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 lounge.
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.
Wireless subwooferAlso in the box is a reasonably compact subwoofer that automatically and wirelessly synchronises with the bar, as well as an iPod dock.
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.
More after the break
Picture-wise it's extremely impressive, reproducing Law Abiding Citizen with superb detail and 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 surroundedUnfortunately, 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 like Law Abiding Citizen's cemetery ambush.
It's not all bad, though, as the LG can boast excellent subwoofer integration and voice projection, but it needs much more than that.