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So your friends told you, and the salesman in the shop convinced you, that you must have a 3D full-HD LED TV. So you set off for home with the new TV on the back seat, rush to set it up and connect your trusty DVD player, ready to watch your movies like you’ve never seen them before. But, as the first DVD starts playing you feel somewhat cheated: the image is just not what you saw in the shops. Reality check — those beautiful 46-inch full-HD LED TV’s in the shops are most likely connected to a Blu-Ray player, and they were most likely playing How To Train Your Dragon which makes full use of the HD capabilities that 3D Blu-Ray offers.
So you may find yourself waiting for the next month-end to make another trip to the shops to invest in a new DVD player. In the interim, you decide to look around to find out what is available and you realise that the choices are almost limitless — how do you decide?
Well, let’s consider the Samsung HT-D5300 3D Blu-Ray Home Theatre System. In terms of technology, 3D Blu-Ray is the latest, and this system is priced around R2500 which puts an excellent viewing experience within an easy reach.
The system comes in rather small packaging which makes you wonder if this was the right choice. However, when you start unpacking the rather small front and surround speakers, you find their weight quite significant, weighing in at 4kg — if weight is anything to go by in terms of quality. The rest of the box contains the centre speaker, the sub and the home theatre, a bag with the speaker cables, an HDMI cable, video cable, FM antenna, iPod dock, the remote, user manual and a small microphone. The packaging itself is quite remarkable. The box needs to be almost pulverised for the contents to be damaged. Once unpacked, the components sparkle in a magnificent shiny finish (which makes me wonder just how dust repellent this is going to be).
Setting up is a walk in the park. The speaker cables and speakers are all colour coded and only the colour-blind could get it wrong. The only connection you need to make to your TV is a single HDMI cable. Plug the home theatre into the power socket and you’re ready to rock. Well, almost. Only after watching the second Blu-Ray DVD with sub-standard sound, I referred to the manual and found the reason: the microphone needs to be plugged in. I plugged it in, placed the microphone on my chair and ran the auto sound calibration from the home theatre and the sound was almost sorted — I simply made some minor manual adjustments to get it to my liking. The system offers the best in 5.1 channel audio processing so the sound is outstanding. Those little speakers which I initially doubted are excellent 165W/devices– for the enthusiasts out there, it is at 3Ω impedance. That is adequate to fill a standard sized lounge with a great theatre-like sound experience.
Unfortunately I could not test it with a 3D TV, but on my full HD LED TV, the picture quality was stunning. I must say that I enjoy the crisp picture quality when watching documentaries and animated movies, but the clinical correctness of the picture is not contributing to the enjoyment of, let’s say, a romantic movie. But then, I still listen to my LPs as I experience them to have more “soul” than their clinically correct CD counterparts. Perhaps I’m somewhat biased. That said, the experience is phenomenal if you take the time to set everything up correctly.
The menu system is logically set out and easy to navigate — even for the most technologically disadvantaged. Related functionality is grouped together in clearly marked menus and access via the remote is easy, although somewhat slow at times.
The great thing about this little system is that 3D Blu-Ray DVDs are just a portion of the overall experience it has to offer. It forms part of Samsung’s Smart offering which is a whole new approach to entertainment connectivity via your TV and DVD player. Just connect it to a wired or wireless home network that has an internet connection and a whole new world opens up for you. Right there where you are lounging in front of your TV, you can access the internet to search for movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, music from Pandora and connect to Facebook and Twitter. You can connect to other devices on your network and access videos, sound and image files and play music on your iPod through the Home Theatre by making use of the docking station. Oh yes, and it plays music, movies and pictures from a USB memory stick, or for that matter from most media devices that you can connect via USB.
The system also has a function called BD Wise which allows your BD Wise compliant Samsung home theatre to automatically adjust to the optimal settings of your BD Wise Samsung TV, no interaction from your side required! A nifty way of ensuring that you only buy Samsung products for the rest of your life.
There are some negatives: You need to buy the Samsung WiFi adapter, it’s not included in the package and is somewhat of a letdown as I did not manage to get pricing or availability on it, even on Samsung’s site. The player sounds like a manual egg beater when starting to read a DVD, but once playing, the noise disappears (or is drowned out by the great theatre-like sound) — I’m sure Samsung could have done a bit more work on this.
Finally, Blu-Ray is a developing medium and you will need to connect to the internet ever so often to ensure your Home Theatre runs on the latest software or you may find that you cannot enjoy the latest Blu-Ray DVDs, so its best to have it on your network right from the word go.
Would I suggest this system to my friends? Absolutely, and in my opinion it offers excellent value for money. The overall positive experiences outweighs the cons by far. Now I need to pack it up and return it to Samsung and revert to my DVD player which is going to be a huge step down in technology. Let me do some math for month-end…
Gear it or burn it: