Customer Reviews: Samsung HT-BD1250 Blu-ray Home Theater System (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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on May 11, 2009
After deciding on a Samsung HTIB system to integrate with my 2-year-old Samsung 46" HDTV, I came across this HT-BD1250 system at Best Buy with all the features I wanted (Bluray, surround sound with wireless to the rear speakers, Anynet+ integration, iPod integration), plus a few that I decided were "nice-to-have" (wireless network integration/Pandora/Netflix). Once I realized I would need to add the Samsung SWA-4000 wireless speaker amplifier and additional HDMI and optical cables for integration with my TV and HD/DVR cable box, the total package through Amazon was by far the best deal and way to go.

First quick note: You DO NOT need anything other than BASIC HDMI cables, which when purchased as a package here with Amazon are 80+% cheaper (even with the shipping charge from the third-party vendors) than if you buy them at Best Buy or other brick/mortar. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE on so-called "higher end" HDMI cables.

As for the HTIB system itself, I found that the documentation guided me through most of my installation/cabliing scenarios, and everything worked pretty much the first time once I powered everything up. I needed to make a few calls to Samsung tech support to get everything configured the way I wanted (I had some specific questions about the video/resolution modes switching between HD and non-HD inputs), but the support was English-speaking and reasonably competent. (I only got one "bum steer" from their tech support when I was making what turned out to be a user error on my part with the iPod integration, but the tech also didn't identify it correctly and wanted me to send the unit in for service at my own expense...not an acceptable option. I later walked away from it for a few hours and then returned back to it with a clear head, and figured out my error in using the setup menus, and it turned out all was well after all.)

I should probably mention my wiring/integration setup: I have a Samsung LN-4661F HD TV, a Motorola HD/DVR cable box from my cable company, and now my Samsung HT-BD1250 HTIB. Cabling is as follows: HDMI Out from the Motorola HD/DVR cable box to HDMI In 1 on the TV (CATV audio and video are integrated on the HDMI), HDMI Out from the HD-BD1250 HTIB to HDMI In 2 on the TV (for DVD/BD video), and Optical Audio Out 1 from the TV to Optical Audio In 1 on the HD-BD1250 (to feed the CATV audio back from the TV to be reproduced through the HTIB's sound amplifier).

I attempted to use a "standard" USB wireless network adapter to integrate with my home wireless network and found that it was unable to detect it; I suspect I could have made it work with some additional initial configuration first on my laptop, but I ended up scrapping that idea and I simply ordered the Samsung Wireless adapter for this unit, and it integrated perfectly with my home network in minutes. If you're really tech-savvy and think you can get a "standard" USB wireless adapter configured to work with this, I suppose you could try to do so and save $30 or $40, but for $79.99 the Samsung WIS09ABGN adapter works right out of the box and is a supported solution.

As for the wireless network/Internet integration itself, I've tested Pandora and it works well; haven't tested Netflix on demand yet. I also have yet to be able to figure out how to get integration with my PC via wireless to work as a source input (like to access music/multimedia I have on my PC), but it's an advertised feature of this system and I'm confident I can hack my way through and make that work eventually...not a priority for me, though, just another "nice to have".

The iPod integration works fairly well, but I'm a little disappointed that I was not able to figure out how to make "Shuffle" functionality work...I seem to be stuck playing my music in the order it's stored in my playlists. Not sure yet if this is a limitation or if I just haven't figured out how to do it yet.

The wireless speaker connection to the rear speakers with the SWA-4000 configured well pretty much the first time (I just had to play with the power cycling upon initial configuration) and the sound has been loud and clear. I did experience exactly one sound dropout on it the first day which immediately resolved and has not recurred, but it got my attention and I'm concerned about it based on reviews I read of other Samsung HTIB systems with wireless rear speaker connections. We shall see.

Configured out of the box, sound to the rear speakers only comes out if the input source provides it (like from a Dolby 5.1-enhanced DVD or BD), but I found that by cycling through the Dolby Effect Modes on the remote to the "Matrix" setting, I can hear sound through all 5 speakers all the time...exactly what I want, and the sound is great.

Another quick item to mention: I tested a couple of "standard" DVDs and the "1080p upscaling" feature of the BD player works well. As a result of this, I plan to only choose the added expense of Bluray discs in cases when I know there will be real value added, either feature-wise or sound/picture-wise (example, I purposely chose The Dark Knight as my first Bluray disc purchase). For my 45-year-old eyes and ears, upscaled DVD will be more than adequate in most cases.

