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LG HB354BS: Both pretty and cool. So, pretty cool then

LG's new home theater in a box is quite the looker.

LG HTIB Blu-ray
LG Electronics

Blu-ray players look to have turned a corner this year--until now, they've been overpriced, badly specified, and worst of all, tedious to use. The LG HB354 is the latest to raise the bar, promising to bring a touch of glamour to the proceedings with its attractive styling and impressive features.

Clearly, this system is designed for people who want to de-clutter their lives. While the four-box 2.1 system does add some extra hardware to your home cinema system, it could, in theory, replace a small hi-fi, a DVD player, and a few other bits and bobs. Its iPod dock will appeal to anyone with a compatible device, and could form the basis of a likeable lounge audio system.

Blu-ray profile 2.0 is supported for interactive and online Blu-ray fun. There isn't quite the codec support we've seen on other LG players though--don't expect MKV playback. There is, however, some more basic Xvid and DivX support, as well as MP3s and JPEGs, so all isn't lost.

You do get a pair of HDMI inputs though, to connect up your other home cinema equipment. The advantage of this, of course, is that you get improved sound from games consoles and satellite receivers. In addition to the HDMI inputs, there are also coaxial and optical digital connectors too, for older equipment.

We have to admit to being suckers for the design of this little system. Although the main unit is pretty huge, it needs to be to cram in all those handy features. The two stereo speakers are tiny though, and will look terrific next to any modern TV. The sub is quite large, but can easily be tucked away somewhere to keep clutter to a minimum.

The other good news is that this player can load our test Blu-ray in a smidge over 42 seconds, which makes it the fastest player from LG, and means it's as fast at loading movies as the trusty PS3.

The HB354BS doesn't yet have an official price--which makes it hard to decide if it's a good buy or not. A full review will appear on the site lickety-split.

(Via Crave UK)