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Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen review: the best portable projector gets even better
2:00 pm | February 25, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Theater Projectors Televisions | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen: one-minute review

Samsung’s first The Freestyle projector created quite the buzz with its compact, cylindrical form and superior streaming capabilities compared to other portable projectors. Notably, it featured the same Tizen smart TV interface found in the company’s TVs, which let viewers easily stream from a wide range of apps while also allowing for voice control via Samsung’s Bixby or Amazon Alexa voice assistants. Beyond that, the original The Freestyle could beam images as large as 100 inches, and it provided auto focus and keystone adjustments to quickly align pictures on any surface you pointed it at. We liked it so much when we tested it, that it rocketed to the top of our list of the best portable projectors.

The Freestyle 2nd Gen doesn’t stray too far from the original, but does get a key update with Samsung’s Gaming Hub, a section of the smart interface that houses a range of cloud-based gaming services such as Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik, and more. This new feature lets you pair the projector with wireless gaming controllers and play premium games without having to connect a physical console – something the Freestyle 2nd Gen’s single micro-HDMI connection doesn’t make easy anyway.

Samsung offers a range of accessories to pair with its portable, including a rechargeable battery base that will give you around 3 hours of playback time and an adaptor to plug it into a standard ceiling light socket for power. While most users won’t need to have images beamed down from the ceiling onto a table or floor, having that capability is just one of the things that makes the Freestyle 2nd Gen a more flexible and fun option than typical projectors.

The Freestyle 2nd Gen’s LED light source provides only limited brightness, which means you’ll get the best picture when viewing in a dim room, or at nighttime if viewing outdoors. Even in those conditions, the projector’s picture lacks the detail and punchy contrast you can expect from the best 4K projectors, making it more of a convenient means to project a big image than a high-quality one. But the Freestyle Gen 2’s compact design and excellent feature set still make it a great portable projector, one that will easily fit in your backpack.

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: price and release date

  • Release date: August 2023
  • MSRP: $799 / £649

Samsung’s The Freestyle 2nd Gen sells for $799 /  £649. At this writing it is not currently available in Australia, and availability appear to be limited in the UK. The $799 list price is somewhat high compared to other 1080p HD-res compact portable projectors, though it does offer some unique features not found in the competition such as Samsung’s Gaming Hub. 

The Freestyle 2nd Gen gets regular discounts during holiday sales events, where it sells for around $599. That price makes Samsung’s portable projector a much better value than at its $799 list price, so sales are worth seeking out and waiting for.

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Gaming Hub interface

The new Samsung Gaming Hub interface (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: Specs

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen on table with battery base

Samsung's optional battery base accessory provides around 3 hours of power before needing a recharge (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: design and features

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Tizen smart TV interface for streaming
  • Samsung Gaming hub for cloud-based gaming

The Freestyle 2nd Gen sports the same white cylinder form factor as its predecessor. At just 1.8 pounds, it’s easy to tote around the house and is compact enough to easily stash in a backpack. An included cradle stand rotates 180 degrees and can be tilted 90 degrees, giving you plenty of flexibility as to where you beam images, ceilings included. 

Samsung includes a SolarCell remote control that doesn’t require batteries (as the name suggests, it draws energy from available light sources, as well as from your home’s wireless network) and the projector can also be controlled via Samsung’s Bixby or Amazon Alexa voice commands. Such commands can be executed by pressing and holding the Mic button on the remote, but the projector also has built-in far-field mics for hands-free voice control.

The single-chip DLP projector uses an LED light source that Samsung specs for 30,000 hours of use. Auto focus and keystone adjustments let you position the projector even at extreme angles from the wall or other surface you’re projecting on and The Freestyle 2nd Gen’s image will automatically align itself to a 16:9 aspect ratio. Those adjustments can also be carried out manually (and in many cases you'll want to tweak the keystone and focus settings), and there’s the option to shrink the image to a smaller size without physically moving the projector.

Samsung offers a range of accessories to use with The Freestyle 2nd Gen. A socket adaptor lets you plug the projector into a light socket, and is mainly intended for projecting from the ceiling onto a floor or table. There’s also a battery base, which provides several hours of charge and lets you use the projector indoors or out without having to connect to power. A carrying case is another accessory and one that will protect The Freestyle 2nd Gen if you’re bringing it outdoors or to another location.

The Freestyle 2nd Gen is all about streaming and features the same Tizen smart interface found in the company’s TVs. This provides pretty much any streaming app you could want and also has Samsung’s Gaming Hub onboard for cloud-based gaming from services such as Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik, and others. The projector uses the somewhat dated Wi-Fi 5 standard for streaming, although I didn’t have any issues during my time with it.

As a streaming-centric projector, connections on The Freestyle 2nd Gen are limited to micro-HDMI. No HDMI-to-micro-HDMI cables or adaptors are included, so, like me, you’ll probably need to order one online to be able to plug in an external gaming console, Blu-ray player, or other HDMI source. The micro-HDMI connection supports HDMI-ARC, which allows you to connect it to a soundbar or other audio system. Another option is Bluetooth, with dual Bluetooth supported for both wireless input and output connections, and there’s also wireless app casting from iPhones and Android phones.

Samsung calls The Freestyle 2nd Gen’s built-in 5-watt audio system “360 Degree” sound, and during my use, it did provide surprisingly spacious sound, although with unsurprisingly limited bass. The projector can also do double-duty as a wireless speaker for streaming music via AirPlay or Bluetooth, boosting its already impressive features list.

  • Design and features score: 4.5/5

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen beaming picture at screen

With The Freestyle 2nd Gen, you'll get the best picture quality results when viewing  in a dark room (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen review: picture quality

  • Limited brightness
  • Relatively accurate Movie picture mode
  • Plentiful picture adjustments

Lower-cost LED-based portable projectors typically don’t put out a very bright image, and having seen The Freestyle 2nd Gen in action before starting this review, I knew I would have to temper my expectations. With the picture blown up to maximum size on a 100-inch screen, it was noticeably dim, even when viewed in a completely dark room. Using an ambient light rejecting screen with 0.8 gain, I measured a mere 7.3 nits in Dynamic mode on a 10 percent white window test pattern, and 6.6 nits in Movie mode. By way of comparison, a standard home theater projector such as the BenQ v5000i ultra short throw model I recently tested can deliver 125 nits under the same circumstances.

