Price (RRP): $1,099
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
Samsung’s HT-X810 is a combination bar-type speaker system with subwoofer and a built-in DVD player. It is wall mountable and comes with the necessary mounting hardware.
One special point of interest with this system is that the separate subwoofer isn’t (can’t, in fact, because it has no inputs) connected to the main unit with a cable. Instead they communicate wirelessly in the 5.8GHz band. All the subwoofer needs is a power point to be plugged into.
The DVD player, unusually these days, also plays DVD-Audio discs, the super high quality format for music that is, sadly, disappearing. It also has a USB port on the side and can, from this, display JPEG photos (although only at standard definition resolution), and play DivX and Windows Media video, along with MP3 and Windows Media Audio music. It will also act as a Bluetooth stereo audio device which you can use if your phone is full of music.
Setting up this unit was exceptionally easy because there really was only one adjustment to make. The wireless subwoofer connected automatically to the main unit once both were switched on. The sole adjustment was setting the subwoofer level. It was a little strong by default for my taste, so I just wound it down by a few notches.
Inserting DVDs and CDs was a little odd at first. The unit uses a slot, like a car CD player, but this is angled so upon first use, it isn’t entirely clear what angle you should tilt the disc to have it insert smoothly. Proceeding gently did the trick and it wasn’t a problem after that.
The whole system delivered a good punchy sound with music and the subwoofer’s bass delivery did a nice job, producing kick drums with plenty of impact. There was no unwanted noise issuing from the subwoofer, so the wireless connection did not hurt its performance in any way.
The video output from HDMI could be scaled to 720p, 1080i or 1080p from its default of 576p. The colour delivery was good and in general the picture was nicely sharp, but there were artefacts with some material. In particular, small text elements of the picture on some DVDs flickered noticeably, which was a touch off-putting. There were also some artefacts on finely spaced but moving parallel lines. These tend to be a marker of low-quality progressive scan conversion. My reference DVD players did noticeably better jobs on the same test clips.
For movies, the system generates a kind of pseudo surround sound, there being no rear speakers. This occasionally produced a little ambience, but only in a very confined ‘sweet spot’ immediately in front of the main unit. Surprisingly for these kinds of systems, this unit didn’t really expand the front ‘sound stage’ beyond the confines of the speaker itself.
I was a little concerned about the video performance from this unit, but the sound was quite good in view of its size and cost. The wireless subwoofer in particular was very useful, allowing an escape from the long cables that subwoofers otherwise invariably demand.