The HT-BD8200 system is a 2.1 Blu-ray soundbar system with a neat design. One part of its appeal is its Blu-ray disc compartment, mounted between the soundbar's kelp fibre-coned speaker arrays.

Press the top-mounted eject button, and a motor hinges it gently down forwards to reveal the vertical disc slot.

Then there's the 100W active subwoofer, a glossy black affair that could be mistaken for expensive home cinema gear. It actually goes one better by communicating with the main system wirelessly, so it can be placed in the optimum location without having to worry about wires. Apart from its mains plug, obviously.

There's no escape from wires elsewhere, though. In a recessed compartment on the rear panel, socketry includes the HDMI port, an Ethernet jack, a USB port, an optical digital input for external sources, a composite video output (why?) and aerial input for the FM-only tuner.

On the side are further sockets for headphones, analogue audio input and the supplied iPod dock.

Like IKEA furniture, the BD8200 is designed for self-assembly. The main unit sits in a plastic desktop stand, but a pair of supplied brackets also allow it to be wall-mounted. This would be the practical and stylish option if you've wall-mounted your TV. Thanks to the integrated speakers and wireless sub, installation couldn't be easier.

The pleasantly-designed menus (and DHCP network auto-configuration) don't hinder you. However, as with the HT-BD1255 system reviewed recently, speaker setup could be improved. There may be a noise sequencer, but it's not augmented by channel level adjustments. These are, however, provided in a separate menu.

Thankfully, only three channels have to be adjusted here – against the BD1255's six. Other useful features include an AV sync delay and HDMI CEC.

Looks familiar

Visuals from Blu-ray discs and DVDs impress with their clarity, colour fidelity, and smoothness – I suspect the BD8200's disc player uses much of the same electronics as Samsung's highly-regarded budget models.

The sound quality is also more than acceptable, and the sub can generate some pretty impressive SPLs, certainly in modestly-sized rooms. Those low frequencies are handled adeptly with less colouration than I've heard from other 'system subs', too.

Considering how close the speakers are in the 'bar, I was pleasantly surprised at the imaging. The virtual surround mode, engaged with the handset's 'V-Sound' button, is good, with sound seeming to come from behind.

For many, an AV system mounted on the wall under a flatscreen TV is the ultimate in designer AV chic, and Samsung's HT-BD8200 is a strong performer. Yet, it's no substitute for a full 5.1 setup, but for the 'lifestyle-orientated' customer, what's offered here is more than an acceptable compromise.

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