Review Price £345.00
3D Blu-ray playback is of course the HLX56S’s headline feature, but it’s not the most exciting trick up its sleeve. It’s also equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and LG’s Smart TV, the new internet content portal that replaces the lacklustre NetCast.
NetCast only offered three sites (AccuWeather, Picasa and YouTube) but Smart TV ups the content quota to include the crucial BBC iPlayer as well as Acetrax (movies-on-demand), MLB (baseball), Viewster (more movies-on-demand), vTuner (internet radio) and Accedo (a selection of games). Facebook and Twitter are also supposed to be included but didn’t appear on our sample. It’s a big improvement, yet it still can’t match the quality or quantity of Sony and Samsung’s connected offerings.
Those sites are grouped under the ‘Premium’ section of the main menu, while a separate ‘LG Apps’ section offers a wide selection of fun things designed to keep you entertained in between Blu-ray movies. They include horoscopes, a fitness trainer, colour blindness test and many other bizarre but interesting features. You need to register with LG before you can install them though.
The HLX56S is also DLNA certified and can therefore stream content directly from PCs and NAS drives on your home network. The list of supported formats is excellent, including MKV, WMV, AVCHD, AVI, DivX HD and M4V video, MP3, WMA, WAV and AAC music and JPEG photos. The same formats can be played back from USB devices and external HDDs.
The soundbar unit features 2 x 70W of amplification for the front channels, 2 x 70W for the surround channels and the subwoofer kicks out 150W, amounting to total power output of 430W. It also comes with a Virtual surround setting to compensate for the fact that there are no real speakers at the back of the room. There are also Game, Night, Loudness, Natural, Bass Blast and Clear Voice presets, as well as a non-processed Bypass mode, a User EQ setting and an Upscaler mode that enhances compressed music playback. Levels for each speaker channel can be adjusted using a dedicated button on the remote.
The unit decodes all HD audio formats, upscales DVDs to 1080p, 1080i or 720p, outputs Blu-ray discs at 24fps and rips CD tracks to connected USB devices. And as is the trend these days, the unit can also be controlled using an Android phone or iPhone/iPod Touch.