LG’s HLX56S is what you might call a ‘one-stop shop’, packing a 3D-capable Blu-ray player and 4.1-channel speaker system into a single soundbar unit. That means you get hi-def pictures and powerful cinematic sound without having to clutter up your living room with loads of boxes and speakers. It’s also the first of LG’s 2011 Blu-ray range that we’ve tested, so it’s our first chance to check out its updated internet content portal, Smart TV.
But let’s kick off by taking a look at the design, and only one word can describe it – wow. The HLX56S is an absolute stunner, dressed in a luxuriously showy brushed silver finish that’ll instantly turn your living area into something from the future. The four driver cones are styled in the same finish, with a darker tweeter sandwiched between each pair. Your eye is instantly drawn to the curved platform jutting out from the front, which accommodates the disc slot (trays are so last century) and a USB port for media playback, which is covered up by a flap.
That silver finish is juxtaposed beautifully by a gloss black section on top, which also sports a row of touch-sensitive controls that give a cute little chime when pressed. The only negative about the design is that its depth and awkward shape don’t allow it to be wall-mounted in the traditional way – you’ll need to put it on a shelf or piece of furniture underneath your TV.
The convenience continues with news that the HLX56S comes with a wireless subwoofer. That means you can put it in the most aesthetically and acoustically suitable place in the room, although it’s powered so it’ll need to go near a plug socket. We’d hardly call it compact, but the smart black styling and hefty build quality are impressive.
Rear connectivity is excellent by soundbar standards. Not only do you get a HDMI v1.4 output, capable of piping 3D pictures to your TV, but two HDMI inputs allow you to listen to external sources though this unit. That’s a real godsend if you want to boost the sound from games consoles or digital TV boxes, plus you can connect them all to your TV using a single cable. What’s more, because it supports the Audio Return Channel, you can enjoy TV sound without the need for a separate audio cable. There’s also a connector for the supplied iPod cradle, while a 3.5mm minijack input and FM radio antenna port complete the line-up.