The HT-C9950W leaves no stone unturned in terms of features, making it one of the most generous, all-encompassing all-in-one systems we’ve encountered – but at this price we’d expect nothing less. First up, it’s a 7.1-channel system, which gives you the full benefit of Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks, formats that the system is fully capable of decoding. Most Blu-ray systems only offer 7.1 through costly upgrades, but it’s nice to get surround backs as standard.
What’s more, there’s even a wireless kit for the rear speakers, comprising a TX card that slots into the back of the sub and a powered receiver that sits between the speakers at the back of the room. This cuts down on the amount of cables you have to conceal, but the fact that the surround back speakers aren’t also wireless defeats the object, as you still have a pair of cables to hide.
The HT-C9950W also boasts a wide array of DLNA networking and multimedia functions, all of which can be accessed wirelessly using the supplied 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi dongle, or through the Ethernet port.
As per usual it includes Samsung’s Internet@TV, which delivers a range of web apps to your TV. What we love about Samsung’s service is the quality and quantity of its apps, which makes the handful of sites available on LG’s NetCast or Panasonic’s Viera Cast seem positively miserly by comparison. There’s a clutch of popular sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps and LoveFilm, as well as a decent range of games.
Also impressive is the ability to add new apps when they become available, as well as manage them in the settings menu – features not afforded by most of Samsung’s rivals. The interface lists recommended sites along the top for ease of access, while the rest are placed in a grid below. It’s a logical, colourful and intuitive GUI that conveys a real sense of fun. On the downside, the feature reveals a common problem among AV products that incorporate web functionality – there’s no keyboard or mouse, which means entering text using the remote is a laborious process.
Next up is the Allshare feature, which lets you stream music, video and photos from PCs and other devices connected to your home network. It’s remarkably easy to find songs and videos thanks to the use of folder-based menus that mimic what you might find on a PC.
The system will also play a long list of formats from USB devices, including DivX Plus HD, WMV HD and MKV. Like Allshare, the menus are clear and attractive, making it simple to find the files you’re looking for. As if that wasn’t enough, Samsung even throws an iPod dock in the box, allowing you to play music from an iPod or iPhone through the system, as well as controlling it with the remote.
The HT-C9950W also offers Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing, designed to add ‘vertical surround’ to the soundstage. The jury is still out on the benefits of this technology, but its inclusion is welcome and Samsung should be applauded for at least giving users the option.
There’s also an impressive range of sound modes, including Smart Sound, a way of levelling out the volume to prevent any nasty sonic surprises; MP3 Enhance for boosting the quality of compressed music; and Power Bass, which adds an extra dose of low-end punch. Aside from these you get a range of SFE modes that aim to replicate the acoustic properties of surprisingly specific environments – ‘Philharmonic Hall in Bratislava’ is our particular favourite.
Last but by no means least is the system’s Full HD 3D compatibility, made possible by the inclusion of the HDMI v1.4 output on the rear. There’s no real setup involved for this, although you can specify the size of your TV to get the optimum 3D performance.