Samsung was the first company to unleash a one-box Blu-ray system with last year's HT-BD2, a 7.1 setup with a Profile 1.0 player at its core. Fast forward a year and the Korean company has followed it up with a range of systems based on its latest Profile 2.0 decks, whose Wi-Fi BD Live support, lightning-quick loading times and built-in memory make them arguably the best on the market.
Among these new systems is the HT-BD1250, a 5.1-channel affair that offers all the above features and more. It looks pretty special on paper, but faces stiff competition from the LG HB954PB and Panasonic SC-BT205, both of which impressed us with stellar AV performance and a tasty range of features. So how does the HT-BD1250 measure up?
One thing's for sure - Samsung trumps them both on the looks front. The combined Blu-ray spinner and 5.1-channel receiver looks like a slightly bigger version of the BD-P3600, with its slanted edges and touch-sensitive buttons along the top. It's also decked out in the same gloss black finish that adorns 99% of home cinema kit out there at the moment (would it hurt someone to use multicoloured stripes once in a while?) but it does make the unit look undeniably sleek and sophisticated.
Both the Panasonic and LG systems use spouse-bothering tallboy speakers, but the BD1250's use a more modest bookshelf design. Their compact shape makes them much easier to place around the room if space is tight, and although they're not a patch on LG's champagne flutes, their gloss-black finish makes them an attractive feature. They're light but sturdy, and each one is perched on a plastic stand that clips on the bottom.
The speaker line-up is completed by one of the smallest centres we've ever encountered - it's about the same size as the remote - and a passive subwoofer remarkable only for its glossy front panel and compact size. All of the speaker cones are made from Bio Kelp, which uses the sonic properties of seaweed (obviously) to deliver what Samsung describes as 'higher resolution sound'. It's good for the environment too.