You don't have to forego the latest in entertainment technology when you plump for a home cinema system. This system features not only an analogue TV tuner, but also a multi-format DVD recorder and a 160GB hard drive recorder, so it's less a home cinema solution, more an all-round entertainment centre.
The main unit is a sturdily built, smart black-and-silver box with a sleek 'lifestyle' design, smoothly operating volume knob, blue fluorescent display and discreetly top-mounted controls. On the back are two Scart connectors; composite, S-video, HDMI with 1080i upconversion, progressive scan component video outs, AV and optical digital inputs, antenna in/ out and a proprietary system connector to the subwoofer. Under a front flap are auxiliary AV inputs, a USB connector and a DV input.
The system has an FM/AM radio tuner with 50 presets, and supports Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II, DivX, XviD, MP3, WMA and JPEG, while the Super Multi drive recorder can handle DVD R/RW, DVD R double layer and even DVD-RAM.
Capacity of the 160GB hard drive ranges from 40 hours at HQ to 220 hours at EQ. Hard drive editing features include the usual selection of auto and manual chaptering, chapter hide, combine, protect and naming functions. Other features and functions include video input processors (TrueView, PerfectView, TrueScan Pro), Time-shift, simultaneous record and play, various DSP sound modes and XTS Pro, LG's proprietary frequency-response correction system.
The speakers come on stylish stands with weighted bases, and the sub is a big asymmetrical wedge with system and spring clip speaker connectors on the back. It also houses the radio aerial connectors.
Don't be fooled by this system's claimed rating of 700W 'initial max power'. This isn't a window-rattling weapon, though it has enough oomph to deliver reasonable volume without strain. The subwoofer certainly delivers, providing plenty of mid-to-low-level punch in the battle scenes in Kingdom of Heaven.
Imaging is good, with a sweet centre channel sound that makes it easy to listen to dialogue-based scenes. Music reproduction is fine too, perhaps not as detailed as the Denon's (reviewed p.89), but offering plenty of dynamic range.
Picture performance is highly dependent on input source. Recording offair to the hard drive at high quality from an external Freeview source resulted in a very watchable picture with strong colours and lots of detail. Switch to use of the lower-bitrate recording modes, though, and blocking soon cuts in. DVD performance is fine, with upscaling providing a confident and realistic image.
One of the better systems available, then, and with plenty of entertainment options for the future. This is an impressive system with all the facilities most users could require for their home entertainment needs.