Finally, I found that even with Anynet+ capability, I still needed to access all 3 of my remotes (TV, HTIB, and CATV) to control all needed functionality. Samsung support informed me that Anynet+ capability would allow integrated power on/off and basic volume/channel control, but it would not allow advanced function control on my TV such as P.SIZE, etc. Keep your expectations realistic on what Anynet+ will and won't provide. I solved this by also purchasing a Logitech Harmony One universal remote (which I have reviewed separately), and this product, while expensive, is a true one-remote solution for my new home theater setup, and one I would recommend highly.

Bottom line (for this reviewer): For me, the HT-BD1250 HTIB was not a true one-box solution. However, after adding the SWA-4000 wireless speaker amplifier, 2 inexpensive HDMI cables and 1 inexpensive optical audio cable, the Samsung WIS09ABGN adapter for wireless network/Internet integration, and the Logitech Harmony One universal remote, I am now extremely pleased with the result, and I look forward to using my new Home Theater every day after work. I feel like I'm finally fulfilling to potential of the HD TV that I purchased 2 years ago...and I now know that was certainly NOT the case with my old setup of just the TV and my HD/DVR box with a 5-way component cable providing the connection.

The Samsung HT-BD1250 HTIB is a good solution if you do your research and you set your expectation levels properly.

= = = = =

Review update from author:

I spoke to Samsung Level II tech support, and they informed me that (a) PC integration is not available - the placard included with the system is "not exactly true", and (b) Shuffle functionality on iPod is not available, despite the fact that Level I support told me I should be able to "use any feature that I can use conventionally on an iPod". Again, "not exactly true".

These are not showstoppers, but I am disappointed in those 2 shortcomings. Not enough to return the unit, but enough to hold my rating at only 4 stars instead of 5.

= = = = =

Review update #2 from author:

Signed up for a trial subscription of Netflix, and tried the Instant Queue/Streaming to my HTIB. It works well, but we definitely found that the picture quality was not nearly DVD quality (let alone BD quality). We watched National Treasure 2. I'm sure this has to do with the speed of my Internet connection (<3Mb/sec) and my 802.11g wireless network (I don't have 802.11n on my older router). Not enough to ruin the movie for us, but definitely a factor worth noting.

Still, having Netflix Streaming On Demand for a subset of their movie offerings is a nice entertainment option for us.

Review rating still stands at 4 stars out of 5 for me.

= = = = =

Review update #3 from author: (2 years later)

After reasonably good performance from this system for about 1.5 years, I started to experience more than occasional sound dropouts from the rear wireless speakers, and then worse still, neither DVD nor BluRay discs would play to completion. The player would just stop and die, and the only way to resolve it was to completely power down and restart all my components. This problem became consistent with all discs. With the unit out of warranty, I decided the hassle/cost factor to try to repair it just wasn't worth the effort, so I began shopping for a replacement system (eventually settled on a Sony HTIB), and I disconnected all the components of this Samsung system and literally threw it all in the trash.

Review rating now changed from a 4 to a 1 star as a result of this unit unable to fulfill its long-term requirement for me.
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on November 10, 2009
I have been using this unit for about 4 months now and was very happy with it even though sometimes I have noticed that it just shuts down in the middle of watching a movie. Today it prompted me for a firmware upgrade. Since it is connected to the internet the firmware upgrade was automatic. But after the firmware upgrade the unit just shows LOAD message and doesn't do anything. A Google search reveals that many people have the same issue with the firmware upgrade. When contacted Samsung tech support they asked me to ship the unit to them for repair. Even though this problem was reported days back, I am surprised they haven't pulled the firmware upgrade, also the support is not very helpful in that they are not willing to make a correction to my address on their record even though I requested it twice. Bad firmware upgrade and poor support makes this product bad.

Update 11/25/2009 :

Today CVE called me to inform me that I have to pay about 160USD for repairs for my BD player I have bought only 2 months back. I Called samsung support and they told me I am out of warranty since I bought the product in 2004 (BD player in 2004 :-). After talking 1 hour with Samsung support and uploading purchase proof, they have agreed to start repair in 2 - 4 weeks. And I have given my address atleast 5 times to them and still they ask every time I call them.

The firmware issue and the poor support makes this product worse.

Update 12/05/2009 :

I still haven't received the unit even though their website says the case is closed. No tracking number or whatsoever. Called the customer service, and I was told that it is repaired and the customer service wouldn't know when it will be actually shipped. 25 days without a player now and my Netflix Blu ray disk is just sitting there. Never another Samsung product again.

Update 12/14/2009 :

After more than 1 month of shipping my bricked product to Samsung support ( CVE ) , I haven't received the unit yet. I have made atleast 10 calls to them and every time I get an answer that it will be repaired in 5 - 7 business days. I hope they work 5 business days a week so it is already 20 business days after they have received the unit. What a horrible customer service they have. I will never buy another samsung product ever.
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on May 14, 2009
Bought a Samsung LN52A650 before xmas which I thoroughly love and have been debating what audio to match it up with. Blu-ray and 5.1 were a must but buying both a player and 5.1 amp plus matching speakers/subwoofer can get pretty spendy. TA-DA...this thing shows up. Not being 5.1 savvy before this I wasn't prepared for the rear speakers to pretty much stay quiet but when they get the right feed its awesome.

