Few companies manage a better price-to-features ratio than Samsung, and once again the HT-D5500 is like a showcase for everything that’s currently cool in the world of home cinema. You want to stream media files from your PC? You got it. The system is DLNA certified and supports a wide range of formats including DivX HD, MKV, WMA, WMV, AVCHD and JPEG (which it can also play from USB devices connected to the front port).
The system also grants you access to Smart Hub, its fresh new internet portal for 2011. This boasts a bevy of features not found on the previous Internet@TV service, including a clever Search All function that pulls up content from web apps and other devices, plus Your Video, which recommends movies to watch based on ratings and your viewing history, as well as providing detailed information about them.
There’s a newly-improved range of apps on board, including BBC iPlayer, Facebook, YouTube, LoveFilm and Picasa, plus loads of games, puzzles and stories for younger members of the family. In fact, the family theme continues with Smart Hub’s ability to group apps into different folders and rename them, letting you create a specific area for the kids. The layout is flashy and sophisticated but always easy to use, laying out app icons in a grid and allowing you to add new content from the Samsung Apps section.
On the 3D side, the HT-D5500 features 2D-to-3D conversion, which has filtered down from Samsung’s TVs and is a potentially useful feature for those who have already splashed out on a 3D TV without that technology.
Want more? How about the wide range of sound modes, including the new 3D Sound processing, which joins Samsung’s familiar DSP line-up of Smart Volume, Power Bass, MP3 Enhance and Virtual 7.1. Also returning is Samsung’s range of bonkers-sounding Sound Effect modes (Philharmonic Hall in Bratislava, anyone?) and Dolby Pro Logic II processing. The on-board Crystal Amplifier Plus musters a total of 1000W and the system can decode both Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio.
Add to that full BD Live support with 2GB of built-in memory and you have a very well-specced home cinema system for the money. You have to fork out a little more for some of the juicier stuff like Wi-Fi and wireless rears, but even with these added extras it’s still better value than some systems on the market.
What’s more, it’s a cinch to install and use. All the cables are in the box and the colour coding of the plugs shows you where to stick them in the rear panel. There’s an ASC (Auto Sound Calibration) mode that selects the appropriate settings for your room using a setup mic and test tones, removing what’s arguably the trickiest bit of the setup procedure.
Once that’s done, finding content requires zero brain power thanks to the gorgeous-looking onscreen menus, also new for 2011. Colourful animated icons and large text dominate the Home menu, and although it’s a touch hesitant to move from one option to the next it’s not too frustrating. Controlling these slick menus is a breeze too thanks to the remote’s thoughtful button arrangement. Everything is exactly where you expect it to be, plus the large rubber buttons and clear labelling will keep your brow positively unfurrowed.