Image brightness got a boost when I positioned the projector for a smaller picture (there is no zoom lens, though images can be digitally scaled to a smaller size), though it still seemed relatively dim. Picture contrast was decent, with blacks in images showing a good degree of depth, though shadows lacked detail, appearing as more of a dark gray mass.

Colors were most accurate in the Movie picture mode. With that selected, I measured color Delta-E (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) at 5, and the grayscale Delta-E at 14.1. They were notably less so in the Standard and Dynamic modes, but even so, I preferred Standard because it provided a slight brightness advantage over Movie. Watching Asteroid City streamed on Amazon Prime, the film’s hyped-up color scheme came through with all its garishness intact, though there was also a softness to the picture, which was being downscaled to the projector’s native 1080p format.

The projector supports HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG high dynamic range, but I didn’t see much of a picture quality difference when viewing in HDR from standard HD format – something the above peak brightness measurements, which were taken with the projector displaying in HDR backs up. As for other measurements, Samsung’s projector managed 88.5% P3 color space and 68.9% BT.2020 color space coverage, and input lag was 62ms with Game mode active. That last number is a relatively high one compared to what you’ll see from the best gaming TVs, as well as certain projectors such as the BenQ v5000i, though I didn’t have any issues when playing Xbox games in Samsung Gaming Hub.

  • Picture quality score: 3.5/5

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen inputs section

Side-panel connections include one HDMI with eARC and a USB-C port for power (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: value

  • Pricier than portable competition
  • Frequently gets discounts
  • Enhanced value for gamers

At its $799 / £649 list price, the Freestyle 2nd Gen sits in an awkward spot value-wise. It costs twice as much as other portable 1080p LED projectors with similar brightness specs such as the Anker Nebula Solar Portable. And spending around $1,000 more will get you a 4K model with a significantly brighter laser light engine such as the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K.

If you find the Freestyle 2nd Gen selling at a discounted price, while still not cheap, it’s value gets a boost. The main advantages Samsung’s projector holds over similar models are its highly flexible setup options, easy portability, and superior smart interface for streaming and gaming. If limited brightness won’t be a big factor in your buying decision, there’s plenty to recommend the Freestyle 2nd Gen.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen remote control held in hand

The projector's remote features a built-in mic for voice commands (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen?

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen close up of lens and controls

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if… 

Also consider...

Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K
This powerful portable has a laser-based light engine with a whopping 2,400 lumens brightness, though it costs more than twice what you’ll pay for the Samsung. It also has a stunning design, though there’s no built-in battery for easy outdoor use.

Read our full Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K review

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen smart interface

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen

  • I spent about 5 hours in total measuring and evaluating
  • Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
  • Used with an Elite Screens Kestrel Tab-Tension 2 CLR 3 projection screen

When I test a projector, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Filmmaker, Movie or Cinema) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.

Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using a 10% white window pattern. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the projector can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.

Unlike many portable projectors, the Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen provides a full range of adjustments to calibrate its picture. And while most users aren’t likely to bother using these, it’s nice to know they exist. Knowing that Samsung’s portable will almost exclusively be used for casual viewing, I bypassed a calibration and relied on both streaming reference 4K Blu-ray discs to test its performance in the Movie, Standard, and Dynamic preset picture modes

My projector testing experience spans almost three decades, going back to the early three-gun CRT models.

First reviewed: February, 2024

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: only smouldering
4:32 pm | February 15, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Tablets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023): two-minute review

The budget tablet world that the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) enters is a much different one than its predecessor, the Fire HD 10 (2021) did. Not only has every tech company and its mother began pumping out low-cost Android tablets, but even Amazon has created its own bigger-body rival in the form of the Amazon Fire Max 11.

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the newest entry in Amazon’s line of low-cost entertainment slates, each of which gets refreshed biannually. The Fire 7 is the budget option, the Fire HD 8 is the Goldilocks model and the Fire HD 10 was the big-screen behemoth – but the Max 11 steals its thunder now.

This is still a tablet you may well consider. It has a large display, perfect for watching movies on journeys, and it’s inextricably linked to Amazon’s ecosystem: you can read Kindle books, stream from Amazon Music, watch movies and shows from Prime Video, review novels on Goodreads, stream from FreeVee and more. Rival apps are available too, including Spotify and Netflix, making this an all-around entertainment beast.

Amazon’s tablets remain some of the most popular non-iPad slates on the market, and it’s because they’re cheap and cheery. That doesn’t mean they’re not full of little annoyances, though.

By being tied to Amazon’s ecosystem, it means this slate is hard to properly use if you don’t have a Prime account. Plus, unless you pay more, the user interface will be chock-full of adverts, which can be incredibly annoying.

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)

While Amazon has long sold accessories for its Fire tablets, it’s making more of a push for them with the Fire HD 10, offering various bundles with its new stylus, keyboard case or kid-friendly cases. We didn’t test the slate alongside any of these accessories, but they’re options that make it a better rival for all the new Android tablets cluttering up the market now.

So what place is there for the new Fire HD 10? Uh – not much, but that’s its own fault.

When designing its new tablet, Amazon must have heard the term ‘iterative update’ and confused this derogatory dismissal with a goal. The 2023 model is basically the same as its predecessor; while its front camera is higher-res, it’s slightly faster and slightly lighter, that’s not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things. 

While the Fire HD 10’s lower price than its Max 11 counterpart ensures that it still has a price in Amazon’s line-up, we can’t help but advise cost-savvy buyers to try and find the 2021 model of Fire HD 10 and save a penny or two. And if price isn’t an issue, just go to the Max 11.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: price and availability

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Went on sale October 2023 in US and UK
  • Base price is $139.99 / £149.99 (roughly AU$220)
  • For more storage and ad-free navigation, costs $194.99 / £189.99 (around AU$280)

The newest Amazon Fire HD 10 went on sale in October 2023, and unlike its predecessor, it wasn’t accompanied by a Plus sibling. The Fire Max 11, released in May 2023, was just the same.

