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Review: Samsung HT-BD1250T

Written on Oct 19, 2009 by Thomas S. and filed under Reviews, Samsung

The Samsung HT-BD1250T is an all new Blu-ray home theater system that now includes full Netflix and Pandora streaming integration. Starting at an MSRP of $549.99, Samsung includes all major components to get a home theater up and running, including a near-endless supply of streaming movies when paired with a Netflix account. With such a huge stack of features in one small setup, is there anything this HTIB can’t do?

samsung HT-BD1250T

Samsung HT-BD1250T Specifications

  • Built-in Decoders: Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital, DTS decoder, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD decoder, Dolby TrueHD
  • Output Power / Total: 1000 Watt
  • Amplifier Output Details: 166 Watt – 3 Ohm – 5 channel(s) ( surround ), 170 Watt – 3 Ohm – 1 channel(s) ( subwoofer )
  • Features: iPod ready, USB host function, Netflix and Pandora Ready
  • Supported Media: CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD, CD, BD-ROM
  • Output Resolution: 1080p
  • Connections: 1 x component video output ( RCA phono x 3 ) – rear, 1 x composite video/audio output ( RCA phono x 3 ) – rear, 1 x HDMI output ( 19 pin HDMI Type A ) – rear, USB

Setup

The Samsung HT-BD1250T was easy to get setup out of the box with pre-labeled wires and easy to assemble speaker stands. Samsung includes a unique speaker stand that can attach to the bottom or rear of each speaker, which lets you use it as a vertical stand resting on a platform, or as a horizontal stand to hang on a wall. For a clean home integration, wall mounted speakers and wires mounted behind drywall can really make a difference in a cool setup. For the average user though, the standard mounting position with the speakers resting next to the TV or on separate tables works very well.

samsung HT-BD1250T satellitesamsung HT-BD1250T satellite back

samsung HT-BD1250T center back

Once the speakers were setup and everything was connected, we were quick to notice that this system does not include any sort of auto-calibration. Unlike almost every other surround system we have tested, Samsung doesn’t include a small mic for use with auto-calibrate software to set the distances of the speakers from your listening location. Instead you get a screen which asks you to manually set the distance from each speaker to your seat. This was slightly annoying, but since you really only need to set this up once, it only adds time onto the initial setup.

samsung HT-BD1250T subwoofer

Usability

From a cosmetic standpoint this Samsung HTiB system looks very elegant, with a streamlined glossy front, and circular LED-outlined volume control on the top. This is one of the few systems that would look and feel at home on the top shelf of an electronics cabinet, instead of hidden away. The front panel gives a readout of what is currently going on with the receiver; like which input it is on, or what mode it is in. Another handy feature that is almost required because of the bright LED-outlined volume control is a dimming mode, which disables the top LEDs, and reduces the brightness of the front screen by roughly 50%.

samsung HT-BD1250T buttons

Another cool feature of this home theater system is its touch-sensitive controls mounted on the top edge of the receiver. To turn the system on or off, just glide your finger button. Secondary controls such as eject, play/pause, skip, or function are also touch-sensitive to quickly start a movie as soon as you insert the disc. The circular volume knob though is analog, and is controlled just like the early iPods; where you rotate the control to adjust the volume level.

samsung HT-BD1250T remote

For day-to-day use the system was easy to control with the supplied remote and receiver mounted buttons. If you normally use the stereo in one particular mode, turning it off after each sitting, the system once turned back on will automatically start in that mode. I found that when I was using it primarily with my satellite TV, I left it on the digital audio mode all the time. I actually rarely used the remote, since it was fun brushing my finger over the touch-sensitive button each time to turn the receiver on. When using other features like NetFlix, Pandora, or controlling a connected iPod, the remote is a must.

Performance

Audio performance was very good for a small to medium sized room. The satellite style speakers were good for high and midrange audio, with an added bass boost coming from the subwoofer. Out of the box the speakers need some slight calibration for the room, but once that is done the speakers can be matched up very well. Surround separation is very good, especially in movies that take full advantage of a surround sound system. Peak volume levels were well over my comfortable listening levels, staying distortion free up until the highest volume levels.

The first night I had the speakers setup, I noticed that one of the speakers almost sounded blown out when deeper pitched voices were talking on screen. After some quick investigation, I found that the center channel speaker wire was touching the body of the speaker just enough to rattle against it. That was the only speaker quirk I noticed throughout the entire review.

