Samsung’s focus on innovation has earned it more “world firsts” than the Guinness Book of Records. And here’s another one for you – the HT-C6930W is the world’s first 3D Blu-ray home cinema system, bringing you immersive HD pictures and sizzling 7.1-channel sound in a single box.
The system comes with a pair of tallboy front speakers, four surround satellites, a centre speaker and passive subwoofer. They’re driven by a combined Blu-ray player/AV receiver that musters 1330W of audio power and decodes Dolby True HD/DTS HD Master Audio Blu-ray soundtracks.
Samsung supplies a wireless card and receiver unit for the surround speakers, which cuts down the amount of cables you have to conceal – but the surround back pair still have to be connected to the main unit which renders it a bit pointless.
The Blu-ray player section is basically the same as the BD-C6900 standalone deck, which means you get to enjoy its incredible range of features. 3D playback is just the tip of the iceberg – it also links up to the web using a built-in Wi-Fi receiver (802.11b/g/n), allowing you to download BD Live content onto the built-in memory, stream media from PCs and NAS drives or immerse yourself in Samsung’s Internet@TV feature. This includes a wide range of time-killing applications like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LoveFilm and Picasa, which are slick and fun to use at first but the novelty can wear thin after a while.
The entire package is immensely attractive in that inimitable Samsung way, and it’s surprisingly well-built. The main unit’s black finish, touch-sensitive controls and illuminated disc window are a knockout combo, although it’s not a great match for Samsung’s silver-clad UE46C8000 TV.
On the back you get a 3D-compatible HDMI v1.4 output, two HDMI inputs for switching between other HD kit, an optical digital input and an Ethernet port. You even get a connection for the supplied iPod/iPhone cradle. The front offers a USB port that supports DivX (SD and HD), AVI, MKV, WMV HD, MPEG4, MP3, WMA and JPEG – and pleasingly you can stream the same formats using the DLNA-powered AllShare feature, which is a joy to use.
In fact, user-friendliness permeates entire operating system, from the gorgeous onscreen menus to the foolproof remote. There’s even an auto calibration mode that optimises the sound for you using a setup microphone. That said, there’s so much in the box that you should set aside an hour just to put it all together.
Disappointingly Samsung doesn’t supply 3D glasses in the box – these cost around ?60. We slipped on a pair, fired up the 3D Blu-ray of Monsters Vs Aliens and were generally impressed by the 3D effect. The added depth and beautifully-layered visuals suck you in immediately, and the use of frame sequential full HD 3D means the entire screen is bursting with detail.
But as we got accustomed to the 3D image, our wandering eyes noticed some ghosting crosstalk in certain areas of the image, which is rather distracting. However, we have it on good authority that this is down to the TV (in this instance the UE46C8000). Obvious attempts to project objects towards you don’t work either – shifting your focus to view things in the foreground just makes your brain all confused.
Straight-up 2D Blu-ray images are staggeringly sharp and vivid, plus it does a clean and tidy job of upscaling DVDs to 1080p.
The system’s sound quality is good if not great, delivering a suitably sharp, detailed and powerful rendition of HD audio tracks, but the sub is a tad boomy and there’s a lack of finesse and control with top-end frequencies that sets it apart from a dedicated separates system.?
It’s worth noting though that this system boasts Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing, which allows you to move the surround back channels to the front of the room – ideally above the TV – and add a sense of height to the soundstage. It works particularly well with non-directional effects like rain.
We thought Samsung’s HT-C6500 was generously equipped, but this 3D-capable system blows it out of the water. With built-in Wi-Fi, comprehensive networking functionality, wireless speakers and tons of other features, it easily justifies its price tag (which, to be fair, is lower than you might expect, especially if you shop around online).
There are issues with sound performance that might tempt some people to pair the BD-C6900 player with a separates system, but on the whole there’s no denying that this is an astonishing one-box system.