When looking to buy a 5.1 home theatre system, the overriding concerns are sound quality, features and style. The Samsung HT-TX500T excels in all three areas making it a well-priced option for those on a budget. It is a mid-range home theatre system with a built-in DVD player and can up-scale to 1080p resolution. In addition, the unit supports unprotected DiVX content via CD or DVD and even USB.
The design of this unit is far from discrete. The speakers blend with their stands to become full bodied speaker towers. The subwoofer is rather large and seems designed to be shown off rather than hidden away. Both the speakers and the sub-woofer share the same glossy piano black finish in keeping with Samsung television products.
The player component is not the same old black box that people have come to expect in a package like this. It is slot-loaded from the top and comes with its own stand as well. It doesn't sit flat on a table but is vertically mounted on the stand with touch controls along the top. The face of the unit is also glossy with a basic blue LCD screen hidden behind it. This screen displays information such as track name, operation mode and the like.
The HT-TX500T is certainly a system that is meant to be shown off and would best suit someone who owns a Samsung television as well.
The HT-TX500T is more than just a DVD player -- it can also support many popular video and audio formats including DiVX and XviD. However, it does not support DRM content or more obscure lossless audio formats like FLAC. We were particularly impressed that, in addition to CD and DVD, the unit also has a USB slot for flash-drive connectivity. This means that audio and video on your PC can easily be transferred to a thumb drive and played on the television without any hassle.
With a total of 1000watts across the system, the achievable volume is quite high. It's not as loud as some units we have reviewed ut it is easily more than most people will ever need.
The system can also scale DVDs at resolutions up to 1080p at a quality far better than we expected. The player has only one HDMI port but has two component connections and can support wireless speakers using an additional dongle (not included).
We tested volume and sound quality and were largely happy with the results. There was some fidelity loss at about 85-90% volume level but considering comfortable listening volume is around 50-60 per cent, we don't expect this will become a problem for most people. The speakers were clear with good mid-tones and quite surprisingly detailed treble registers. The sub-woofer delivered excellent bass in the various movie modes, but when switched to "music" mode, the bass tended to overpower the vocals. We recommend listening to music in either stereo mode or on default cinema settings.
The player delivered adequate image quality at standard definition (576p) and even when scaled to 720p, 1080i and 1080p. This is, of course, considering the limitations of the DVD format. There was a degree of image noise and pixelation when scaling to 1080p but that is understandable and somewhat expected.
The USB functionality is fairly rudimentary but the Samsung has simple navigation controls and is easy to use. While audio and video playback was excellent, we were disappointed with the JPEG viewer as images lost a great deal of detail and were automatically cropped to fit the 16:9 confines of the television.
The Samsung HT-TX500T is a well-priced home theatre solution without any major sound quality issues, adequate DVD playback and a host of additional features. Samsung also offers a 7.1 version with integrated Blu-Ray player for those interested in 1080p cinema (HT-BD2T).