One area I feel Samsung really needs to improve with this system is how it handles an outside digital audio stream. Most receivers have a small delay from when your outside source starts sending audio to when the stereo starts playing it. This is the time the receiver needs to buffer the signal. Most systems take under a second for this process, where the HT-BD1250T took upwards of 4-5 seconds. This was frustrating when my satellite DVR was feeding the receiver, and each time I would skip forward on the remote, the video would be playing but I wouldn’t get audio for 4-5 seconds. If you never interrupt the signal, the initial delay probably won’t be a problem.

Blu-ray support was flawless, working exactly how it should be. Loading time for movies was low, and the remote was easy to follow to navigate on-screen menus.

iPod Support

iPod support on the Samsung HT-BD1250T was excellent, although still had one area that could be improved. The integration allows for full viewing of file information of video or music titles. This allows you to view artists, songs, song information, and even movie information on the receiver’s display, instead of trying to navigate the system blind. While listening to music or watching a movie, the controls on the remote are fully supported; letting you pause/play, fast forward, skip, etc. One annoying thing about browsing the music once you have found your album though is songs are sorted alphabetically, not by number of order.

samsung HT-BD1250T ipod cradle

Video support was similar to the Panasonic SC-PT770, whereas you still needed to view movies over a composite video cable. This meant you needed to switch video sources on your TV when watching iPod videos, then switch back when you were done. Is it too much to ask for built-in HDMI up-conversion? Besides that everything was as seamless as the music playback.

NetFlix and Pandora Streaming

Online content streaming is the direction home theaters are going, and by Samsung including this with the HT-BD1250T, it really shows they are trying to stay ahead of the curve. Streaming allows you to make last minute decisions on what you want to watch, and it also means you have a library of thousands of songs or movies at your fingertips.

The Netflix integration was great, pairing up easily with your account with a device activation key. Once it is associated with your account, you have access to your Instant Queue, which you populate with videos through the Netflix site. Compared to more advanced Netflix players like the one built into the Xbox 360, which lets you browse into categories outside of your queue, the Samsung implementation is more limited. This isn’t too hard to get over though, since you just go to your computer, log into the Netflix site, and search for movies to add into your list.

Video support includes SD and HD videos, with content taking 5-10 seconds to buffer before playing. Watching an HD copy of Serenity the quality was superb; identical to viewing that same movie over Netflix on my Xbox 360. At only $8.99 for a base Netflix plan that supports unlimited online viewing, it’s a steal compared to pay-per-view or even premium channel alternatives.

Users can also take advantage of the Pandora streaming audio service. Simply enter your login credentials and you’ll be able to play any of your custom radio channels.

Conclusion

The Samsung HT-BD1250T Blu-ray Home Theater System is a great all-in-one system combining the best of multiple worlds. Users get full iPod integration for personal music or mobile video libraries, online video and audio streaming through Netflix and Pandora, and Blu-ray video playback for the ultimate in HD viewing. Out of the box the system was easy to setup, even if it took slightly more time needing manual speaker calibration. This system also had a much greater sense of style compared to other systems, so you shouldn’t have to worry about hiding it in the depths of some electronics cabinet. Overall with a retail price of $549 and a street price of $479, this system is hard to beat for the features you get.

Pros

  • Netflix and Pandora support built-in
  • Very good iPod integration
  • Dual-purpose speaker stands
  • Good audio quality

Cons

  • Digital audio input slow to buffer
  • No auto-calibration for speakers

Editor’s Rating – 4 out of 5 Stars – Editor’s Choice

htib_editorschoice_badge


4 Responses to “Review: Samsung HT-BD1250T”

  1. Can I hook up my Polk Audio speaker by regular speaker wire?

    By Sean Kim on Oct 20, 2009 | Reply
  2. Did anyone else have issue with loud fan noise from the tiny fan? Otherwise great system with good (not great) sound.

    By Anon on Nov 24, 2009 | Reply
  3. can you explain the speaker calibration? is the speaker distance from the samsung receiver or where i am sitting in the room?

    By on1wheel on Dec 7, 2009 | Reply
  4. It’s where you are sitting in the room.

    By tboneturner56 on Apr 20, 2010 | Reply

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