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Anyone looking for an affordable all-in-one home cinema system would do well to check out the latest range from Samsung. The Korean company's one-box systems consistently offer a generous features-to-price ratio that makes them irresistible to budget buyers, regardless of how good their AV performance is.
The HT-X30 is a fine example of this. For under £200, you get a full 5.1-channel DVD system that pumps out a mighty 800W of audio power and comes equipped with an HDMI output with video upscaling, a USB port, DVD-Audio playback and even the option to make the rear speakers wireless.
The other thing that's guaranteed when you buy a Samsung system is an eye-catching design, and this system is no exception - although it's nowhere near as stylish or distinctive as the 2.1-channel HT-X200 reviewed here. The HT-X30 uses a more conventional set-top box style main unit, which at first glance looks uncannily like one of Samsung's recorders with its inward-sloping front panel.
In the box are five satellite speakers, which are compact enough to sit comfortably on shelves or window sills, and a slim passive subwoofer that handles 135W of bass muscle passed on from the main unit's built-in amplifier.
All of the cables are plugged into the back of the main unit, including the colour-coded speaker wires. The deck also features a healthy selection of video connections, including HDMI, component, SCART and composite outputs. The HDMI output supports Samsung's Anynet+ feature, which lets you control the system and a Samsung TV with the same remote. The video sockets are joined by optical digital and analogue stereo audio inputs for connecting external sources and an input for the FM radio antenna.
If you don't like the thought of running cables to the back of your living room, then you can add the SWA-3000 wireless rear stereo amplifier (available for just under £100) and make the rear speakers wireless. The device comes with a TX card that slots into the rear of the main unit and allows it to communicate with the SWA-3000.
As mentioned, the HT-X30 is packed with features. It will upscale DVDs to 720p and 1080i, but not 1080p, and plays DVD-Audio discs (if you can still find any to play, that is) and because it's a 5.1-channel system you can listen to them in all their multi-channel glory.
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