- Superlative design and build quality
- Classy sound quality
- Plentiful connections
- Quick disc loading
- No network streaming or web content
- Lacks Wi-Fi
- Dolby Virtual Speaker ineffective
- Review Price: £649.99
- 3D Blu-ray playback
- 2 x 65W power
- BD Live
- Dolby Virtual Speaker
- 3 x HDMI inputs
- USB media playback
You can find 2.1-channel Blu-ray systems for peanuts these days, but if you’ve set your standards higher than a supermarket cheapie then Harman Kardon is here to show you what’s on offer with a bigger budget. At around £650 the BDS 270 ain’t cheap but it oozes luxury from every pore, and if its sound quality is equally luxurious then we might have a must-buy on our hands.
The system comprises the main BDS 270 unit, which includes a 3D-ready Blu-ray player and a 2 x 65W digital amplifier, plus the HKTS 200BQ/230 2.1-channel speaker pack (it’s sold in a single box). After unboxing the components it’s immediately clear that the BDS 270 is a cut above your average all-in-one system. The build quality of both the speakers and Blu-ray receiver is simply stunning – heavy, solid bodywork fashioned from high-grade materials across the board.
It also looks gorgeous. At 102mm high the Blu-ray receiver is chunky but in a good way, while the glossy black finish, curved corners and front-mounted disc slot are chic, distinctive touches. The white ring of light around the volume dial is another eye-catcher, although in the dark it’s a little distracting so you might want to dim it in the setup menu.
Tucked underneath this dial is a USB port, which allows you to play your digital media on the fly. The central dot-matrix display panel is easy to read, and on the brushed top panel you’ll find metal power and open/close buttons – the rest of the keys are reserved for the remote.
The rear panel is just as impressive, with a plentiful array of connections. Most pleasing is the provision of three HDMI inputs for running other HD kit through the system and an Audio Return Channel-compatible output. You even get component video input. Elsewhere there are two analogue stereo inputs and one output, three digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial), a remote control input, line-level subwoofer output and a linked trigger port that deactivates the sub when you switch off the main unit to save power.
You can also connect an iPod/iPhone via Harman’s optional The Bridge III dock (connected to the proprietary port) and there’s an Ethernet port for the player’s online functionality (which is sadly limited to BD Live). Even the heavy duty gold-plated binding posts are of the highest order, not the cheap springclips found on lesser systems.
Speaker build quality has a massive bearing on the overall performance, and thankfully they don’t let the side down. The front speakers are almost cylindrical in shape, solid as oak and styled in an alluring gloss black finish. On the back are push-clip cable connections, and cleverly the wires can be hidden away by feeding them through a hole in the removable stand.
Even the subwoofer is a visual treat – with its curved corners, lustrous gloss-black finish and compact dimensions you won’t want to hide it away.