The Fire HD 10 (2023) costs $139.99 / £149.99 (roughly AU$220, though we couldn’t see the slate on sale in Australia yet). That’s for the most affordable configuration, with 32GB storage and ads on the lock screen.

If you pay $40 / £30 (around AU$60), you can bump the storage up to 64GB, and $15 / £10 (around AU$20) will remove the ads from the lock screen. For both, you’re paying a grand total of $194.99 / £189.99 (around AU$280). 

Once you’ve bought the tablet, you better keep your credit card handy, because there are plenty of extras that you may need to shell out for. Not only is an Amazon Prime subscription handy ($14.99 / £8.99  per month, $139 / £95 per year) but there’s the Stylus Pen ($34.99 / £34.99), Bluetooth Keyboard Case ($49.99 / £52.99) and standing protective cover ($39.99 / £42.99) that you can splash out on should you wish. None are strictly necessary, but will just help you protect your tablet more or use it to its fullest extent.

Amazon isn’t alone in charging you an arm and a leg for tablet accessories, with Apple’s versions costing much more, but many of the Fire’s rival tablets do come with extras included. Samsung tablets have an S Pen in the box, for example.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: specs

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) specs list will be familiar to anyone who's glanced at the facts and figures on a previous Fire slate. Here's how it's looking:

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: design

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Big protected plastic hunk
  • Lighter and slightly smaller than previous model
  • Comes in black, blue or lilac

The Amazon Fire HD 10 follows all previous Amazon tablets in being a large plastic box – and that’s not an insult. This is a utilitarian design made from a durable material, and more so than many other slates it’s ready to survive being dropped, being sat on and being left in the bottom of very-full bags.

Weighing in at 433.6g, the tablet is 30g lighter than its predecessor, though you’d need scales to notice such a difference. There’s no such dramatic size shift in the dimensions either, as at 246 x 164.8 x 8.6mm, it’s only 1 x 1.2 x 0.6 mm smaller than the 2021 model. 

The front of the tablet boasts a front-facing camera along one of the longer bezels, like many modern-day tablets (slates of yore often put them 90-degrees around, resembling smartphones so the camera would be at the top when held portrait, but this is awkward for video calls). 

Around one edge of the slate you’ve got a USB-C port for charging, a 3.5mm audio jack so you can plug in headphones instead of relying on wireless, and the power button to wake the device or send it back into its slumber. All the important buttons and holes are on the same edge, leaving the rest clear.

Amazon is offering the tablet in three color options: black (as our test unit is), lilac or blue. The accessories you can buy generally match these colors, though Amazon sometimes sells themed accessories too.

If you’re considering buying the Amazon Fire HD 10, bear in mind that it’s a fairly big tablet, and the Fire HD 8 and Fire 7 are smaller. They’ll fit in bags easier, and the latter can even slip into pockets – though the FIre HD 10 is far from the giant slates that Apple and Samsung make.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: display

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)
  • 10.1-inch 16:10 1920 x 1200 display
  • Fine for its apps but nothing stellar
  • Third-biggest of four tabs in Amazon range

There’s an easy way to remember the screen sizes for Amazon tablets: the company literally puts it in the name (basically, at least). The tablet’s display is 10 inches (well, 10.1 inches) across diagonally, which is 2 inches bigger than the HD 8, 3 inches bigger than the Fire 7 and 1 inch smaller than the Max 11.

The pixel count is 1920 x 1200, or FHD. That’s the same resolution as the vast majority of videos you’ll get from streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video – totally fit for purpose.

Don’t expect stellar viewing experiences: it’s a little dim, only has a 60Hz refresh rate and lacks vibrancy in the colors. But if you just want an affordable screen to entertain kids, or for you to read Kindle books on, it’ll do just fine.

  • Display score: 2.5/5

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: software

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Fire OS 8 is based on Android 11
  • Software is full of Amazon apps and features
  • Some uninstallable apps

Like all Amazon tablets, the Fire HD 10 comes on Amazon’s home-brewed software, called Fire OS 8, which is a distant cousin of Android 11 (that is to say, it’s based on it). Fire OS definitely doesn’t feel like Android, though.

The entire user interface of Fire tablets revolves around entertainment. The home screen has widgets for discovering new movies and TV shows on Prime Video or Freevee, books to read on the Kindle store, extra streaming services and games you might want to download. By default, you’ll have most of Amazon’s subscription service apps installed like Amazon Music, Audible and Goodreads. From the home screen, swiping right takes you to a list of recommended games, books and film/TV, while swiping left takes you to your entire library of things installed or available to you based on your subscriptions.

That is to say, this isn’t a tablet designed for people who need a creative or business tool. It’s for entertainment, specifically of the moving picture or word variety (though there are several audio apps too).

It’s also a tablet designed for people with active Amazon Prime subscriptions. Prime Video, Amazon Music and Amazon Shopping are three of its most prominent apps, while Kindle, Freevee, Audible and more all require Amazon accounts (but not Prime). If you’re not on Prime, you’re going to find that a limiting factor in enjoying the slate.

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)

Credit where credit’s due, Amazon does allow its competition onto the slate. Netflix, Disney Plus and a few free streaming services are there if Prime Video and Freevee aren’t cutting it, and Spotify is there for everyone who can’t be bothered to try out Amazon Music.

If you are in the Amazon ecosystem, the Fire tablet has a few extras that will help you. Not only is Alexa the only smart assistant, with the Google Assistant having been dumped on Android’s journey to Fire OS, but there’s a handy button always on-screen (on the navigation bar), that brings up your Device Dashboard.

The Device Dashboard basically lists all your Alexa-enabled gadgets, so you can control them from one place. Smart bulbs, appliances, plugs, blink cameras and so on – all can be at your whim from this one place.

