Samsung's HT-X200 is a one box solution for people who want a home cinema setup without having to spend an entire weekend setting up speakers and running cables around a room. The other big attraction is its striking design, which is impressive considering it only costs £260.
If there's one area where the HT-X200 scores highly, it's in the looks department. Rather than shoving all the usual DVD playing gubbins into an unassuming grey rectangular box, Samsung has instead gone for a sculpted, curvaceous design that looks gorgeous and is finished in a beautiful piano black paint job.
The main unit can be mounted either horizontally or vertically on its stand and the top of the case hides a grid of blue LED lights that act as the unit's main display showing what mode you're in (DVD, FM, Aux, etc) or the current volume level.
Given that this is a 2.1 system -- stereo speakers, plus a passive subwoofer -- setting it up was never going to be a big hassle, but Samsung has made the job even easier by putting a colour-coded speaker terminal on the main unit and supplying matching colour-coded speaker cables.
When it comes to hooking up the unit to your telly you'll find HDMI, component and composite outputs on the rear, but oddly Samsung hasn't included a Scart socket, so the system's not all that suited to users who have older tellies. Around the back there's also a digital audio input and stereo auxiliary connectors for feeding it digital or analogue audio from an external unit like a satellite, cable or Freeview box.
The DVD playback quality via the HDMI and component ports is really rather good, with largely noise-free pictures and strong natural colours. However, as you would expect the output from the composite port is less impressive.
As well as DVD playback, you can also use the system to listen to CDs and surprisingly, DVD-Audio discs. There's a built-in FM radio for tuning in to your favourite radio station and on the right hand side, you'll find a USB slot. You can use this to listen to MP3 or WMA audio files, view JPEG pictures or watch DivX movies from USB memory keys or external hard drives.
The HT-X200's Achilles' heel is its sonic performance. It can't really match the audio finesse of some other 2.1 systems on the market. The sound simply isn't balanced enough. You tend to get deep booming bass from the subwoofer and lots of high frequencies from the stereo speakers, but relatively little in between, which means that the audio has a rather harsh and lifeless feel to it.
Things are made worse by the puny virtual surround modes. While you can never expect a virtual surround sound mode to match the all-encompassing audio from a real 5.1 set-up, we've have heard 2.1 systems do a better job than the X200. Its virtual modes do add space to the sound, but they tend to have the side effect of muddying the overall audio clarity.
Another issue is that you've given practically no control over the audio as the system lacks any kind of bass and treble controls. The lack of the ability to turn down the subwoofer is especially annoying when you want to tame the bass output when other people in the house have headed off to bed.
Samsung has gone to town on the HT-X200's looks and produced a system that really stands out from the crowd. However, despite producing good quality pictures from DVD, it's let down by its sonics, which are for the most part lifeless and dull.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday