If you like the look of LG’s BD570 Blu-ray player and need a surround sound system to go with it, then the HB965TZ might be just what you’re looking for. It boasts all of the nifty features offered by LG’s standalone deck but throws a set of ultra-stylish 5.1 speakers, 1,100W of amplification and a preposterous amount of other goodies into the box – all for a fairly reasonable outlay compared with the cumulative price of separates.
Whether or not this is the system for you depends largely on the type of speakers you can get away with in your living room. The tall floorstanding front and rear speakers included here are a lot more imposing than the bookshelf variety, and therefore harder to place if space is tight. If so, one of LG’s more discreet systems might be worth considering, such as the HB905SA and its five compact sats.
The HB965TZ’s speakers might be big, but they’re tremendously attractive. They’re finished in black with an appealing transparent trim around the edge, which matches LG’s latest TVs perfectly. Each one can either be perched on top of thin pole stands or wall-mounted using the supplied brackets.
Joining these in the line-up is a thin centre speaker, styled to match the others and aligned horizontally to slip easily under your TV, plus a subwoofer. Like most one-box systems the sub is passive (i.e. it doesn’t use its own power supply) which doesn’t always guarantee the most effective bass performance, but it’s a lovely-looking unit with a pleasing gloss-black finish.
However, the Blu-ray receiver unit is where all the action is. Much like the BD570, the list of features on offer is staggering. Blu-ray is obviously this system’s raison d’etre and on that score the Profile 2.0 player does everything you’d expect, such as decoding HD audio formats, playing movies in 1080/24p and providing access to BonusView and BD Live material.
But what jumps out most is the range of networking features, made possible by the inclusion of a built-in Wi-Fi module that supports 802.11b/g/n (or an Ethernet port on the back for non-wireless setups). You can stream content from DLNA devices on your home network, access LG’s NetCast Internet portal or download BD Live content onto a connected USB storage device wirelessly.
It’s worth reiterating that the NetCast’s three applications (YouTube, Picasa and AccuWeather.com) can’t compete with the breadth of content offered by Sony’s BRAVIA Internet Video or Samsung’s Internet@TV services, but they’re a fun way of killing time and we love the inventive graphics used by NetCast’s main menu.