Just as we discovered on the BD390, the system’s disc loading speed can be ultra quick, taking just 30 seconds to load Spider-Man 3, but Terminator Salvation took a sluggish 55 seconds to load. With the latter, the picture quality on offer is excellent. The harsh, dusty detail of Earth’s post-apocalypse landscapes is presented in dazzling clarity, likewise the mechanical minutiae of the CG robots that give our human heroes such a hard time. It’s a superb picture, full of subtle shading and impressive contrast levels that make the frequent dark scenes easy to discern. It also nails the Silicon Optix HQV disc, suffering no major slip-ups with any of the tests.
But it’s with audio that the LG excels most. We slid the volume up to near maximum and zipped to the scene in chapter 6 where the huge robot attacks the humans, and were mightily impressed by the system’s phenomenally rich and powerful sound. The robot’s thumping footsteps and massive explosions get the whole room shaking, while the non-stop barrage of bangs and crashes are delivered with attack and intensity.
And when Christian Bale scraps with a Terminator in chapter 2, the sound of bullets hitting metal are fierce and convincing without jarring the eardrums. The unit’s surround channels also do a fine job of projecting themselves far and wide, resulting in a soundstage that doesn’t completely envelop but does achieve a convincing sense of space and scale.
Inevitably with a one-box product there are a few flaws to highlight. The sound of jet planes racing past the camera is a bit raspy, and while the sub is undoubtedly powerful, there’s precious little variation, precision or dexterity behind its bass notes – everything just comes out as a boomy rumble. But on the whole, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
And with music it’s much more sophisticated than we expected, handling Corinne Bailey Rae’s jazzy rendition of Since I’ve Been Loving You with a decent sense of timing and lots of detail – you can clearly hear the twanging of the double bass strings, while the tinkling piano high notes are clean and crisp.
Let’s cut to the chase – if you’re after a Blu-ray soundbar, this is the one to beat. With tons of features, including built-in Wi-Fi, HDMI switching and MKV playback, the HLB54S is more appealing on paper than the HT-BD8200, plus its sound quality has a bit more power and presence to it.
Yes it’s slightly more expensive than its Korean counterpart – in fact it’s expensive full stop – but you are getting a lot for your money. Just be sure to take the lack of built-in BD Live memory, the wall-mounting difficulties and its sonic flaws into account before brandishing the credit card.
Score in detail