The home-cinema-in-a-bar category is a relatively new phenomenon that comes in a wide variety of flavours, from Yamaha's sophisticated multi-driver Sound Projectors to more simplistic affairs, such as this variation from Samsung.

Not dissimilar to Philips' HTS8100 – it even has a similar designation – this Samsung is best considered as an easy-to-use upgrade on the standard TV audio system.

Cramming hi-fi, home cinema and all of your speakers into a neat box that screws to the wall below your TV is undeniably convenient. Unfortunately, the Samsung X810 is resolutely 2.1.

Decent performance

Still, it looks good in gloss black and the gently curved clear Perspex lip at the bottom echoes the design of Samsung's popular TVs.

The central disc drawer is invisible until it whirrs open. You can plug in two external sources – an MP3 player and a USB storage device.

An HDMI output upscales to 1080p, but its talents are limited; while the DVD player is good enough I'd perhaps be inclined to let my display upscale DVDs.

In vanilla 2.1 mode, music and movies get a welcome boost in quality over and above what the average flatscreen TV can manage. Even without the sub, dialogue is well projected and music splashes around the room.

Bringing in the wireless woofer adds a bit of wallop to deeper-bass lines.

Disappointing surround sound

Switch on the 'virtual' surround mode in the hope of a plausible surround effect, though, and you'll be disappointed.

Imaging is not particularly convincing. Consider it a 'suck-it-and-see' option, not a real reason to buy.

If you're not expecting HD image quality or full-on surround sound, the Samsung will hold some attraction.

The USB port on the side opens up the possibility of playing back music, video and picture files, as does Bluetooth connectivity. There's a component video and optical input for another AV source, too.

In short, this a multifunctional step up from built-in telly speakers and a DVD deck, but not a giant one