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Elsewhere the socket selection is par for the course, including HDMI, component and composite video outs, plus an optical digital audio input (handy for hooking up a Sky + box), a set of analogue stereo inputs and an FM radio antenna input. It's a shame Samsung couldn't have included a couple of HDMI inputs but cost was obviously a limiting factor.
However, iPod and iPhone owners will be delighted to learn that the system is supplied with a cradle that plugs into the port on the side. You can control iPods using the remote and onscreen GUI, plus it'll even let you playback videos on your TV. The iPod port is joined on the side panel by a USB port for flash memory drives (but not hard-disks), a 3.5mm minijack input for other MP3 players and a headphones output.
One of the system's funkiest features is its ability to rip tracks from CD into MP3 directly to a USB memory device, but the lack of Gracenote means you'll need to name them manually on a PC afterwards. Naturally for a Samsung system you'll find loads of other features on board.
There are Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, plus several sound modes designed to enhance audio performance. Chief among these is the V-Sound mode, which aims to replicate a 5.1 effect through the two speakers, and there's a similar mode for headphone listening. It's joined by P.Bass, which adds extra punch to low-frequency effects, and Audio Upscale, which boosts MP3 and WMA playback up to CD quality. Finally, Smart Volume levels out the audio frequencies during dramatic changes in volume, primarily when watching TV.
After plugging in a USB stick full of digital media, we found that the system happily plays DivX, XviD, MP3, WMA, WMV (version 7) and JPEG but not DivX HD or WMV9.
The system comes with an excellent remote, with helpful button organisation and clear labelling, and we also like the way the playback buttons are coloured blue to set them apart. The onscreen menus are rudimentary but simple to navigate.
According to the specs the HT-X720G can fire out 400W of audio power, with 133W supplied to the fronts and 135W sent to the sub (OK that's 401W but what's a watt between friends?). And during playback of The Return of the King on DVD, it certainly delivers a hearty racket, filling the room with the clanking cacophony of battles and Howard Shore's sweeping score. It's not as naturally powerful as the LG HB354BS but boasts the necessary dynamism to make an impact.
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