A bargain price tag usually means you have to compromise on features. Not so with the Samsung HT-X30. It's a 5.1 DVD home cinema system with HDMI, a USB port as well as DVD-Audio and DivX playback. It's available online for around a mere £190. Seems like a bargain, but is this system too good to be true?
The X30 may not boast quite as striking a design as Samsung's smaller HT-X200 2.1 setup, but it's still a handsome beast. The main unit has a fairly conventional DVD player design, but the sloping front panel adds a touch of flair. Also, the small speakers are nicely rounded and small enough to be easily dotted around a room on book shelves and windows sills.
All the cables are colour coded so connecting the speakers is only hard if you can't tell your blues from your reds. If you'd prefer not to use cables for the rear speakers there is an optional wireless rear speaker amp available.
Around the back you'll find a decent array of video connection options including Scart, composite, component and that all important HDMI connection. The system upscales DVDs to 720p and 1080i and it also plays DivX, MP3 and WMA files either from DVD discs or via a USB stick or hard drive plugged into the front mounted USB port.
You'd have to have the eyes of an hawk to notice many jaggies or MPEG noise on the pictures from the system. Upscaled DVDs look fantastically clean and smooth for unit in this price range. It also does a good job on the DivX playback front. We chucked a sizeable collection of files at it and its performance was admirable with all of them.
Sound quality is impressive too. It's not fantastic when running at really extreme volumes, but at normal day-to-day listening levels, it's got plenty of guts. The subwoofer sounds nice and tight without over powering the smaller satellite speakers. Overall, you get a warm, balanced sound that's does a good job of reproducing even frantic action movie soundtracks.
We mentioned earlier the small size of the speakers. The benefit is that they're easy to hide away, but the downside is that they can't kick out the same kind of volume as those on larger setups. Samsung rates the output at 800W, but to us, that figure seems to be over-egging the pudding a little. If you've got a very large front room and you're looking for something that will rattle your teeth during shoot-out scenes, this isn't the system for you.
Also, unlike some more expensive systems, there's no fancy auto setup function. Instead, you have to manually tweak delay settings and individual volume levels. If you're able to accommodate for your speakers a perfect 5.1 layout, then this isn't a problem. If your room is a more awkward shape, you'll have to spend more time tweaking these settings to get the sound right.
Another issue that may bug some is that the upscaling from the DVD player only goes up to 1080i format. However, we don't think is a massive problem as the upscaled 720p and 1080i pictures look very smooth.
There are definitely louder-sounding home cinema systems on the market, but for this price, the HT-X30 puts in a surprisingly powerful performance. Add in clean pictures from DVDs and you've got a great little setup that doesn't cost the Earth.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday