Samsung HW-D7000 Review
A/V Receiver with Built-in 3D Blu-ray Player, $599
The Samsung HW-D7000 combines two essential Home Theater components, an A/V receiver and a Blu-ray player, into one convenient package.
I've never been a big proponent of these hybrid devices because one part of the beast either dies or becomes outdated before the other.
But after dealing with the tangle of wires behind my equipment, I look favorably on anything that can reduce the writhing snakes. And I can imagine that there is a great design efficiency when melding two compatible units into one case.
In addition, the HW-D7000 includes three of today's hottest features, 3D, Wi-fi connectivity and Internet content providers. The Blu-ray player is 3D compatible and of course the A/V receiver can deliver that signal to your 3D TV.
The unit includes a built-in Wi-fi adapter that reduces the wire clutter by one.
Through Samsung's Smart Hub, the unit provides a full array of streaming content from the likes of Vudu, Netflix, Pandora and BBC News. And the Samsung Apps store offers an ever expanding buffet of choices in categories such as Games, Lifestyle and Information.
If you just bought a new HDTV, especially a 3D TV, and are looking to upgrade your A/V receiver and Blu-ray player, then the reasonably- priced, well-performing, feature-rich HW-D7000 is a natural choice.
Out of the Box
The Samsung HW-D7000 is a substantial piece of gear. Though considering the designers are shoehorning a full-fledged 3D Blu-ray player into an 840W 7.2 channel A/V receiver, it's surprising this hybrid beast isn't larger.
At the bottom of the front of this all black receiver is a door that swings down to reveal a long line of operational buttons (that are mirrored on the remote control).
To their right is an ASC Microphone mini-jack input (for setting up the Musical Room Calibration feature that balances the speakers), a USB port, a Composite Video Input (with matching stereo Audio Ins) and a headphone jack.
In between the Input Select and Master Volume knobs is the white LED display screen, which also serves as the Blu-ray player door. When you hit the Open button, with a bit of design flair, the display shifts out and down, exposing the player's slot ready to ingest your disc.
The back of this receiver is packed with a variety of inputs and outputs. Starting on the top left is a LAN jack (if you decide to employ the often speedier and more reliable wired Internet connection).
As part of the package, Samsung includes an iPod/iPhone dock, which plugs in next to the LAN jack.
Moving down the line, you have one HDMI out and four HDMI ins.
Below, you can plug the basic FM antenna (included in the package) to the connector. The combination works fine for pulling in local channels. If you wish to extend the range, you might recruit a more powerful antenna.
The tuner only picks up FM signals and not AM channels or SIRIUS satellite radio.
To the right are three Composite Video Inputs (with matching stereo Audio Ins), one Composite Video Out, two Component Video Ins and one Component Video Out.
Next are three Optical Digital Audio Ins and one Coaxial In.
Finally, the speaker connections include two RCA outs to powered subwoofers, and seven speaker terminals, which accept either raw wires or banana plugs. (Since the HW-D7000 is not a Home Theater in a Box, it does not include speakers.)
Before I discuss my Blu-ray player checklist, let me mention a few points about the A/V receiver.
To begin, I find A/V receivers more complicated to setup and use than HDTVs. I'm sure that my perception is partially colored because I'm more familiar with TVs, but receivers often have more components to them that have to be connected and calibrated.
For example, the HW-D7000 includes an FM tuner, which is a common enough device. But beyond the fact that there is no dedicated FM Tuner selection button on the remote, I defy you to figure out which buttons to push to set a channel into memory.
Simply, if you are a manly man, defy all your primitive instincts and crack open the manual to assist you in navigating through the jungle of features. Luckily, for the most part, the manual is clearly written and informative.
Please don't form the wrong impression. The HW-D7000 is not necessarily difficult to use or master, but it includes so many features that some of the buttons on the remote serve double duty. Just expect to take an evening gaining your bearings.
Once you do, I think that you will find a full bodied receiver, one that can handle the high-end audio codecs like Dolby True HD, DTS ES Discrete 6.1, DTS 96/24, DTS Neo 6, and DTS-HD Master Audio.
The HW-D7000 also offers 12 SFE (Sound Field Effect) modes like Concert, Jazz Club and good old fashioned Stereo.
Your ears will constantly be perked with these and other audio enhancements, like 3D Sound, of which the manual declares, "You can enjoy more natural and vivid surround sound with enriched tones by adjusting the depth of sound using the level options."
Depending on the speakers that you choose to pair with this receiver, the 840W of power should be enough to fill a good sized room.
I did encounter a couple of minor peeves. For one, I like the concept of an iPhone/iPod dock and if you have a device in the cradle, the receiver sees it automatically as one of My Devices.
The oddity is that if you access your iPod and go to playback your music by Album, the songs are listed alphabetically and they play in that order. You cannot convince the Samsung programming to play the songs in the original sequence.
That might not seem like a big deal to a generation that has downloaded singles all of their short digital lives. But those of us that were weaned on vinyl, the idea of playing the songs on a concept album like Days of Future Past in alphabetical order is just too far out, man. Synching up The Wizard of Oz to an A to Z sorted The Wall blows my mind.
I mentioned this quirk to a Samsung technical representative and he said that he sent a note to HQ. Let's hope that a firmware upgrade addresses this situation.
One last point, when you power on the HW-D7000, it will start the Blu-ray player if there is a disc in there. But more often, I simply want to select my TV input instead. Of course, if I remembered to take the disc out of the player after I watched it, I wouldn't have that specific problem.
But actually, it highlights a more global issue. On other receivers that I have experienced, the remote control has dedicated input buttons, which allowed you to change from a set top box input to a game console to whatever else was connected to the receiver.
This Samsung remote does not supply those buttons. It's not an insurmountable issue, but life would be easier with dedicated input buttons.
For the rest of the review of the HW-D7000, I will focus on the Blu-ray side of the device.
I recently updated our Blu-ray Buying Guide and I have begun to use the Guide's checklist as the structure for Blu-ray player reviews, which is what I will do next.)
The HW-D7000 plays back 3D Blu-rays as well as the more common 2D Blu-rays. Of course, to watch 3D movies, you will need a 3D TV. It doesn't matter if your 3D TV requires the active shutter or passive polarizing glasses, this Samsung will work with either.
The 3D Settings menu is basic. You can designate your TV's screen size and that's about it. Like most Blu-ray players, this one cannot convert 2D photos or videos to a 3D-like image.
I have seen a wider array of Internet content providers on other Blu-ray players and HDTVs, but the HW-D7000 supplies all of the big names who can stream enough content to keep the banks overflowing.
As a reminder, to use an Internet capable device, you will need Internet service in your house. Then by connecting the player to your home network through a router, you can stream content like movies from Netflix through your player to your TV.
Also, if you are serious about obtaining good picture quality when you are streaming movies, you will need fairly fast and robust bandwidth from your Internet provider, ideally around 10Mbps.
I know some sites suggest as low as 2.5Mbps, but if anyone else in your house is accessing the network, the video playback will deteriorate. At least try to have around 5Mbps.
Luckily, many Internet providers are now offering service with speeds up to 60Mbps. See if the speed you now have works for your streaming needs and then rev it up if you require more.
Once your HW-D7000 is plugged into your home network, it is possible to play photos, music and movies directly from your DLNA-compatible computer or media server through this DLNA certified device.
The HW-D7000 has a wireless adapter integrated in the receiver and requires no additional components. Though, I still prefer the speed and reliability of a wired connection over the wireless solution. It's also often much simpler to set up a wired network.
If you choose to go wired, the LAN connector is located on the back panel.
I've discussed the design of this Samsung earlier. It's black exterior should blend with the other components in the stack. If you stick it in a cabinet, you will need to have access to the front to insert the DVDs. And the remote control will need an unobstructed view of its sensor.
All the DVDs and Blu-rays (2D and 3D) played back flawlessly on the HW-D7000.
With some caveats, the manual lists the various media that the HT-D7000 will play, BD-ROM, BD-RE/-R, DVD-VIDEO, DVD-RW/-R/+R, DVD+RW, Audio CD (CD-DA), CD-RW/-R, DVD-RW/-R (V). I did not try to play any non-commercially produced media on this player.
Here's a table of file formats that it can handle.
The HW-D7000 supplies one USB port on the front lower right corner. There is no SD card slot.
In the USB port you can insert a flash drive full of photos (JPEG) or songs (MP3 or WMA) or video clips (DivX, MKV, and MP4) and play them back through your TV. The port will accept thumb drives, USB hard drives and compatible MP3 players or digital cameras.
The slideshow menu is pretty basic, for example, it offers three transition speeds and six effects, but no Fade. You cannot add music to your presentation.
Since the HW-D7000 is a combo A/V receiver and Blu-ray player, the concept of 7.1 audio outputs is moot. The unit does have speaker connections for seven surrounds and two powered subwoofers.
The unit does not offer a second HDMI output. This feature is only useful in certain situations and not necessary for the majority of consumers.
For example, if you have two displays like a TV and a projector, you can connect one to HDMI 1 and the other display to HDMI 2 on the player.
The retail price for this A/V receiver and Blu-ray player combo is $599. I'm finding it online for about 25% less, which makes it much more appealing.
If you are comparison shopping, remember that the HW-D7000 is two components in one. Also realize that the online price for a stand-alone 3D Blu-ray player is now hovering in the $150 range. And manufacturers are making capable A/V receivers for around $300.
Of course, you should factor in the value of the convenience provided by a one-piece, two-component unit like this Samsung.
With the HW-D7000, Samsung has melded a 3D Blu-ray player and an A/V receiver into a feature-rich, well-performing hybrid that can upgrade two pieces of your home theater gear in one fell swoop.