The HT-C5530 comes equipped with the same networking features and multimedia support as other one-box systems in Samsung’s range (such as the HT-C6930W) so we won’t go into any great detail. But it’s worth pointing out that when connected, you can stream music, video and photos from networked PCs and other DLNA devices using the excellent All Share feature, as well as download/stream BD Live content. To do this, you’ll also need to connect a USB storage device of at least 1GB, as there’s no built-in memory. If the rear USB is taken up by the Wi-Fi dongle then you’ll have to use the other port found under a flap on the front panel.
The network connection also grants access to Samsung’s Internet@TV feature, a range of online applications including YouTube, Picasa, Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, LoveFilm, Rovi TV listings and many more. New apps can be added when available by clicking on the relevant icon in the attractive-looking interface.
Elsewhere the system supports an impressive range of digital media codecs and containers, including DivX HD, XviD, MKV, AVI, WMV, MP3, WMA and JPEG. These can be played back from USB devices or streamed over a network. External HDDs are supported, but they must be under 160GB in capacity and formatted in FAT16/32, not NTFS.
Other features include decoding of all HD audio formats, Smart Sound (which regulates the volume level to prevent any nasty shocks), MP3 Enhancer and Power Bass. You also get five Sound Field Effects and Dolby Pro Logic II. An RDS FM radio tuner is also on board.
As you’d expect, the HT-C5530 is incredibly easy to setup. All of the speaker cables are colour coded at both ends so you know where to stick them, the column speakers fit together easily and an Initial Settings wizard runs through the main menu options when you first turn it on.
You don’t even have to worry about tweaking the audio levels or speaker distances as the Musical Auto Calibration (MAC) feature will optimise the sound for you using the supplied microphone and the built-in test tones. After doing this, the resulting sound seems well-balanced, but some of the speaker distances seemed a bit wide of the mark and needed adjusting.
The system’s onscreen design is wonderful. The main menu uses brightly coloured fullscreen graphics with large icons denoting each type of media at your disposal. You can switch between connected devices using the coloured buttons on the remote. Along the top is a selection of recommended Internet@TV apps, providing a quicker way of accessing them. Browsing networked or USB devices couldn’t be easier thanks to the clear structure and detailed file labelling.
Much of the credit for the system’s ease of use must go to the remote, which looks like it was designed for a child. The buttons are big and spongy and labelled in large capital letters. Clever use of colours separates out the sections nicely and there’s a handy Tools button that brings up a small in-playback menu.
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Here, you can access the picture settings, which include Movie and Dynamic presets, as well as a User setting where you can set the level of noise reduction and sharpness. These should be used sparingly as they can make the picture look harsh and unnatural at high levels.