Even when Blu-ray was but a twinkle in Sony’s eye, it was inevitable that at some point it would get the home-cinema-in-a-box treatment. And, sure enough, here’s the very first one from Samsung.
You only have to take a look at the HD-BD2’s massive box to realise that you’ve got a lot of equipment for less than £800. There’s a stylish main unit, a boxy subwoofer, and seven attractive satellite speakers – a horizontal centre, four stalk-like floorstanders, and two compact rears. That’s right; Samsung has gone the whole hog.
The good spec news doesn’t end there: there’s 1080p/24fps support for Blu-ray, decoding of all the HD sound formats, two optical inputs for a Sony PS3 or Freesat box, and DVD and CD playback. If we were being exceptionally greedy, we’d also like to have seen video-switching and a DAB tuner instead of the FM-only version that’s included, but we’d also like the moon on a stick.
Of course, this Samsung was born for Blu-ray. The overall detail and edge-definition is terrific, with the 24fps support working a treat in action flicks.
The HD-BD2 also pleases with sound: 5.1 effects are redirected to take advantage of the extra speakers, and the high detail levels of the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack carry through from the speakers.
However, it’s not all good – the subwoofer doesn’t go as deep as it could, and the satellites are guilty of being a little harsh at the top-end. There’s also a slight hollowness to the sound and the presentation isn’t as solid as it could be.
SD still pleases
Switching to DVD proves a similar experience. Rowdy soundtracks are detailed, punchy and dynamically controlled, but lacks the overall roundness and depth of the best systems.
The picture, though, is lovely, with the Samsung demonstrating excellent stability in the upscaled image. The Samsung has a fair stab at CD playback, too, offering decent detail and timing for a home cinema setup. The general brightness is still there, and there’s certainly not as much texture to instruments and vocals as a dedicated system, but it’s certainly not bad.
We expected the first Blu-ray home cinema-in-a-box to have spec gaps, but this kit surprised us with a full range of video and audio support and two more speakers than we were expecting. Well done, Samsung.