without issues. The app itself isn’t as polished as the Netflix app, but it seems usable.

      We’ve occasionally used Pandora without issues. Since we have other ways to stream Pandora through our home speakers, we don’t use it much through this device.

      Since both our PS3 and the BD-C5500 devices are pretty slow when browsing photos from our NAS server, it’s not clear to me that the issues are due to the client, the NAS server or both. I’m not satisfied with the photo gallery UI of either device, but the PS3′s app provides a better transition experience while viewing galleries.

      Cheers,
      Chris

  3. Jason says:

    You mention in the article about getting the BD-C5500 device to work with a NAS server? I have a NAS device connected directly into my wireless router, but it seems that the BD-C5500 doesn’t “see” this device. Any advice on how to get this to recognize this device so I can watch the videos and movies located on it? Thanks in advance!

    • ckamps says:

      If your NAS device acts as a DLNA media server, then the Samsung DVD player should see it. I’ve read that some other recent DVD players can access Windows file shares via SMB/CIFS as well as access DLNA servers, but I believe this Samsung unit can only access DLNA servers.

  4. Plyons says:

    Interestingly I have observed similar discrepancies with my Internet-enabled Samsung HDTV’s speed test. I rarely test at more than 1.5mbps on the TV speed test yet I get 9mbps on other wired devices and can stream 1080p sample clips (2 mins) from Vudu with no problem. I will try a full length movie this weekend to see I can maintain that sort of throughput, but I agree the speedtest seems a bit flaky.

  5. K R B says:

    I purchased a Samsung blu-ray player for the WIFI capabilities and because it plays Netflix and Vudu. My internet connect speed using my laptop is 54 MBps; however the speed test connected (wired & wireless) only returns 1.15 MBps on this player.

    I don’t typically have any problems with streaming from Netflix…but using VUDU is painful. It rebuffers every 30 sec – 5 mins. Can anyone help me figure out the problem?

    • ckamps says:

      Earlier versions of the Samsung BD-C5500 Blu-Ray player did not report the connection speed accurately. More recent firmware versions appear to provide a more accurate reporting. For example, in out 4 Mbps Internet service, I had seen ~1 Mbps reported via the connection test. More recently, with newer firmware, the connection test reports about ~4 Mbps.

  6. Aussie says:

    I’m trying to access hulu, netflix, pandora and amazon from australia. The apps don’t seem to be available. Is there anyway I can get access? Happy to explore diverting the dns etc…

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