Compared to most other Android forks, Fire OS offers little in the way of customization options, with a few alternative wallpapers but none of the style perks that newer builds of Android offer. You also can’t remove most of Amazon’s apps, even the likes of ‘Amazon Kids’, which there’s not much need for if you’re not a child. 

It’s hard to avoid accusing Amazon of adding its own bloatware to the Fire HD 10 when you’re not given a choice of whether you keep it or not; instead, it’ll stay blocking up your home screen.

It's here that we've got to mention that, if you don't add on ad removal when you buy the tablet, you'll be shown annoying ads every time you open up the slate's lock screen. These can be very bright and distracting, especially the ones that include videos that can play when you try to unlock the device.

  • Software score: 2/5

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: performance

  • Low-end Mediatek MT8186A with 3GB RAM
  • A 5MP front-facing camera and another 5MP snapper on the back
  • Offers 32/64GB storage, expandable up to 1TB with microSD

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)

While you can get a few ‘high-end’ mobile games on the Amazon Fire HD 10, it’s not exactly a gaming powerhouse, and you shouldn’t buy it if you’re looking for such a device.

Amazon has put the Mediatek MT8186A chipset in the slate, a low-end system-on-a-chip that it’s been using versions of in tablets for years now (I tested the Fire HD 8 (2020) years ago and it had basically the same chip). It’s paired with 3GB RAM.

The slate doesn’t feel particularly fast, either to navigate or when booting up or using apps. It doesn’t necessarily feel as sluggish as some of Amazon’s older slates, but the tablet works best for tasks that don’t need much processor power like reading books on the Kindle app or watching TV shows.

At least you can load up lots of data onto the tablet. While its basic configuration comes with either 32GB or 64GB memory, depending on what you pay for, you can use a microSD card to expand the storage up to 1TB. Just as a word of money-saving advice: 1TB microSD cards generally cost three-figure prices, and 500GB ones aren’t much cheaper, so if you only think you’ll need 64GB space it’s a lot cheaper to just buy the tablet with more storage rather than rely on microSD cards. 

One of the headline upgrades the Fire HD 10 (2023) over its chip is an upgraded front camera resolution, from 2MP to 5MP on the new slate. That means that selfies you take will be a little higher-quality, and depending on your network connection, you might appear a little higher-res on video calls too. 

On the back, the same 5MP camera remains. For both of these snappers, they’re fine for basic like scanning documents, taking picture of notes to remember them and so on, but you’re not exactly getting DSLR-rivalling photography chops.

In terms of audio, you’ve got a few options. The slate supports Bluetooth 5.3 LE, the low-energy equivalent of the current top standard of Bluetooth connection, and so it’ll work well with wireless headphones and speakers. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can stick to wired audio if you prefer.

  • Performance score: 2.5/5

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: battery life

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) on a colored background.

(Image credit: Future)
  • 13-hour battery life
  • Lasting power varies by task
  • USB-C charging takes four hours

The estimate Amazon gives for the Fire HD 10 is “up to 13 hours”, and in our testing we’d say that this rough guess is okay, but there’s a lot of nuance. That’s because the battery life varies a lot by what you’re doing.

If you’re playing a video game or streaming lots of TV, you won’t hit that 13 hour mark – I’d guess you’d probably get at least 10 hours, and maybe more, but those processes are more intensive than some others. However, if you’re just browsing your emails or reading a Kindle book, I’d say that you could possibly exceed that 13-hour mark.

In our Future Labs rundown test, the Fire HD 10 managed 12 hours and 39 minutes before giving up the ghost, which generally tracks with my real-world use of the tablets. 

Either way, that’s a pretty decent battery life that squeaks past the average staying power of an entry-level iPad.

Charging is done using a USB-C cable (the industry standard that you likely use for your smartphone, headphones, laptop etc.). It takes up to 4 hours to power the device fully.

  • Battery score: 3.5/5

Should you buy the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023)?

Buy it if...

You need something portable
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is lightweight and slender, making it great for on-the-go entertainment, with its battery life and software focus only helping.

You're buying for a child
There's lots of entertainment for a kid to like on the Fire HD 10, with special kids apps and services plus a suitably kid-proof design. While Amazon does sell tabs designed for youngsters, they cost more and are actually just its regular slates with protective cases.

You're already an Amazon user
Whether you're a Prime customer who makes the most of Prime Video, Amazon Music, Kindle Reads and more, or someone with an Alexa-enabled home set-up, the Fire HD 10 will let you make the most of these.

Don't buy it if...

You're looking for a business or creative device
Many people buy tablets for work, or for creative endeavors like sketching or editing. Amazon's tablets are best for entertainment fans, though, and you'd best be looking elsewhere if you want more than that.

You don't need a big display
The main difference between Amazon's tablets is the screen size. If you don't think you need a full 10.1 inches (say, if you can just hold the device a little closer to your eyes so it looks bigger), you can save a fair bit of cash by buying the Fire 7 or Fire HD 8.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) review: Also consider

If you just need a new tablet and aren't selective about which, here are some rivals you might want to consider:

How I tested the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023)

  • Review test period = 2 week
  • Testing included = streaming movies and TV, checking emails, listening to music, reading Kindle books, playing games

Amazon's limited ecosystem means that not many benchmarking or testing apps can be installed onto the tablet, but I've used many devices from the company before so know what to look for in them.

The review period for this tablet was two weeks, though I continued to use the device as I wrote the review itself. While I like to try writing tablet reviews on the tablet itself, that can be more hassle than it's worth on Fire slates.

Instead I used the device as you're supposed to: I watched movies and TV shows on Prime Video, Freevee, Disney Plus and Plex, I made further attempts to whittle down my Kindle library, I played some of the games that the device suggests, and I streamed music using wired and wireless options. 

