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The HB954PB is the step-up version of the 2.1-channel HB354BS Blu-ray system we reviewed back in April, and is aimed at those with a bigger budget and a bit more room to spare. The HB954PB ups the speaker count to 5.1 and throws in a pair of LG's gorgeous 'champagne flute' floorstanders. It's also more powerful than the 354BS, supplying 155W per channel and 225W to the subwoofer, which should be more than enough to give your movies real clout.
The Blu-ray player built into the main unit is a Profile 2.0 affair with an Ethernet port on the back, which allows you to access BD Live content and watch YouTube videos - just like LG's standalone BD370. This unit, which also features an integrated surround sound receiver, is attractively styled in a gloss black finish that's jazzed up beautifully by some subtle blue highlights underneath the front panel and around the volume dial.
The nicely-sized display panel shows the title, chapter and running time and next to it is a hidden iPod/iPhone dock, which slides out smoothly and feels a lot more robust than the Panasonic SC-BT205's dock. Completing the front-panel connectivity is an upward-facing USB port, which accepts flash memory drives, MP3 players and even external HDD drives.
Back-panel connections are a cut above your average all-in-one system. Most impressive is the inclusion of two HDMI inputs, which allows you to use the system as a hi-def switchbox and might also come in handy if you want the LG to decode surround sound bitstreams from external devices. As if that wasn't enough, you also get optical and coaxial digital inputs plus analogue stereo input.
Outputs include the obligatory HDMI socket for firing 1080/24p pictures to your display, as well as component and composite video sockets. The flimsy springclip speaker terminals are par for the course with one-box systems but at least they're colour-coded for easy installation. Rounding up the selection are FM/AM radio antenna and remote control ports.
The champagne flute speakers stand 1.2m tall and instantly add a touch of class to their surroundings. They're also robustly built and finished in gloss black, which blends into the blue tinted bit at the bottom and looks stunning. In the box they're split into three easy to assemble parts - the base, stem and speaker screw into each other and the pre-attached cable threads through and plugs into the connector on the bottom.
You also get a pair of rear bookshelf speakers that share the same blue-tinted black finish and tapered shape of the fronts, a long centre speaker that sits tidily under the TV and a smart-looking passive subwoofer. All of these elements combine to make a fine-looking, well-matched system.
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