Looking at the connections and spec sheet, it’s clear that the HW-C450 was not designed with Blu-ray in mind. For starters it can’t decode any of the HD audio formats such as Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, and there are no HDMI inputs to support them anyway. It can, however, decode Dolby Digital and DTS, so at least it’ll play ‘standard def’ sound from Blu-ray decks.
The highlight on the feature list is the range of six sound modes, designed to suit different types of material. Most useful for film fans is the Cinema mode, which attempts to add an extra sense of spaciousness. For TV viewing you get Drama, Sports and News modes, plus there are Game, Music and Pass modes, the latter catering for those who prefer their sound straight.
There’s a couple of other audio features, such as Smart Volume, which keeps sound at a consistent level to account for fluctuations between programmes and scenes, plus Dynamic Range Control for late-night listening.
Given the simple nature of the product, there’s very little installation and setup involved. The subwoofer connects automatically with the soundbar (a little blue light indicates a connection has been made) and once rigged up the only speaker configuration you need to worry about is the subwoofer level – settings range from -6 up to +6. If there are lip sync problems, the AV Sync mode allows you to set a delay of up to 300ms.
Controlling the HW-C450 is easy thanks to the small, ergonomically-shaped handset. Buttons are kept to a minimum, but only the lower cluster of 12 keys relate to the system itself – the rest let you control a Samsung TV. The buttons are clearly labelled, and the different sections are separated by different colours.