Occasionally a product comes along where we just can’t figure out how it’s been made for the price it’s being offered at. The LG HT902TB is one such system.
We find ourselves sat in the middle of a genuinely towering set of speakers belonging to a full 5.1-channel home cinema all-in-one system – complete with DVD deck –that’s yours for just £270. Amazing.
The four 1.2m ‘tallboy’ speakers enjoy a glossy finish and cute, semi-circular rear end, the centre speaker harmonises perfectly with most of today’s flat TVs, and the main DVD unit is every bit as attractive as LG’s pretty standalone DVD decks.
The only clunker is the subwoofer, which is effectively just an uninspiring big black box.
For such a potentially cumbersome system the HT902TB is a doddle to set up, with colour-coded speaker cabling and effortless-to-navigate onscreen menus.
A peek at the DVD section’s rear panel reveals three things we would not have taken as givens for £270: an HDMI output, a USB port and a digital audio input. As we’d hoped, the HDMI is there because the DVD section includes HD upscaling of DVDs to 720p or 1080i (though not 1080p).
The USB, meanwhile, allows direct playback from USB storage devices of music, JPEG and DivX files, while the digital audio input allows sources with digital audio outputs, like Sky+ and Sky HD receivers, to employ the HT902TB’s surround sound talents.
And surprisingly considerable those talents turn out to be. To be honest, for £270 we half expected the HT902TB’s speakers to be completely hollow. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The most striking thing about the soundstage is how exceptionally clean and detailed it is. The satellite speakers pick out, for instance, without a trace of harshness, every tinkle of breaking glass as nasty Alan Rickman shoots the office up for poor bare-foot Bruce Willis to cross in Die Hard.
Yet they also deliver an expansive mid-range sound, and integrate almost seamlessly with that hulking subwoofer. As for the rear speakers, since they’re exactly the same as the fronts they really manage to immerse you right in the heart of the action.
What’s more, the equality of all four main satellite speakers means that front to rear transitions avoid the usual sense of funnelling. In fact, for £270 we really can’t fault the HT902TB’s sonics.
Sadly, its pictures aren’t quite as successful. Coming to the system straight after Denon’s DVD-1740 DVD player, it’s impossible not to notice how much dotting noise there is in the LG’s pictures. What’s more, this doesn’t disappear if you upscale things to 720p or 1080i – even though upscaled images do benefit from some extra sharpness.
Still, it’s hardly fair to expect a picture performance as good as the £150 Denon’s when the LG system also provides a full size home cinema speaker package for only £120 more. And, aside from the slight noise, most other things about the HT902TB’s pictures are perfectly acceptable for the price.