The first Blu-ray cinema in a box sets a good standard for others to follow
Excellent spec for the money, including fine Blu-ray pictures and sounds, plus 7.1 speakers
very stylish looks
Treble is a bit harsh, whilst bass isn't quite deep enough
could do with a little more sonic solidity
It was inevitable that sooner or later we were going to see Blu-ray get the home-cinema-in-a-box treatment. And, sure enough, here's the very first one. It shouldn't be surprising that Samsung is responsible either - the Korean giant has always understood the importance of being first to market. But what is surprising is how reasonably priced and capable the HT-BD2 is. You only have to take a look at the box (roughly the size of a sumo-wrestler's coffin) to realise that you've got a lot of equipment for less than ú800. And none of that box is wasted air; instead you have a deceptively large, but very 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 by providing you with a full 7.1 package. The good spec news doesn't end there: you get 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. Born for Blu-ray Of course, this Samsung was born for Blu-ray. Jumper looks terrific in 1080p, with the Tokyo scene proving a particular pleasure. The neon-lights stand out in punchy fashion, while overall detail and edge-definition is terrific, and as the Mercedes weaves in and out of traffic, the 24fps support works a treat. The Samsung also pleases with sound; 5.1 effects are redirected to take advantage of the extra two speakers, and the benefit of this is an extra level of immersion. The high detail levels of the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack carry through from the speakers, and dynamics are pleasing. However, it's not all good, and 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 - the presentation isn't as solid as it could be. Picture is great, sound a tad harsh The Samsung fares better with the bleaker, 7.1 soundtrack of the Old Boy Blu-ray. The detail remains and the extra effects designed especially for the surround rears are worthwhile. Switching to DVD proves a similar experience. The rowdy soundtrack of Rambo is detailed, punchy and dynamically controlled, but lacks the overall roundness and depth of the best systems. However, the picture 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 Samsung has surprised us with a full range of video and audio support - and two more speakers than we were expecting. Overall, it's good value indeed.