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LG HLB54S review

Ben Pitt
3 Nov 2010
LG HLB54S
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
447
inc VAT

Crisp, detailed sounds and plenty of inputs, but hardly any online features and it's not designed for wall mounting.

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Sound bars are the perfect accompaniment to a wall-mounted TV, and building a Blu-ray player into one keeps everything neat. As such, we're at a loss as to why this LG sound bar isn't designed for wall mounting, with a 195mm deep design that tapers towards the back. Did it not occur to LG's engineers to mount the Blu-ray drive vertically?

Instead, the HLB54S must sit on a shelf below or just in front of the TV. That means you'll probably have to get some furniture custom made or settle for a slightly clumsy setup where the sound bar may well obscure the TV's remote control sensor.

However, those who can find a suitable home for the HLB54S will be rewarded with an extremely handsome home cinema system. The slot-loading drive and touch-sensitive buttons ooze class, and the wireless subwoofer can be hidden out of sight. There are two HDMI inputs for hooking up a TV set-top box and games console, and Wi-Fi is built in. An external iPod dock is included, and it's easy to switch between the iPod's and LG remote controls.

LG HLB54S

The LG Netcast included is a cut-down version we've seen on other LG systems and only supports YouTube video. We were able to log into our YouTube account but this only let us view and not edit our Favourites, and didn't give access to Subscriptions, Playlists or our own videos. That meant the text search facility was the only way to locate our own videos – thankfully, entering text using the remote was relatively quick. Aspect ratios were handled correctly and the transport controls allowed fast forwarding and rewinding in 30-second jumps. HD versions of YouTube videos were unavailable, but that's true of all the blu-ray players we've tested to date.

Sound quality was generally high, but opinion was divided as to whether the strong high-frequency response sounded bright and clear or a little shrill and cold. The generously proportioned subwoofer had no problems handling explosive Blu-ray scenes at high volume. However, as usual for a sound bar, the ability to create surround sound effects from this narrow strip of speakers was questionable at best. At low volumes, there wasn't much discernable improvement over using our TV's built-in speakers.

The HLB54S is much better value than the Panasonic BFT800, and we prefer its bright tone to the Panasonic's relatively dull one. However, £447 is still a lot to pay for a home cinema system that doesn't support Blu-ray 3D, can't deliver true surround sound, offers limited online features (see below) and is a hassle to install. We'd much rather to spend less on a conventional 5.1 surround system.

Details

Price£447
Rating***

Connections

HDMI inputs2
HDMI outputs1
Component inputs0
Component outputs0
Output resolutionsPAL (576i), 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets0
SCART socket type0
S-Video input0
S-video output0
Composite inputs0
Composite outputs1
Stereo phono inputs1
Stereo phono outputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF inputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF inputs1
Optical S/PDIF outputs0
Multi-channel inputno
Speaker configuration2.1
Main unit end speaker connection typeintegrated
Speaker end speaker connection typeintegrated
Other connectionsUSB, iPod dock
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking support802.11n

Playback

Surround sound formatsDolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD HRA, DTS-HD MA
Optical driveyes
Supported playback disc formatsBlu-ray, DVD, CD
Audio format supportMP3, AAC, WAV
Video playback formatsDivX, AVC, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
Image viewing formatsJPEG
RadioFM

Speakers

Speaker configuration2.1
RMS power output430W
RMS power centreN/A
RMS power front280W
RMS power surroundN/A
RMS power subwoofer150W
Wall mountableno
Centre speaker cable lengthN/A
Front speaker cable lengthN/A
Surround speaker cable lengthN/A

General

Extrasremote control, composite cable, FM antenna, iPod dock
Size1000x195x104mm
Subwoofer dimensions215x359x402mm
Centre speaker dimensionsN/A
Front speaker dimensionsN/A
Surround speaker dimensionsN/A
Power consumption standby2W
Power consumption on44W

Buying Information

Price£447
Warrantyone-year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.amazon.co.uk
Detailshttp://uk.lge.com