I've been testing tech for TechRadar for just about five years now, so I've got a lot of experience reviewing things like slates, smartphones and ereaders to work out whether they're worth buying. As mentioned I've used lots of Amazon's tablets as well as competing devices, so know the market well.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed January 2024

Soundfun Mirai soundbar review: a diminutive dialogue booster
10:55 pm | February 14, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: | Comments: Off

Soundfun Mirai soundbar: Two-minute review

Soundfun Mirai soundbar on rug shown from top

The Soundfun Mirai's 'wavy' front grille (Image credit: Future)

The Soundfun Mirai may seem like another soundbar that’s cluttering the home theater market. But, this soundbar has a very specific use case, which is making movie and TV dialogue easier to hear.

For those who want Dolby Atmos, virtual (or real) surround sound, and a bunch of ports, this is not going to be the right option. But, for those who don’t care about all that and want something that makes even the dialogue in Christopher Nolan movies audible without having to turn everything else up, this is going to be one of the best soundbars on the market.

Of course, it’s very stripped down and still a bit pricey for a soundbar with such a limited appeal.

Taking a closer look at the Soundfun Mirai’s aesthetics, it’s about as fun-looking as a soundbar can get with its wavy front grill. Its one control, aside from power, comes courtesy of a big dial centered between the wavy portions of the grille. Next to the dial is a display showing the volume level.

As this soundbar sports just two speakers, powered by dual 15-watt amplifiers, it doesn’t take up much space. In fact, it measures just 21.3 x 3.4 x 6.2 inches (541 x 86.4 x 157.5 mm). Since space saving has always been a selling point for soundbars (along with a simpler setup), the Soundfun Mirai’s diminutive stature is surely a plus, especially if you’re not working with a lot of space.

Overall, it’s very straightforward. Even the remote it comes with has just three buttons: power, volume up, and volume down. It’s as basic a soundbar as I’ve seen (Mirai calls it a ‘TV Speaker’). The ports are as stripped down as there’s just an optical and aux port. Soundfun does include both cables so you don’t need to invest any further if you don’t have optical or Aux.

Soundfun Mirai soundbar on rug shown from above with accessories

Accessories include an optical digital cable for an audio connection to a TV (Image credit: Future)

The bright side to the Soundfun Mirai’s minimalist design is that setup is very, very easy. Just plug in the power and connect the optical or aux cable to the TV and you’re basically done. Just be aware that if you use the optical port, you need to change the sound settings on your TV so you don’t end up with a duplicate signal from the TV’s built-in speakers. Of course, this is always the case with optical. However, you don’t have to deal with this on TVs that have an HDMI port, which the Soundfun Mirai does not have.

While the Soundfun Mirai is fairly petite, it has quite a bit of power thanks to those dual 15-watt amplifiers. Since it is on the smaller side however, you’re not going to get thunderous bass out of it. In fact, with a rated frequency response of 150Hz - 20kHz, plenty of bass is pretty clearly missing. Most audio devices strive to get as close to a 20Hz to 20kHz range for comparison’s sake.

However, this soundbar was not created for home theater. It’s meant for those who want to hear dialogue better when watching TV. For that intended purpose, the Soundfun Mirai does quite well.

When I tested the Soundfun Mirai with my TV, the mid-range frequencies where vocals sit was boosted and, obviously, the low-end was not that prominent. The high-end was a bit pulled back as well. In terms of soundstage width, you’re not getting anything special here. However, with all that in mind plus the fact that there aren’t any special features like Dolby Atmos or Bluetooth wireless streaming, it’s clear that none of that matters to Soundfun.

If you find yourself having trouble hearing dialogue when watching TV, then this might be a good addition for you, especially in a bedroom setting where you don’t care about having a home theater system, but just want to clearly hear what the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City have to say.

Soundfun Mirai soundbar on rug closeup of volume dial

A front panel display indicates volume level and there's a volume knob next to it for easy adjustments (Image credit: Future)

Soundfun Mirai soundbar: Price and release date

  • Price: $299
  • Released November 2023

Considering that the Soundfun Mirai soundbar is about as basic as it gets, with really just one specific goal, its $299 price tag is a bit hard to swallow. After all, other soundbars have dialog modes that boost the frequencies at which voices sit. So, while there’s a bit more emphasis there with the Soundfun Mirai, it’s still a high price for something without even an HDMI passthrough.

For instance, the Roku Streambar costs just $149.99 (around £140 / £115 or AU$250 / AU$200) and comes with a full Roku streamer, and HDMI port with ARC support, and even multiple EQ settings including a dialogue-boosting mode.

That said, the Soundfun Mirai was created for a specific group of people, those that have a hard time hearing dialogue generally when watching TV, and this soundbar fulfills that mission and also keeps things simple.

The Soundfun Mirai is currently only available in the US.

Soundfun Mirai soundbar closeup of rear ports

Both optical digital and analog audio inputs are provided, but no HDMI (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Soundfun Mirai soundbar?

Buy it if...

You want to hear dialogue better
The Soundfun Mirai has one reason for being and that’s to make dialogue more audible without having to blast the TV. When it comes to that intended purpose, the Mirai does it very well. 

You want easy
The Mirai is about as easy as it gets, for better or worse. If you don’t want to worry about a complicated setup, then this is your soundbar.

You want something small
At less than two feet wide, this soundbar is perfect for setups where there isn’t a lot of space. 

Don't buy it if...

You want home theater audio
Soundbars have increasingly become a home theater option with surround sound, subwoofers, and more, but the Soundfun Mirai is not one of those.

You’re on a budget
Although $299 isn’t going to break the bank, it’s still not cheap. If you’re on a budget, you can find soundbars for less that will also improve the audio quality of your TV.

Soundfun Mirai soundbar review: Also consider

Soundfun Mirai soundbar on table with TV and remote

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Soundfun Mirai soundbar

  • I used the Soundfun Mirai soundbar for one week
  • Tested with both TV, movies, and music

I used the Soundfun Mirai soundbar regularly for a week with TV, movies, and music. I compared it to just my TV’s speakers to see what kind of improvement it offers and found that it, as I’ve stated in the review, is good at what it’s meant for. It just happens to also be a bit of a one-trick pony.

If you’re hard of hearing or just want something to make dialogue pop a little while watching TV in your bedroom, this is a good if somewhat pricey option to invest in.

I’ve tested a lot of tech gear over the years from laptops to keyboards and speakers, and so have been able to use my expertise towards giving an honest and fair opinion, not to mention a critical eye, to any product I test.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Apple releases Music, TV, and Devices apps on Windows
9:32 pm | February 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Apple has released the final versions of Music, TV, and Devices on the Windows platform. These apps are now available to download on x86 devices running Windows 10 and 11. Apple Music Apple had previously released Music, TV, and Devices on Windows in a 'Preview' state. These apps were also available only on Windows 11, and not on 10. With the release of this latest release, the apps are out of their preview state and available on both operating system versions. Apple TV Music, TV, and Devices are the eventual replacement of iTunes, which continues to exist. While Apple...

Sonus faber Duetto Review: incredible sound, spotty performance
6:00 pm | January 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Speakers | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

SONUS FABER DUETTO: ONE-MINUTE REVIEW

The best wireless speakers can be the audiophile’s soundbar, wrapping all the inputs, amplification, and streaming tech you need into a standalone, high-performance audio solution. Sonus faber’s dashingly elegant Duetto speakers check off those boxes in style, offering brilliantly clear and robust sound quality alongside convenient wireless streaming and plenty of ways to connect.

The design is cutting-edge, right down to the wireless connection between the speakers, but as is surprisingly common with audiophile brands, the execution isn’t always as intuitive or reliable as you’d expect from a luxury product. Over the course of my Duetto review, I experienced multiple tech issues, from setup hiccups to spotty HDMI ARC communication. The speakers add to those issues with some awkward design quirks and control options.

The Duetto easily rank among the most transparent, dynamic, and just plain stylish powered bookshelf speakers I’ve evaluated. If you’re willing to gamble on their tech, which may improve over time with software updates, they could be worth considering for those seeking an all-in-one best stereo speakers option that’s as beautiful as it is sonically striking. Otherwise, there are more stalwart options out there. 

sonus faber duetto closeup on stand

(Image credit: Future)

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: Price & release date

  • Released October 2023
  • Priced at $3,999 / £3,490

The Sonus faber Duetto speakers were released in October 2023 and are available in over 50 countries worldwide through authorized dealers. At the time of this review, the U.S. price for the Sonus faber Duetto was $3,999. 

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: Specs

sonus faber duetto bottom ports

Hardwired connection options include HDMI eARC, optical digital, and MM phono inputs (Image credit: Future)

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: Features

  • Powered wireless speakers connected over UWB
  • Phono, optical, and HDMI ARC/eARC inputs
  • Webpage for control; setup via AirPlay, Google Home, or Ethernet

Among their many intriguing features, maybe the most unique is how these high-resolution wireless speakers connect to one another. 

Like most powered/active speakers, the Duetto pair comprises a primary speaker that houses onboard controls and inputs and a secondary speaker that receives audio from its partner. Unlike other such wireless systems, the two speakers aren’t connected via a data cable or Wi-Fi, relying instead on a relatively new wireless protocol called UWB (Ultra wideband). UWB uses radio waves for some distinct advantages over alternatives, including much lower latency than Bluetooth LE and virtually zero signal interference when compared to Wi-Fi frequencies.

Each of the Duetto speakers is internally powered by potent custom amplifiers, including a 100 watt Class A/B amplifier for each tweeter and a Class-D amplifier claimed to produce a whopping 250 watts for each 5.25-inch woofer. You can choose which speaker is the left or right, depending on the room layout. The two-way speakers utilize internal DSP (digital signal processing) with a crossover set at 1.9 kHz. Their total frequency response is a claimed 37Hz-30kHz, and they reach deep into that low end with authority.

On the primary speaker’s supple leather topside, you’ll find lighted “Senso” touch keys that let you tap your way through playback, volume, and input control. It’s a slick design, but it takes a while to master the functions without the familiar playback symbols you’ll find on most wireless speakers. You’ll also need to memorize the different colors flashing across the speaker’s front LED display bar (seven in all) for each input – the price you pay for style.

Style also takes precedence for the Duetto’s physical input hub. Inputs include Ethernet, RCA line-in (with an available built-in phono pre for a turntable), optical digital, subwoofer out, and HDMI ARC/eARC, all stuffed into a small cubby beneath the primary speaker. This allows for clean lines across the speaker’s elegantly industrial backside., but it can be confounding for usability, requiring an awkward balancing act anytime you need to swap cables or access the Duetto’s reset or speaker pairing keys. Simply moving those keys to the back would be helpful.

Awkward is the operative word for my Duetto setup experience, starting with pairing the speakers together once you’ve powered them on. This requires digging through your tangle of wires under the main speaker’s base, finding the tiny pairing button next to the equally tiny reset button and holding it for five seconds, then dashing to the other speaker to do the same within 30 seconds. The first time I must have failed to hold the button long enough, forcing a retry.

Next, since Sonus faber (oddly) doesn’t include a dedicated app for setup or control, you’ll need to use either AirPlay setup or the Google Home app to connect to Wi-Fi. My first review sample, a previously used model, refused to connect to my network multiple times. Once I finally did get the speakers to play, they sputtered offline again and eventually got stuck in a power-cycle feedback loop as I tried to reset them.

A second review pair connected without incident via AirPlay, but I did experience some hiccups in which the speakers stopped responding to Spotify, forcing me to reset them or reconnect. On another occasion, the left speaker suddenly stopped playing, forcing another power down. Most notably, after testing them over a few weeks, the Duetto started having HDMI ARC connection issues. It seems to be a CEC communication problem, where the speakers don’t always power on and/or connect when I turn on the TV, sometimes forcing me to connect manually or, again, power cycle them. While I can usually get them working, the issue was persistent through multiple HDMI cables, multiple TV settings, and even multiple TVs.

The Duetto’s reliance on a webpage for online controls is also less convenient than speakers with a dedicated app. The webpage provides some useful features like the ability to configure HDMI switching, adapt the bass for near-wall setup and turn it down in quiet moments via the “Loudness Maximiser.” But it’s missing options like a multi-band EQ or inputs selection. You’ll need to bookmark it in your browser or rely on the physical manual’s QR code for access. A real app appears to be coming, which would be a big help for usability if and when it arrives.

  • Features score: 3/5

Sonus faber duetto speakers on stands in living room

Screenshots of the BluOS app used to control streaming and speaker setup (Image credit: Future)

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: Sound quality

  • Sensitive, transparent, and dynamic sound
  • Dimensional and precise soundstage
  • Powerful and clear bass response

Listening to the Duetto is not a passive experience, it’s an event. Their nuanced sound signature is as sensitive as it is powerful, diving deep into the core of each instrument, vocal, or effect and raising it to the surface to be exposed in the light of day. Poorer mixes and low-resolution tracks have nowhere to hide from these sonic magnifiers. Yet their smooth and sweet sound signature is remarkably forgiving, with a warm and present midrange, fluid and vividly responsive treble that’s forward but never sharp, and shockingly thunderous bass.

You’ll have no trouble enjoying compressed audio over Spotify Connect, even finding yourself distracted from other tasks by the Duetto’s knack for detail and definition. But you’ll spark more joy by using a source more worthy of their pedigree – this is a pair of $4,000 speakers after all. 

I started my evaluation in earnest pairing the Duetto with a new Technics SL1500-C turntable and a reprint of Dave Bruebeck’s classic album “Take Five” fresh out of the wrapper. And what a listen it was. I’ve heard some very good speakers in my day, and I was still taken off guard by just how fabulously the Duetto reproduced this iconic album. You know you’re onto something when your notes include phrases like “a joyous celebration of life and art.”

There’s not an instrument these speakers don’t know how to elevate. The breathy buzz of the sax in “Strange Meadow Lark” was so close I could almost feel it against my neck. The papery texture of the drums in the titular track revealed each of Joe Morello’s minute wrist adjustments in mellow-gold microtones. Even the warm gunk in the diaphragms of those ‘50s microphones seemed to glow through the tweeters as bass strings rattled and Brubeck’s creamy piano spun up and down the right side. The voluminous soundstage rises to near three-dimensionality in such moments, with instruments seeming to reach out and curve around your face.

The soundstage was similarly enveloping with TV and movies, even when dialing up seemingly basic fare like a rewatch of “Christmas Vacation” over the holidays. The Duetto built a cavern of spacious sound here, and was especially adept at reconstructing minute details like a TV in another room. The guttural roar of Eddie’s RV as he fired it up to kidnap Clark’s boss had me looking outside, while the rocket-like bombast of Santa’s plastic reindeer as they’re launched into orbit at the movie’s conclusion seemed to rumble the whole front of the room. The sound was so expansive it felt like a Dolby Atmos mix, all from a compressed stream over stereo speakers.

As I listened on, I was constantly surprised by the Duetto’s transparency, from whistling high-frequency synthesizers to the painstaking reconstruction of every mix or soundstage as if laid out before me. Still, the Duetto’s oak-like bass response is their most striking sonic trait. As noted, they’re rated down to 37Hz, and I’ll be damned if they don’t get close. Adding a sub will clear up some room in the upper register and provide more control, but it’s otherwise unnecessary given the Duetto’s powerful punch. Bass is almost too powerful in some tracks, even after being tamed in the settings, which was why I sometimes wished for better EQ.

EQ or not, I won’t raise any official complaints about the Duetto’s sound. If it weren’t for the technical mishaps I encountered, I’d likely be considering throwing down the cash to grab them myself. They offer among the most impressive sonic performances I’ve ever heard in a pair of bookshelves. Even as I write this review, I’m finding new ways to be impressed, engaged, and elated by their skills.

  • Sound quality score: 5/5

sonus faber duetto top surface

The lighted “Senso” touch keys on the speaker's leather-wrapped top surface that let you tap your way through playback, volume, and input control (Image credit: Future)

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: Design

  • Relatively compact, fully wireless bookshelf design
  • Dashingly elegant, minimalist aesthetic in black or walnut
  • Inconvenient inputs and control layout

At just over 13 inches tall and 11 inches deep, the Duetto are easy to place on most speaker stands and longer consoles. Sonus faber also offers custom Duetto stands at a lofty $749. The speakers are unflinchingly gorgeous and well-built, from their perfectly matched, lute-shaped cabinets to their leather tops and hefty metal heat sinks. They’re among the only speakers I’ve seen that look as good with their acoustic screens on as off. The lack of any visible physical connections along or between the two speakers makes for a squeaky-clean aesthetic.

As noted above, it also makes basic things like swapping in a new device or re-pairing the speakers in the event of a reset or connection issue inconvenient, with everything confined beneath the primary speaker. Even the slick remote feels overengineered, requiring a lockpick’s touch to open the battery slot via a tiny hole at the back.

At least some of these decisions feel like form over function. It all works fine if you only need to set the speakers up once and don’t plan on adding any new gear later, but it makes everything more of a hassle when something changes or goes wrong.

  • Design score: 3/5

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: Value

  • Audiophile sound performance with a price to match
  • Loads of inputs and connection options
  • Reliability and convenience take a backseat to aesthetics

The Sonus faber Duetto are among the priciest wireless bookshelf speakers I’ve encountered, with the sound to back it up. Their design is as stunning as it is unassuming, matching elegance with minimalism to striking effect. The inclusion of multiple inputs, including a built-in pre-amp for vinyl playback and HDMI ARC/eARC makes them a versatile and comprehensive sound solution.

However, you can find similar models, including hi-fi options like KEF’s LS50 Wireless II, for thousands less. In my experience, KEF’s design and tech are also more reliable and intuitive. The Duetto’s sound performance sets them apart nearly as distinctly as their price point, but their reliability issues and sometimes awkward design elements keep them from being as attractive as more affordable competitors.

