Even before the price slashing that followed Toshiba's decision to turn off HD-DVD's life support, its players were significantly cheaper than their Blu-ray equivalents. Only the PS3 could be labeled a Blu-ray bargain, but we're finally starting to see some affordable supporters of the winning hi-def format – such as this £200 Samsung.

Of course, that doesn't make the BD-1400 a bargain. For starters, it doesn't support the latest 1.1 Blu-ray specification. That's no disaster if you don't care for bonus extras like picture-in-picture video commentary, but still, it's not a promising sign for a player to be outdated before it even hits the shelves.

Ugly mug

Call us shallow, but the BD-1400 is also quite an odd-looking player. That strange white line running below the standard black finish makes it look a tad cheap, and it feels quite flimsy and lightweight.

But enough of the cheap shots – how does it perform? For the money, very well. The BD-1400 can deliver a wide and vivid colour palette that makes the most of both bright hues and darker tones. It's also classy with fast-paced action, and is capable of delivering even the fastest pans without a hint of motion blur.

Not quite the hi-def dream

Delve deeper, though, and this Samsung is unsatisfying compared to the best that Sony and Pioneer has to offer. It lacks detail in the shadows, and jumped occasionally in 24fps mode.

Still, at least there's the comfort of HDMI 1.3A connectivity, which means it's capable of streaming HD audio – including Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD – to your AV receiver.

If you're looking for a bargain introduction to Blu-ray, then the BD-1400 is certainly a viable alternative to the PS3 and a good buy at £200. But the truth is that Sony's console and Panasonic's DMP-BD30 both offer considerably better performance for not much more cash.


Stuff says... 

Samsung BD-1400 review

A bona fide Blu-ray bargain – but Sony and Panasonic's machines still trump it for performance-per-pound value