Review Price £279.95
LG HB354BS 2.1-Channel Blu-ray System
The HB354BS marks LG's entry into the world of Blu-ray systems and is one of two one-box packages hitting the market in May. This one is a 2.1-channel system, which means it's designed for people who have neither the space nor patience for a full 5.1 setup, but despite the lack of surround sound its 350W audio output should deliver a more fulfilling home cinema experience than your average TV speakers. The step-up HT954PB features a 5.1-channel configuration with ‘Champagne' style speakers, and bumps the power up to 1000W.
In the box you'll find a combined Blu-ray player/receiver unit, two front speakers and a passive subwoofer. The surprisingly chunky main unit is styled in a snazzy gloss-black finish, jazzed up further with a volume dial surrounded by a ring of blue light and a row of touch-sensitive buttons. It's attractive and fairly well built, but falls foul of the hollow, plasticky feel common among one-box systems.
Bang in the centre of the fascia lies one of the system's killer features - an iPod dock. It slides out when you press the panel in the centre and supports all types of iPod, including the touch, plus you can browse through songs using the onscreen GUI. You'll also find a USB Plus port on top that supports playback of movies, music and photos.
Around the back we're pleased to discover two HDMI inputs (and one output), which allow you to channel two other sources though the system, such as a PS3 and Sky HD box. That way, you can improve the sound quality for TV viewing and gaming, and you only take up one HDMI input on your TV. Handy.
The generosity continues with the inclusion of optical, coaxial and analogue audio inputs, plus component and composite video outputs. The connection roster is completed by an FM antenna input for the built-in radio tuner, a 3.5mm minijack input for MP3 players and an Ethernet port to take advantage of the system's Blu-ray Profile 2.0 capabilities.
The front speakers are gorgeous, with a glossy black finish and oval shape that will attract plenty of attention. Each one is perched on a silver horseshoe-shaped stand and plugs into the back of the main unit using flimsy springclip terminals, another sign of all-in-one cost cutting. As for the subwoofer, the matching gloss-black finish makes it look fine from a distance but on closer inspection it's worryingly light and hollow - although at least it's sensibly mounted on rubber feet to minimise vibration.