As ever, I loaded up the Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray to check its video processing power and the HT-BD8200 does a magnificent job across the board. There isn't a single jaggie on the Diagonal Filter test's rotating bars, and although the bar on test B looks a bit blurred round the edges, there isn't any stepping to speak of. Tricky video cadences are detected immediately and noise is tamed effectively. It's similarly authoritative with the DVD version, proving that the HT-BD8200 is a talented all-rounder for your entire movie collection.
This translates into excellent real world Blu-ray pictures. The Samsung's colour reproduction, dark scene black level and detail retrieval are superb, making movies look crisp and punchy with plenty of cinematic depth.
Like several other Samsung systems, the HT-BD8200 uses speaker cones made of Bio Kelp (seaweed) and I haven't always been their biggest fan, but here they help the system to deliver a satisfying sound performance. The most impressive aspect is the level of clarity it brings to voices and high-frequency effects without making anything sound excessively uncomfortable or harsh. There's a bit more drive and purpose behind the HT-BD8200 than the HT-WS1G, and that translates into thrilling Blu-ray movie playback.
I selected the Elemental scene in Hellboy II - presented in devilish DTS HD Master Audio - cranked up the volume to near maximum and was blown away by the vigour with which it belts out the crashes, explosions and the tree creature's ungodly screeching. Dynamic shifts are sudden and gripping, and although the virtual surround won't make you believe you're listening to 5.1 sound, it does lend the soundstage plenty of width.
The subwoofer is also impressive, injecting beefy bass into the soundstage and blending nicely with the soundbar. There were absolutely no problems with the wireless communication during our test, no matter how many obstacles we placed in the way. The sub's speed of response is as quick as a wired sub, and is a vital element in the system's impressive overall performance.
Despite my generally positive impressions, the HT-BD8200's sound isn't flawless. Its sharp, attacking character is great to start with, but prolonged listening at high volume starts to reveal a rather wild sound, which made me long for the refinement of the B&W Panorama. The sub can be a bit overpowering at times too, particularly with Power Bass engaged.
But getting back to the positives, the Samsung is a safe pair of hands, so to speak, with music. From fast-paced electronic dance to acoustic jazz, the HT-BD8200 handles a wide range of music styles with infectious rhythm and a surprising level of finesse. Even more surprising is the responsive and well-integrated contribution from the subwoofer, which provides a solid foundation without overpowering the other speakers as it can with movies.
The HT-BD8200 is a solid Blu-ray proposition for those who want hi-def movies but can't commit to a full home cinema system. It's jaw-droppingly attractive, boasts impressive AV performance and a very generous range of features, although we do think it's still a touch overpriced given the lack of built-in Wi-Fi and BD Live memory - under £500 and it would have been a must-buy.
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