One thing you can always count on from Samsung’s systems is a generous feature list, and the HT-E5530 is no exception. With smart TV content, DLNA streaming, wide-ranging format support and a variety of sound processing modes, it already feels like phenomenal value for money.
The stand-out feature is Smart Hub, which we’ve discussed many times before, so we’ll just go over the highlights. In a nutshell, it’s an internet service that delivers a range of apps to your screen, including BBC iPlayer, Love Film, Netflix, YouTube and Acetrax. Apps can be downloaded from the Samsung Apps menu.
Away from video streaming, there’s vTuner internet radio, Facebook, Twitter, Picasa and a plethora of games, puzzles and lifestyle apps that will keep you and the family entertained for hours. You also get a web browser, search tools and the Your Video movie database.
What sets Smart Hub apart from other web portals, however, are ‘signature services’ like Family Story (a simple photo sharing service), Fitness (workout videos and progress monitoring tools) and Kids (cartoons, games and puzzles). These are all presented in stunning onscreen menus, tarted up with brightly coloured graphics and cute animations.
It would be great to see more catch up TV content on Smart Hub soon – particularly ITV Player, which is found on Samsung’s TVs – but as it stands it’s still one of the best web portals in the business.
The HT-E5530 also allows you to stream content from DLNA servers through the AllShare Play menu. This interface shows you the available content on all connected devices, guiding you to your content through a series of folders. It’s all very logical and easy on the eye. The music playback screen is especially tasty, showing cover art, track details, an adjustable equaliser and repeat/shuffle options. Further options are available by pressing the Tools button.
The system will play back DivX HD, AVI, AVCHD, MKV, ASF, VRO, VOB, WMV, MP4 and 3GP, plus MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC and JPEG but sadly not FLAC. You can even play media from flash drives and external HDDs through the USB port, or stream music using its integrated Bluetooth receiver. With the exception of AirPlay, this system seems to have all bases covered.
It also decodes the full gamut of Blu-ray audio formats and spruces up audio with a range of processing modes. Under the Sound Effects menu you get a handful of weirdly specific music presets (Symphony Hall in Boston, for instance), while the DSP mode menu offers Virtual 7.1, MP3 Enhancer and Power Bass, all of which are fairly self explanatory. These are joined by 3D Sound Plus, which analyses 3D pictures and tailors the sound to suit – so if a plane’s coming towards you, the sound will too (in theory).
Elsewhere on the spec sheet you’ll find Wi-Fi Direct, Smart Volume, 2D-to-3D conversion and a CD ripping function, topping off a very generous feature list.