By now we all know that the very best home cinema sound is achieved by matching separate electronics and full-size speakers. We also know that doing so is often too expensive, too much hassle, or too many boxes to fit in the living room.
That's where home-cinema-in-a-box systems come in. And at the neatest end of that category lies the LG HLB54S.
The main unit is a rather snazzy and slim soundbar, which boasts a smooth slot-loading Blu-ray drive, built-in amplification and four speakers that attempt to simulate surround sound.
Also in the box is a reasonably compact subwoofer that automatically and wirelessly synchronises with the bar, as well as an iPod dock.
Review continues after the break...
The 54S even has Ethernet and Wi-Fi for connecting to YouTube and accessing media files across your network, and there are two HDMI inputs for connecting additional sources like a games console or PVR.
Picture-wise it's impressive, digging up superb detail with bags of control. True, it lacks a little punch, but by class standards the HLB54S is vibrant and sharp, with smooth motion. It'll upscale standard-def DVDs deftly, too.
You're not surrounded
Unfortunately, things aren't so rosy on the sound front. We don't expect terrific immersion from a soundbar, but the LG is still disappointing, with surround effects struggling to stretch around the listening position, particularly in a large room. It's also a bit brash and cluttered, especially when pushed by big action scenes.
It's not all bad, though, as the LG can boast excellent subwoofer integration and voice projection – but it needs much more than that.