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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.