Increasingly, there are fewer reasons to go to the cinema. Let's face it: the people who go to movies now are brash, talk constantly to each other or are on their mobile phones, and generally make the whole experience an expensive waste of time. On the other hand, your house is quiet, has cheaper snacks and the youth are unlikely to be sitting in the corner snogging making comedy remarks -- unless they're your kids, in which case you can tell them to be quiet.
Sadly, in the quest for cinema quality, most people spend too much on their TVs and forget to save some cash for a good sound system. Samsung has created the HT-X715, a £350 DVD player with built-in surround-sound decoding and amplification, which comes packaged with all the speakers you'll need to start enjoying movie surround sound.
The X715 is designed to complement the Samsung's 'rose black' range of TVs, as it's finished with the same subtle red tone. We're pleased to note that it looks good with any TV, including the LG Scarlet we used to test it.
In this nicely-styled pack, you get all the speakers you'll need. The front speakers are designed to stand on a table or be wall mounted. The rear speakers can be placed on a bookshelf or screwed to the back wall. The subwoofer is designed to be put in a corner and forgotten about, while the centre speaker needs to be put beneath or above your TV.
Everything you need comes in the pack, including the speaker cable -- which is pretty thin and weedy -- and there's even an HDMI cable included, which we were pleased to see.
One of the problems we noticed during testing was that this machine is dust magnet. The main unit especially seemed irresistible to every particle floating in the air. You're going to need to clean this thing regularly if you want people to be impressed by it when they come over for movie night.
The Samsung certainly offers one obvious advantage over a separate AV receiver and speaker system: it's a one-box solution. You buy it, lug the gigantic cardboard box home and then put it all together. With a separates system, you have to select your components individually, although companies like Onkyo do sell packages.
Of course, the other positive is that you get a DVD player built in, which generally upscales to 1080p. The mileage you get out of that functionality will depend on how bad your current DVD player is.
Happily, like so many systems now, you get DivX playback included, as well as some nice extras including the ability to connect to a mobile phone or PC using Bluetooth. That's actually a pretty good way of casually enjoying music or podcasts from your phone or Bluetooth MP3 player (Sony and Samsung both offer MP3 players with built-in Bluetooth).