LG HLB54S Blu-ray Soundbar - LG HLB54S

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
LG HLB54S Blu-ray Soundbar

Summary

Our Score:

9

The rest of the HLB54S's features left us well and truly flabbergasted. Built-in Wi-Fi, a wireless sub and a supplied iPod dock would be enough for most systems, but here they're merely an hors d'oeuvre. You'll also find a USB por, concealed under a flap next to the disc slot, which allows you to connect an external USB HDD or flash drive and play MKV, DivX HD, MP3, WMA, XviD and JPEG files. Thanks to the unit's DLNA compliance, the same file types can be streamed from PCs or mobile phones over the Wi-Fi connection, and you can even stream the billions of videos on YouTube to your TV.

Inside the soundbar is a 4.1-channel speaker configuration - two fronts and two surrounds at 70W per channel, with 150W going to the sub. The unit decodes Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, plus it can upscale DVDs to 1080p. True to form, LG has also included a range of sound modes, including Natural, Bass Booster, Drama, Sports, Game, Concert and Music ReTouch, the latter designed to enhance compressed music playback. All of these colour the sound in various ways, so it's best to use the Bypass mode for movies.

The biggest bum note is that the HLB54S is not equipped with the built-in memory needed to access BD Live online content. Try to access it without a USB stick connected to the front port and it simply won't work. We loaded up a 2GB stick and tried out Terminator Salvation's BD Live portal - there was a lengthy wait before it linked up to the Sony mainframe (a good eight minutes) and the content is sluggish to stream or download, but this experience is common to most of the BD Live players we've tested at typical broadband speeds.

The operating system sticks with the tried and trusted LG formula, based around a welcoming, icon-driven Home menu that provides easy access to all of the main functions, be it Blu-ray, media streaming, YouTube, USB or the Setup menu.

The latter presents its many options with a healthy dose of common sense, using large text and minimal submenus, but the fact that you can't access it without stopping any playing movie is a pain.

Hooking the LG up to a network is a lot easier than the Samsung HT-BD8200. An on-screen wizard takes you through each stage and asks questions about your setup, then a responsive virtual keyboard lets you punch in your encryption key with no hassle. Streaming content is a cinch too. Choose your server from a list, then it presents all your content in the relevant folders, much as it would appear on your PC - just make sure your computer has been set to allow media sharing.

Optimising the system is a simple process of pressing the speaker level button and adjusting the front L/R, surround L/R and woofer levels. The remote used to perform all this is a bit too cluttered and lacks a backlight, but at least some attempt has been made to separate out the playback and menu control keys.

chrism

January 28, 2010, 10:33 pm

Danny how does this compare to the other soundbars you have reviewed? - does its surround effect sound as convincing as the more expensive audio only soundbars?

Premfab

January 29, 2010, 12:10 am

£600 fot an LG product!! Sorry. I don't care about the specs. I'll save my money and buy the real thing.





LG have probably priced themselves out of the market with this one.

PoisonJam

January 29, 2010, 2:06 pm

I really want to see WIRELESS rear speakers on one of these!





OK, wireless surrounds are far from truly wireless as you need to plug the receiver into the wall and then run cabled to the speakers, but most rooms have plugs at the rear and the big thing is cutting out the two wires that run from the receiver all the way round the room.

Lawry

February 17, 2010, 1:01 am

This unit sounds great, are there any stockists in Scotland where I can view a live unit?

p1yo

May 23, 2010, 10:54 pm

Recently just bought this HLB54S. I think the sound is awesome!


I'm surprised that only from small tiny speaker soundbar can make great sound.





Although this unit is not 5.1 speaker but it can produce sound like 5.1.


Maybe this unit is tuned by Mark Levinson so it can produce great sound and details 5.1

i.

June 5, 2010, 10:09 pm

i bought it, and took me a while to get my pc video clips playing in the sound bar. dvd discs make quite a noise when inside. sound of the bass is quite mediocre, sometimes you have to put the hand in the speaker to notice if it is working or not because you cannot even listen to them. the highs are ok. a lot of formats cannot be played. the LG service customer sucks and if you contact them, they just put you a lot of nonsense questions. updating was another problem. sometimes when looking for a movie, it just shut down. the menu is not user friendly (for instance compared to my sony tv, years light difference). the design is lovely though and it is not that big. i will keep it, but only to see bluray and play some cds. youtube works well.

Ray Verth

August 13, 2010, 11:06 pm

Just bought and installed this with an LG 42 inch 3D LED unit. All is fantastic EXCEPT the blue ray DVD player is region coded to region 2 only - WHY?? I have many DVD's from many trips overseas and need this unit unlocked to play these well used DVD's...why code ther units in 2010 - what good purpose does this do today?? So if buying check to get a guarantee of region free or avoid this product at all costs! By the way has anyone got a hack?

havregryn

September 4, 2010, 3:38 pm

I am thinking of buying this soundbar and the new philips hts9140 with similar specs. Have not really decided yet. I wonder if you are going to review this unit(hts9140) any time soon!??

Toni Vila

December 1, 2010, 11:37 am

Come on! When using video cable - video and sound are not synchronized!!! Watching dvd content OR other movie from ext. HDD (USB connection used) - sound lead the video and shift is getting bigger with time. I can't believe this. Is this video lagging normal? :-)


Btw, my TV is Philips Cineos.

rob

October 11, 2013, 1:32 pm

how to put in a headphone? Or is it only possible for phones without a cable??

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