This information is specifically for the C-series models like the BD-C5500 and BD-C6500, but it may apply to other models too, so I'm going to start a separate thread for it.
I was initially happy to find that my Samsung players would play most of my existing video files, but I found it frustrating that many would not allow FF/RW or jumping to a time index (not good when you have to take a break from a long movie!). So I did some research with different tools and formats, and this is what I've found. I hope that this is useful to others, and that other people will post their own findings.
AVI files: The Samsung player seems to be able to play most AVI files with most of the common codecs, but it can't FF/RW in some AVI files. The difference is that those files use the OpenDML format extension. This extension was created to allow AVI files to grow > 2 Gbytes, but many encoders start to use it at around 1 Gbyte size. Some AVI utilities show when the file uses OpenDML format (e.g., GSpot), others don't. If you have an AVI file using OpenDML format between 1 and 2 Gbytes in size, you can use VirtualDub to remove the OpenDML format. Open the file in VirtualDub and then Save As Old AVI Format with the Video option Direct Stream Copy. That won't affect the video quality or file size, but FF and RW will work in the resulting new file.
MKV files: The advantage of using MKV files is that they can contain multiple audio tracks and chapter marks. One of the best utilities for copying a DVD directly to MKV is MakeMKV (it doesn't change the MPEG-2 encoding, so it's very fast). Unfortunately the Samsung player cannot FF/RW/Skip in the MKV files it creates. The best alternative I've found is Handbrake. Handbrake is much slower because it does re-encode, but on the other hand the default H.264 compression that Handbrake uses does a good job of reducing the file size while preserving quality. And the resulting MKV files are compatible with FF/RW/Skip on the Samsung player. The Samsung player does support multiple audio tracks in MKV files (e.g., alternative languages or commentary), but unfortunately it does not recognize chapter marks in MKV files.
VOB files: Unfortunately the Samsung player does not recognize VOB files when played from a USB drive, even if the structure is exactly the same as the DVD. Popular free server programs like Serviio and TVersity can transcode VOB files on the fly for the Samsung player, but there's a problem: when there are multiple audio language tracks, they are placed in a different random order in each VOB file, and the server programs just play the first one. That means that the language switches randomly with each VOB file, and most movies have multiple VOB files with multiple language tracks. The server software would have to read and understand the DVD structure in the IFO file to fix this, and unfortunately most don't.
I could add a little more about MP4 files now:
The Samsung C-series also handles MP4 (m4v) files just fine, including DD 5.1 soundtracks. Unfortunately many other players don't expect anything other than a default Apple-format AAC stereo soundtrack in an MP4 file, so the general compatibility of such MP4 files is not good. Handbrake can also encode chapter marks in an MP4 file in the form of a text track, but the Samsung player can't read them, and the compatibility of that approach is also poor, causing many players to fail to play the file entirely.
So Catch-22 - neither mkv nor mp4 format has sufficient universal compatibility to encode once, play anywhere.
The easy way to fix the seeking problem with MKV files is to feed it through 'mkvmerge' utility from MKVToolnix package with '--clusters-in-meta-seek' option. It does not reencode, so it works quickly.
Some of the built-in Handbrake profiles will insert two audio tracks - an AAC stereo track (presumably for stereo and/or "dumb" devices) and a passthrough AC3 track (which will generally be 5.1).
Can you tell me if the C-series players can recognize and play the AC3 track in this case (assuming it's the #2 audio track, which is the way the Handbrake profile is set up)? Basically I am searching for a format which will work well for something like an iPad (where I'm limited to stereo) as well as for a larger screen, surround-sound setup. I am still working (mostly) with DVD material, not HD stuff.
Thanks for any help you can provide.
This might depend on the firmware version, but the current C5500 does actually recognize VOB files as individual playable files (at least through DLNA shares). It can play the video directly from VOB without any problems, yet for some reason in my case it complains about unsupported audio codec (AC-3), meaning that VOB files are played without audio. I haven't tested too many different VOB files, so I can't say whether the audio codec problem is caused by some issues with my specific VOB files.
Other owners of C5500 report successful playback of VOB files. Just keep in mind that in order to play a multi-VOB movie continuously, you have to merge all VOB files into one VOB file.
On a somewhat related note, I figured out how to kick the overscan problem with video file playback through a Blu-Ray player when used with a Samsung HDTV. You have to set the HDMI input as PC or PC-DVI via the TV settings and you must disable the 24fps switch on the Blu-Ray player if you're using it with a Samsung HDTV that has the Movie Frame feature, otherwise the overscan kicks in when 24fps files are played. The downside is that the input configuration gives you drastically different color on the screen, so you have to adjust it accordingly, which may be a pain in the rear depending on what kind of remote came with your TV.
I have a question/problem that seems to fit this thread....I think...I just can't find any answers elsewhere.
I have a Mac and am copying MP4s to a thumb drive to insert into my Samsung blue-ray player and play. I did this all the time with my PC but, for some reason, the files copy and show up on the thumb drive as MP4s, but when I insert into the blue-ray player they are not found/recognized. I'm not techy at all and am so frustrated trying to figure out what I need to do to make this work....any thoughts?
I do not know if this applies to your bluray player, but when you go to the info screen on mine, there is a field that has the current time location in the video. If you enter a new time aka for one hour thirty minutes and eleven seconds hit 13011 and immediately hit the enter button, you can jump to a location in the video. This isn't exactly chapter marks, but it is the only practical way to get to the end of a very long video. Hope this helps.