All-in-one DVD home cinema systems are a godsend for movie buffs who demand the best environment in which to watch films, but don't have the cash to splash on a custom installed personal mini cinema. Their design is also coming on in leaps and bounds to complement the latest desirable flatscreen TVs.
The Samsung HTP-1200 is certainly a head-turner but it's unusual styling might not suit all tastes. The four slender satellites are all mounted on stands - so far, so conventional. But so is the main unit, giving it more than a passing resemblance to a roadside speed camera; albeit a very chic and stylish one!
The subwoofer is a bit of a beast and handles all of the amplification for the system, with a sizeable 800W power output. The centre speaker meanwhile lies horizontally and will fit neatly under a wall-mounted plasma or LCD screen.
But apart from its unusual styling, the big selling point of this system - and the reason we assume it carries a slightly more expensive price tag than its rivals - is the inclusion of an HDMI output for all digital signals.
This system is among the first to include this socket and while it's a definite highlight, the rest of the connectivity is average: composite and a progressive-scan-only component output feature, but Scarts or S-video are not included. Other goodies on the spec sheet are DVD-A/SACD playback and automatic sound calibration to adjust the audio output to suit your viewing room.
If you plug this system into a nonprogressive scan TV, you'll be pleased to see that the composite connection delivers a respectable signal, but you will notice colour noise and picture flaws on larger screen sizes and the brightness will seem a touch high.
Moving up the scale to component and HDMI, the pictures become impressively solid when viewed on compatible panels - even on screens up to 42in in size - and are pleasingly free from noticeable flaws.
The HTP-1200 is a formidable performer in the audio department, with the mighty subwoofer delivering a powerful performance not only in the bass department but also to the satellites via its amplification duties. The centre speaker handles dialogue and does a sterling job with it, too.
Give the speakers music to deal with rather than a film soundtrack and the HTP-1200 reproduces both the high-resolution DVD-A/SACD and regular stereo CD formats with a clarity and effortlessness that will please demanding audiophiles that are on a budget.
Whether or not you decide to plump for the HTP-1200 will be largely influenced by the type of screen you intend to plug it into. If it's a futureproofed flat screen you'll be fine, but unless your set has the specs to take full advantage of its capabilities then you'd be better served by a system with more connectivity. Michelle Long