My set up:
DirecTV HDDVR hdmi to the LN52A650 for broadcast TV.
BD1250 hdmi to LN52A650 for BD/DVD/CD/IPod/Pandora/FM/camera/etc.
Network cables wired direct from DSL modem to BD1250, LN52A650 and HDDVR. (The wife loves Pandora...check out their website if you love music and aren't familiar with them.)
Optical audio from DirecTV HDDVR to HT-BD1250 if I want to listen to 5.1 from DirecTV. Note: It says in the LN52A650 documents that going from it to another audio system is always at best "stereo" no matter what type of connector you use. The heck with that ...I went optical from the HDDVR to the 1250. Ratatooie via StarzHD sounds 5.1 fantastic.

This new setup let me "retire" my old Sony "stereo only" amp, an old Panasonic CD player, a Panasonic "progressive" DVD player and a couple of tall Sony speakers. (That stuff is now hooked up and rockin' in the garage.) The vacated shelf space is now occupied by perfect sized wicker baskets that my wife found that are holding much of our DVD collection.

I still use the 3 remotes because I haven't figured out how to get all the functionality I need without them. I usually watch ESPN so, as I've always done, I hit the "ON" button on the DirecTV remote and it fires up the TV and the HDDVR. I left the speakers on the TV set to "on" so on start up the broadcast TV sound comes over them. Note: The DirecTV remote will turn the HT-BD1250 on if you set it up but you have to move the switch at the top, etc., etc....pain in the butt.

At first having to use one of the Samsung remotes to fire up the 1250 bothered me but I've changed my mind. The reason? We have TV watching visitors from time to time so for them to just plop down, hit the DirecTV "ON" button and start watching "without" the surround sound booming away is my preference. The LN52A650's speakers are good enough. What's cool is that if they pop in a disc it automatically fires up the 5.1 and the TV speakers shut down. If you want to listen to a broadcast over 5.1 just hit tools and select the 1250 for sound.

The "Any-Net" feature enables the 1250 to be available for use from many of the menus on the Samsung remotes. Also the volume can be adjusted by any of the remotes, including the DirecTV remote. Pretty easy!

And last but not least hitting the "Off" button on the DirecTV remote shuts the HDDVR, LN52A650 AND the BD1250 off. Apparently the "Any-Net" talking between the TV and the 1250 must tell it to take a break too. I really like one can inadvertantly leave the amp on.

Question to any of you with a similar TV and Blu-ray. I'm not really seeing any "dramatic" difference between the 1080i HD stuff I get off the dish (which is stunning by the way)and a blu-ray movie. Should there be?
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on December 2, 2009
I got this product around the end of September. Nothing great but for the price it seemed to have a ton of features. However, on November 13th I downloaded a software update at Samsung's request and the unit went dead. I would run out of space before I could tell you all of the trouble I've had with Samsung Customer Service regarding this unit. Either they are overwhelmed by the phone calls they are getting or they just plain don't care. Either way, I still don't have the unit back and no one can tell me when I will get either my unit or a replacement. The problem with the software first came up in September but Samsung continues to send the update out causing more and more units to go bad. Of course no one at Samsung can explain why things are so screwed up and basically they have a list of standard answers designed to get you off the phone. Once again, DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY on this product. I can't speak to Samsung's other products but if their handling of this issue is any indication of how they cause problems they can't fix, I will not gamble my money on any more of their products.
In summary, the product broke when they sent out an software update. Once you send it back you can expect to wait a minimum of "10 to 14 business days" to perhaps get the unit back. No one can answer the question as to what you should do if prompted to download another software update except that if you do not and you subsequently have problems you may be voiding the warranty. Should it be this difficult to buy someone's product? I vote NO!!!
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on November 14, 2009
This player was decent, I only had minor gripes about sound quality but over all I was really pleased with it. Things went down hill quickly. The unit asked if it could upgrade its firmware, seemed like a good idea at the time. It ran through two firmware updates and now I have a shiny black brick in my living room. After the first update it turned on, looked liked there was some new widgets. I noticed that streaming from Blockbuster became an option but I never got to test it out because it found a second firmware update it wished to install. After this second upgrade the unit hasn't been functioning correctly. The only thing that works is the FM radio...

Samsung tech support appears to know about this issue. Their tech on the phone was polite but you could tell that they knew of no resolution for this widely reported problem. The best they could do was to promise to have a tech support person call me back within three days to arrange having the unit repaired.

