If you're looking for a great-value one-box home cinema system, then LG is always an excellent place to start. The Korean giant boasts a wide range of affordably-priced systems that cater for a variety of needs and room sizes, and each one is packed with the latest features. The HT903TA is a case in point - for under £300 you get a full 5.1 system with tallboy speakers, which can fire out 1,000W of audio power and play back a wide array of media formats.
The HT903TA is attractive too, with every component and speaker styled in black to give it a sleek, fashionable look (and to match LG's LCDs and plasmas of course). The main unit, which houses the DVD/CD player, amplifier and all the relevant processing, features an alluring gloss black fascia with a volume dial on the right, highlighted by an eye-catching ring of blue light. Only a few playback buttons adorn the front, and under the flap on the sloping underside you'll find a USB port and a 3.5mm minijack input for hooking up MP3 players.
The four tallboy speakers stand over 1.2m tall and slot snugly onto the supplied stands (also styled in gloss black). The gently tapered shape is a nice touch and they feel surprisingly robust, although there is still a touch of that unmistakeable hollowness that you normally get from one box system speakers. You also get a smaller, horizontally-shaped centre speaker and a smart gloss-black passive subwoofer, but its light and hollow construction doesn't exactly fill us with confidence over its bass performance - let's hope it proves us wrong.
LG has equipped the rear unit with a healthy array of sockets, including HDMI, component, composite and RGB SCART outputs. It's particularly pleasing to see an HDMI input on the rear too, which is handy if your TV only sports one input as you can loop another component though the system and take advantage of its audio decoding. You'll also find optical digital and analogue stereo audio inputs for your other kit and an FM antenna input for the radio tuner. Last but not least is an iDock connection, which lets you play your iPod and control it using the LG's remote.
As for features, the HT903TA is packed with many impressive talents, many of which are also found on the more luxurious but more expensive HT953TV that John rated highly back in October 2008. This system also offers the 10.1-channel Virtual Sound Matrix, which adds a phantom channel to each of the five satellites in a bid to create a more immersive 360 degree soundstage. The same technology can also be used to boost two-channel sources up to 5.1.