There are a few handy features elsewhere, such as 1080i and 720p upscaling, which HD TV owners will no doubt appreciate even if the benefits are minimal. In addition, the Anynet+ HDMI CEC function makes it possible to control this system and a Samsung TV with the same remote.
But the coup de grâce is a side-mounted USB port, which turns the HT-X200 into a hub for your digital media files. The system accepts MP3, WMA, DivX and JPEG files through the USB port, but they can also be played from CD or DVD.
Also pleasing (and somewhat surprising at the price) is DVD-Audio playback, which allows you to listen to crisp hi-res music discs – though without rear channels you’ll miss out on DVD-A’s multi-channel element.
The lack of rear channels is also a hindrance if you want to experience 5.1-channel movies in all their glory, so in an attempt to compensate Samsung has included a pair of ‘V-sound’ virtual surround modes.
Rounding up the feature list is an FM/AM radio tuner, DivX video-on-demand support and a healthy range of DVD trickplay features like zoom, slow motion and repeat playback, plus a slideshow feature for JPEG viewing.
Once you’ve slipped a DVD disc into the slot, it soon becomes apparent that the HT-X200’s sound quality is no match for other 2.1 systems on the market. With the captivating ”LOTR: Return of the King” disc, the grandstanding action scenes sound harsh and overly aggressive, with too much emphasis on the top end frequencies. With the volume cranked up high, the clanking swords and screeching Nazgul effects go right through you, and not in a good way – the system grabs you, roughs you up and spits you out, leaving you praying for the next quiet dialogue scene to come along.
Its limitations are compounded by the ineffective virtual surround modes, which fail to throw the surround effects wide enough to make the soundstage seem adequately spacious. This confines the entire output to the front and compromises the clarity of dialogue.
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