- Very slim
- Excellent range of features
- Good sound quality
- No built-in memory
- Cluttered remote
Review Price £478.90
LG HLB54S Blu-ray Soundbar
Integrating a Blu-ray player into a soundbar was the next logical step for the technology, and typically the Koreans were first to take it. In November we cast our eye over the Samsung HT-BD8200, a good-looking, feature-rich all-in-one that does a great job with hi-def discs and DVDs, but now it's the turn of fierce rival LG to show what it can do.
LG's debut soundbar is the HLB54S, which at around £600 is surprisingly pricey for such a (usually) budget-conscious brand, but given LG's track record you know it'll be absolutely bursting with state-of-the-art features and hopefully offer great performance to boot. On that score the signs are good, given that it's been tuned by LG's audio go-to-guy Mark Levinson and claims to offer 430W of audio power.
The HLB54S is one fine-looking soundbar. It's covered in glitzy touches like the silver trim surrounding the disc slot, the gloss-black finish on the sloping top panel and a row of touch-sensitive buttons that give off a dainty little ‘ping' when pressed. We also like the massive illuminated display that shines through the front speaker mesh, allowing you to read it from anywhere in the room.
However, it's not the most practical soundbar in the world. It's delightfully slim, but this is offset by a depth measurement of 189mm, which makes it more awkward to accommodate than most soundbars. And it's not really designed to be wall mounted either, which we thought was the point of a soundbar - if you want to sling it on the wall, you'll need to put a shelf up first.
Still, the HLB54S gets back in our good books with a rear panel that's teeming with sockets. Of greatest interest is the sight of two HDMI inputs, which will be welcomed by anyone wondering how their socket-strapped TV will accommodate a growing collection of HDMI-equipped kit. The answer is simple - hook them up to the LG and you can switch from source to source using the system's remote.
Among the other connections are a socket for the supplied iPod dock (generous), composite video output (useless), one optical digital audio input (handy for Sky+ boxes) and a generic analogue minijack input for any MP3 player. Completing the line up is an Ethernet port to support the Blu-ray deck's BD Live compatibility.
But this socket will be rendered redundant if you own a wireless internet router, as the HLB54S comes equipped with built-in Wi-Fi support (802.11 b/g/n), just like the company's BD390 standalone player. A smart move it is too, as it might actually encourage you to check out the BD Live content on your new Blu-ray discs as opposed to ignoring it because you can't be arsed to rig up an Ethernet cable. The unit's firmware can also be updated wirelessly.
Another of the LG's major selling points is the wireless active subwoofer, which you can place anywhere in the room (within reason) without having to hide the cable. Perfect! And there's no tricky setup involved either, simply plug it in and it pairs up with the soundbar as soon as it detects a signal. It's not the most substantially built subwoofer in the world, but the matching gloss-black finish is as reliably alluring as ever.