The Sony STR-DN1050 offers almost everything you could want in a midrange receiver with...
The Marantz SR5009 looks and feels more upscale than the competition's receivers, and...
Marantz NR 1403 - AV receiver - 5.1 channel
The Onkyo TX-NR636 offers a compelling mix of features and performance with "future proofing"...
They may not be popular with purists, but there's no doubt that you get plenty of bang for your buck when you opt for a home-cinema kit. The HT-BD1252 from Samsung is a good example. Not only do you get a 5.1-channel speaker set-up and surround-sound decoder, but you also get a BD-Live compatible Blu-ray player, iPod dock and media-streaming features. The HT-BD1252 will set you back around £450.
Samsung has a knack of coming up with attractive designs for its AV kit -- one of the reasons why its TVs have proved so popular over the last few years -- and certainly this talent for sexy styling is much in evidence on the HT-BD1252. The main unit looks quite snazzy, thanks to its petite dimensions, pleasant curves and piano black exterior.
But, while it wins marks for style, the system is rather lacking when it comes to build quality. When you hold the speakers in your hands, it quickly becomes obvious that they're made from relatively thin and light plastic. This is especially true of the tall speakers used for the front right and left channels.
Nevertheless, setting up the HT-BD1252 is pretty straightforward, as all the wires are colour-coded. Along with the two tall speakers, there's a very narrow centre speaker and two bookshelf-style rear speakers. The system also includes a fairly small, passive subwoofer that doesn't require its own power source.
As Samsung has kitted the HT-BD1252 out with a component video, as well as HDMI, connection on the rear, it can be used with older HD Ready tellies that lack HDMI sockets. Unlike many rival systems, however, there are unfortunately no HDMI inputs. Instead, you can only route audio from external devices, like games consoles, through the HT-BD1252 via the two digital audio connectors on the rear. You can also hook up the supplied iPod and iPhone dock via a port on the rear. This then lets you display pictures and videos from those devices on your TV, or play back your tunes through the system's speakers.