LG LAB540 SoundPlate review

Has LG just killed-off the soundbar?

LG LAB540 SoundPlate Blu-ray Player

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That LG hasn't skimped on the 3D Blu-ray player inside the SoundPlate underlines that this is no gimmicky product. Sound quality is serious and it's plenty smart enough on apps, too. It's hard to see the soundbar – let alone the 5.1 home cinema – surviving the appearance of the SoundPlate.

We liked

The SoundPlate is just so easy to set-up, with just one cable needed, while the wireless subwoofer attaches and gets going within a second of being powered-on at the wall.

The choice of Premium apps on the home screen include a good haul with Now TV, BBC iPlayer, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, Blinkbox, Netflix and Knowhow Movies. Meanwhile, dedicated apps pages add YouTube, Dailymotion, CineTrailer, AccuWeather.com, Google Maps, Facebook, Crackle, iConcerts, Euronews and Deezer.

File support is great, too; I managed to get SoundPlate to support AVI, MP4, MPEG-2, AVC HD, MKV and WMV video, MP3, M4A, WMA, AIFF, WAV, FLAC and OGG music, and JPEG, PNG and GIF photos from both USB and a Windows laptop. Bluetooth streaming from any phone is also fabulously implemented.

We disliked

If the SoundPlate wants to truly act as a home hub, it should be fitted with at least two HDMI inputs for switching external AV gear. Who wants to get up to change cables on the rear of something hidden under a TV?

I was also a little disappointed that it didn't support a clutch of 4K-resolution MP4, MOV and MKV, especially since LG has traditionally been a trend-setter in the handling of digital media (and this very machine has other 4K features).

LG SmartWorld needs some more UK-centric action from the ITV Player, 4OD and Demand Five, while the usability of the SoundPlate's built-in web browser is hampered by the lack of LG's Magic Remote, a Nintendo Nunchuk-style pointer remote that's usually supplied with its Blu-ray players.

And the 4K upscaling? It's probably only worth using if you plan to go for a cheap-as-chips 4K TV; the big brand 4K TVs tend to have decent upscaling inside already.

Final verdict

Who needs a soundbar – or even a home cinema? LG's all-in-one 'soundstage' that slips underneath almost any TV and even builds-in a 3D Blu-ray player is the ultimate space-saver. The main unit links to a TV via optical or HDMI and pairs-up with a wireless subwoofer painlessly and without any kind of set-up procedure. SmartShare, and SmartWorld apps like Netflix and Amazon Instant, impress also, though it's the chance to easily stream music from a smartphone over Bluetooth that's the icing on this soundbar-killing concept.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),