The HT33S also boasts LG’s now familiar range of features. For what it’s worth, DVDs can be upscaled to 720p, 1080i or 1080p via HDMI, while the Virtual Sound Matrix (VSM) mode attempts to mimic 5.1-channel sound from two speakers and the USB Direct Recording mode lets you rip CD tracks onto a USB memory stick. It decodes Dolby Digital and DTS, plus there’s also a range of EQ presets primarily for music listening.
All-in-one systems should always be easy to use and the HT33S certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s quick and easy to setup out of the box, and once it’s booted up, the onscreen design is clear, if not particularly sophisticated. The menus are well structured and we particularly like the interface used for playing back digital media – it’s split into Music, Video and Photo menus, and you can switch between them by pressing the Title key. To rip a track from CD, simply highlight the desired track on the menu and hit the record button on the remote. For iPod playback, there are two modes – one which plays whatever the iPod is playing, and another that lets you control the content using rudimentary onscreen menus.
Elsewhere the setup menu makes the crucial options easy to find (including the HDMI resolution settings) and the cursor moves about without any frustrating pauses or glitches. The fairly large remote is a bit too busy for our liking, but this doesn’t really get in the way of day-to-day operation as the main menu and playback buttons are intuitively placed. At the top are two buttons that let you toggle through the various inputs and sources, and to top it off the remote is finished with an odd dappled texture that makes it look a little bit like leather.
Obviously the system’s sound quality can never hope to match the energy and expansiveness of a full 5.1-channel system, but as 2.1 systems go this isn’t a bad effort. With ”The Bourne Identity” DVD in the slot, the system gets its teeth into the fast, frenetic action with aplomb – Bourne’s brutal fight scenes pulsate with solid, hearty thumps and crunches, ably beefed up by the surprisingly keen sub. It also gives it a lot of welly even at low volumes – we can’t vouch for the quoted 2 x 75W power output or the 150W from the sub, but it’ll certainly wake the neighbours.
What’s more, during the breakneck car chases the LG rattles out the screeching tyres and roaring engine effects with plenty of attack and expert timing, without any overt harshness to the high frequencies. And thanks to the prominent dialogue reproduction, the actors’ lines were consistently easy to hear despite the lack of a dedicated centre channel. Sadly VSM doesn’t deliver a very convincing approximation of 5.1-channel sound, but does add a smidgeon of extra width and spaciousness.