I'd stay away from this unit until everything with the firmware has been ironed out. Once I the issue has been resolved I'll post an update.

--UPDATE 11/16/09--
Talked to Samsung (5th call regarding this), they could care less. To get resolution on the firmware issue I have to mail the device in and wait 4-6 weeks. This unit deserves nothing better then the rubbish bin.
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on December 1, 2009
I normally try not to review items unless something is spectaculary good or bad. In this case, it is spectacularly bad. I was indecisive about writing this review due to the actual problem being the firmware update. Although after dealing with Samsung on the phone for a month now, I am not looking back.

I owned this unit for less than 2 weeks before I did a firmware update, which in turn destroyed my unit. It just sat there displaying "load" and did nothing else. I called samsung and quickly mailed it back to them, racking up 30 dollars in packaging and shipping costs. After 3 or so weeks of waiting and checking on the status on their website, I decided to call to actually deal with a person.

Low and behold, my unit was not repairable, and had to be approved for a replacement. Not sure what exactly their approval system consists of, but it took them a week to approve mine. Now after a month, I call them back and come to find out, I now have to mail back all the speakers and cables and such in order for them to complete my exchange replacement. Now I must go to the UPS store again, pack up the speakers, and mail all that back to them. Probably looking at another month before I can watch a blu-ray on my system with surround sound. I can just imagine how long this process would have taken if I was not proactive about getting my unit back.

Apparently this firmware problem has been around for months, and it is still destroying units when users are prompted to update the firmware, which is pretty much a necessity for blu-ray. This whole fiasco is a joke and Samsung should be ashamed of themselves. I for one am not giving them another penny out of my pocket.

So if you are on the fence about buying this product, or just plain wanting to buy it, save yourself a potentially HUGE headache and buy a different brand. I deeply regret this purchase and hope nobody else has to go through this bs with samsung. Good luck.
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on November 13, 2009
Using Unit for 1 month. Today asked me to load new firmware. Everything looked great, then it powered off as as it said it would. When powered on, it is stuck in "Load" mode. Googled Samsung Load and there is no solution but send unti back in for repair. Major issue with product. Do not buy!!!
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on December 5, 2009
After going through 3 Samsung HT-BD1250s(not purchased from Amazon), I gave up and(thanks to the seller's sympathy) exchanged the last one for an LG sound system which works as advertised. The 1st Samsung died after 1 week of use and was replaced. The 2nd unit became stuck during a firmware download and took 6 weeks to repair. The repaired unit would not play Blue Ray disks and the seller(with highly qualified technical support personnel) was not able to download firmware to fix the problem. The 3rd unit wouldn't play dvds after successfully playing only one dvd. Sympathy from Samsung? None! They won't admit they are having serious problems with this sound system but, they are.
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on September 18, 2009
Samsung has the worst customer service I have ever dealt with. I sent it my unit for repair because the rear wireless speakers were not working. It cost me $50 for shipping and packaging to send it in. When I got my unit back, it was damaged, and not from shipping. It was obvious someone had dropped it at the repair shop because the box was in perfect condition and there was no damage in the packing materials. I called and reported it the following business day, which was back in June, and it is now mid September. After all this time and after multiple calls I still have no replacement unit or refund. Samsung has never called me back as they said they would numerous times. There is no way to get an issue escalated to a higher level when you call their customer service number. I essentially have paid hundreds of dollars for a Samsung home theater system that Samsung has possession of and have no confidence I will ever see my money back. Needless to say, I have since bought a Sony and it is working great!
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on November 21, 2009
The product seemed like a good buy an I bought it in July. I don't watch movies except during holidays etc. The first 10 or so movies both Blu Ray and standard definition were fine. The picture was good. However, about a week ago, I noticed that the DVD was briefly freezing on play back. I switched DVDs and watched ones I had watched on this system before. The problem continued. I did an online chat with support (probably some one from India based on language and spelling). He told me to try a firm ware update. Did that and it did not fix the problem. What bugged me was what followed. I have to now ship it to New Jersey AT MY COST and they will take 28 days to fix it and return it to me. I am astounded by the fact that they do not have a facilty in the Dallas Fort Worth Area that I could carry it in to. All the disruption and cost associated with this makes this a bad buy on my part (something I hate admitting though I have to). You should be aware of this issue if you want to buy any products from Samsung. If this is their level of service, you are probably better off getting a different product. I have had 3 samsung tvs for over 2 years and they work fine so far. However, this warranty experience sours everything for me.

They did fix and return the product to me. It seems to work now. However, they cancelled the scheduled repair ticket because they claimed to have not received the product on time. Once it was pointed out that UPS had delivered it to them, they created a new ticket necessitating a further delay. They never tell you what the issue was or what they fixed. All in all, not a very reassuring experience.
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