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Samsung HT-TXQ120R review: Samsung HT-TXQ120R

It's pretty hard to find AV stuff without '1080p' emblazoned on it in some way. The Samsung HT-TXQ120R is no different. This 5.1 surround-sound system proudly proclaims '1080p upscaling' across the front of the main unit.


Samsung HT-TXQ120R

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The Good

Simplicity; unique styling; 1080p upscaling.

The Bad

Included HDMI cable; inconsistent sound quality; price; annoying front panel display.

The Bottom Line

Its quirky stand-mounted DVD player and impressive sound quality can qualify the Samsung HT-TXQ120R to be a good enough system for those with a casual interest in home cinema. Still, the price is unlikely to be popular with such people

But if you have a 1080p screen, are you still in the market for buying a DVD player with a 5.1 decoder and speakers? We suspect you'll probably be enjoying hi-def games or films on Blu-ray or HD DVD rather than relying on your old DVDs. Does the Samsung satisfy those who do still want DVD playback and 5.1 sound with a smattering of upscaling? And does it justify the £700 price tag?

You'll need to love the look of this system before you spend this kind of money on surround sound, and it isn't for everyone. If you like the quirky stand-mounted DVD player, you'll probably think this system would look good in your home.

The inputs are located on the right hand side of the main DVD unit

The main unit is finished in piano black -- no surprise there, really -- and has a large, blue LED-based display. This does mean that in a darkened room, the system can prove distracting.

In terms of connectivity, the main unit has two digital audio inputs -- both of which are optical -- plus one HDMI input and one HDMI out. The inclusion of extra digital audio inputs is a good move, and it means you can hook your games console and other gear up easily.

In total, getting everything unboxed and plugged in took about 45 minutes. If you're using the speaker stands -- it's possible to wall-mount the speakers if you choose -- you'll need to screw the stands together. The same goes for the main unit.

The remote control is confusingly similar to the one you get with Samsung TVs -- we were testing this unit with its new 50-inch plasma, so a few times we picked up the wrong remote control. The good news is the DVD remote can also control a TV, which means you can probably just hide your other controller away.

The Samsung can upscale to 1080p via HDMI, which is an impressive feature, at least on paper. The reality of upscaling video to 1080p is that it won't improve the quality. The most important part of these players is how well they deinterlace video, and we didn't really have any complaints about how the Samsung handled this.

The Samsung supports a good range of formats, including DivX, XviD, MP3, WMA and even the high-definition audio format SACD. The inclusion of support for SACD is a little confusing. While we always welcome extra playback options, SACD is hardly something with mass-market appeal, and people with SACD collections are more likely to buy a component-based hi-fi system.

Getting the TXQ120R set up was nice and easy. As with many home-cinema systems, a microphone is provided that allows the unit to calibrate itself. This should mean you get the perfect sound balance without messing about for ages with individual channel levels.

This is what the display looks like when you're watching a DVD. It really is quite bright

Putting Blade 2 into the player produced a pretty enjoyable result, and we opted for the DTS ES soundtrack. Everything sounded pretty good, with the system doing a good job with dialogue, and the surround channels came alive at the appropriate points. The weakest point was the bass, which didn't quite have the sort of punch we were expecting. It wasn't a poor-quality sound, just a little less deep than we would have liked.

The upscaled DVD performance was also decent on our 1080p plasma. DVDs looked great: Blade 2 had plenty of colour and very little unwanted MPEG noise. If you have an HD television, this player will certainly help you get the best out of your existing DVD collection.

One of the things we really didn't like about the Samsung HT-TXQ120R was the stupid LED display. It's a truly ghastly inclusion and one that we would dearly like to see removed from future versions of this system. At the very least, we would expect it to be possible to turn it off, but you can't. Although it can be dimmed, it's still annoying.

What's possibly worse is that every time you pass a chapter mark on a DVD, it flashes the number of the current chapter up, which is especially distracting if you're watching in a darkened room.

The only other small issues were that it didn't like playing video from a USB memory stick, and there was one test disc we burned using Nero that we couldn't use in this player -- navigating through the menu wouldn't work -- but would play perfectly on another Samsung DVD player.

After spending some time with the TXQ120R, we didn't feel it was as well balanced as the LG HT902TB for listening to movies. There were certain kinds of music that we liked through the system. Some electronic and dance music sounded great, and some of the sillier DSP modes were actually decent for classical music, although purists would shudder at the thought.

Overall, we liked this system. It's a little too expensive, though, and doesn't offer a significant upgrade over the LG HT902TB or even Samsung's own HT-XQ100 to make it worth paying so much more.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday