LG LAB540W SoundPlate review: Pricey sound bar that plays discs, too

This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.
  •  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Sound quality: 7.0
  • Value: 7.0
Review Date:

The Good The LG LAB540W SoundPlate is unusually thin and stylish, capable of supporting most TVs up to 55 inches. It packs built-in Blu-ray, Wi-Fi, streaming apps, and Bluetooth into its small frame, as well as offering a wireless subwoofer for more low-end punch. Sound quality is very good, especially when listening to music, and movie dialogue sounds clear and natural.

The Bad The small drivers lack the warmth of the larger woofers on other sound bars and can sound small in scale. The faux-surround sound effect isn't as successful as other sound bars. And at $600, it's expensive, especially since not everyone wants or needs another Blu-ray player.

The Bottom Line The LG LAB540W SoundPlate packs Blu-ray and Smart TV functionality into an impossibly thin audio package, but you'll pay for the all-in-one convenience.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

When it comes to sound bars and other home-audio solutions, you need to consider what you'll mostly use it for: music or watching movies? Most of these devices perform decidedly better with one type of content, and unless you want to invest in a setup with discrete components, there are few Jacks of all trades. While perfectly decent with movies, the LG SoundPlate is decidedly in the music camp, which is a little surprising given it features a built-in Blu-ray player.

At a retail price of $600 USD, the LG LAB540W is far from cheap, but it does a lot for the money, including 3D Blu-ray playback, some input switching, and Bluetooth. Image quality is comparable a $100 Blu-ray player; if you don't need disc playback, LG offers the drive-less LAP340 ($280 USD street price), although that model lacks the wireless subwoofer. But if you're looking for all-in-one home-theater system that cuts down on clutter in the living room, the LAB540 is a fine choice, even if it should cost a little less.

Design

The LG is one of the thinnest speaker bases I've seen, at just 1.6 inches high -- which, amazingly, includes room for a slot-in optical drive. If you're even mildly OCD though (as I am), then the fact that the drive isn't centered on the front might bug you -- it's about 1 inch to the left of center. To the right of this is a six-character LED display.

lg-soundplate-lab540w-product-photos11.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The cabinet is designed to hold TVs of up to 55 inches, but this depends also on the base style of your TV. The pretzel-like back end of the 55-inch LG 55LA8600 (shown above) didn't quite look stable enough perched upon the SoundPlate for everyday use.

lg-soundplate-lab540w-product-photos12.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit comes in an attractive silver finish and features top-mounted capacitive buttons for playback. Meanwhile, the Power and Eject buttons are placed at opposite ends of the slot-in drive. Be aware that the main unit is plastic, not metal, and I found that it scuffs pretty easily.

The SoundPlate includes four 40W speakers on the main unit: two in front for stereo and two corner-mounted drivers for surround effects. The unit also comes with separate wireless sub that's the size of a small trash can at 11.7 inches by 11.7 inches and 13 inches deep.

lg-soundplate-lab540w-product-photos02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote is unusually large and includes a lot of buttons that are probably unnecessary, such as a prominent Sound Effect button and a Sleep key.

lg-soundplate-lab540w-product-photos09.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The menu system is the same one LG uses on its Blu-ray players and includes shortcuts to popular apps at the bottom of the screen. It is fairly easy to use with a simple grid layout.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Quick Specifications See All

  • Nominal (RMS) Output Power 160 Watt
    160 Watt