  • Value score: 2.5/5

sonus faber duetto in living room with TV

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the SONUS FABER DUETTO?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: Also consider

sonus faber duetto in living room with TV

(Image credit: Future)

SONUS FABER DUETTO REVIEW: How I tested

  • Tested with both compressed lossy and hi-res lossless streaming services, including Spotify Connect and Amazon Music
  • Tested with high-resolution analog and TV sound sources across a wide range of content, from jazz and hip-hop to sitcoms, dramas, and action films
  • Tested two pairs over several weeks with dozens of hours of listening time

I used the Sonus faber Duetto as my primary sound source over multiple weeks of testing and across a wide variety of source material, from compressed audio tracks over Wi-Fi to high-quality vinyl albums and a wide array of TV shows and films. Source devices included Technics SL1500-C direct drive turntable and Ortofon Red cartridge, as well as multiple TV models from TCL, Samsung, and LG.

I compared the speakers to several alternatives, including my reference KEF LSX wireless speakers, and traditional wired speakers from Focal, Bowers & Wilkins, and others connected to a Naim Uniti network amplifier.

You can read TechRadar's review guarantee here.

  • First reviewed: January 2024
Samsung HW-Q700C review: a great cheaper Dolby Atmos soundbar beaten only by Samsung itself
12:30 am | January 16, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung HW-Q700C: Two-minute review

In a bid to become one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars to have graced our testing process, the Samsung HW-Q700C presents itself as a similar TV-boosting soundbar solution as the HW-Q800C. Essentially, it too is a mid-tier offering capable of pumping out Dolby Atmos from a single bar and subwoofer combination. Like its slightly bigger brother, there are no rear speakers, nor do you get the truly insane levels of power exhibited by the top-of-the-range HW-Q990C. Differentiating it from the 800C, the Q700C on test here adopts a 3.1.2-channel output – compared to the 5.1.2 layout of the 800 – making it a good option for those wanting to boost the sound coming from their TV in a smaller-sized room. And, as with all Samsung soundbars, you can take advantage of extra features if you own a compatible Samsung TV such as Q Symphony, which is explained in greater detail further down. 

At $549.99 / £599 / AU$899 – although you can regularly find it for less in all territories – it’s what could be deemed affordable, and while some may wish they had the extra couple of channels found on the 800C, the 700C delivers a loud, dynamic and impressive performance – particularly where vocals are concerned. If you want those extra channels and a more authentic Dolby Atmos surround sound experience at a later date, you could wirelessly connect the SWA-9500S speakers for $299 / £249 / AU$349.

The Samsung HW-Q700C supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X by way of two up-firing drivers to deliver the all-important height effects, and it will happily double up as a music system, accepting a range of music files including high-resolution FLAC. In practice, it is a formidable bit of kit, and certainly passes the test when it comes to the task of boosting your TV’s sound and bringing a cinema-like experience into your main room. Bass levels are insanely good considering the size of the 'bar and sub, Dolby Atmos height effects are convincing – as much as they can be given the speaker configuration – and as already alluded to, vocals  are crystal clear. 

However, considering you don’t need to spend a lot more money to pick up the HW-Q800C, it does beg the question who would take the 700 instead. This review intends to answer that one for you. 

Samsung HW-Q700C Review: Price & Availaibility

  • $549.99 / £599 / AU$899
  • Released April 2023

The Samsung HW-Q700C received a global launch in April 2023. In the UK and Australia, it appears to have maintained its original launch price of £599 and AU$899, whereas in the US, it’s undergone a price cut from $699.99, down to $549.99, at the time of writing. 

However, this is only the MSRP, and you’ll likely find it’s been discounted a fair amount at many third-party retailers, making it seemingly better value for money. But you’re also going to find the slightly more powerful Q800C has been discounted too, and so if you can afford the extra spend, that would ultimately be our recommendation. 

This is because the Q800C gives you a couple of extra speaker drivers for a bigger, wider sound. An alternative would be to use the money saved by buying the Q700C and spending it on the optional rear speakers for a more authentic 5.1.2 surround sound setup. 

Samsung HW-Q700C Review: Specs

Samsung HW-Q700C Review: Features

  • 3.1.2 channels
  • 4K HDR HDMI passthrough
  • Exclusive features for Samsung TV owners

The Samsung HW-Q700C’s 3.1.2 channel arrangement comprises a center, two wide-range tweeters, two dedicated upward firing drivers and a wireless 6.5-inch subwoofer, delivering a total power output of 320 watts. This is another area where the Q700C differs from its higher-specced siblings. The Q800C and Q990C are paired with an 8-inch subwoofer, which is capable of making your room shake even more with low frequencies. A larger sub is going to be useful in larger rooms and consequently, could be overkill if your living room, bedroom, media room, whatever it may be, is on the smaller side. The 6.5-inch sub included with the 700C is still plenty capable, it must be said, and in my time using it I didn’t feel short changed.

If you’re in ownership of a compatible Samsung TV, you can effectively increase the channel count by way of integrating the TV’s speakers into the equation via Q Symphony. The aim is to create a bigger, more detailed soundstage, since you’ll be using all available speakers. If you are able to connect to a compatible Samsung TV – 2021 - 2023 QLED Q70 TVs and above – then you can take advantage of SpaceFit Sound room calibration. This uses the microphone in the TV to automatically calibrate the sound without any user intervention. SpaceFit Sound Pro, which doesn't require a Samsung TV to be connected, is available on the Q800C soundbar and the flagship Q990C.

The vast majority of audio formats are supported, including the aforementioned Dolby Atmos, alongside DTS:X, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby True HD. As for music, there’s across the board support for AAC, WAV, FLAC, MP3 and ALAC. Put simply, the Samsung HW-Q700C will be able to playback virtually anything you wish to throw at it. 

Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar sitting beneath an LG G3 OLED TV showing Barry Can't Swim music stream via Apple Music

(Image credit: Future)

And since there’s Wi-Fi onboard, you can also play music via Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2 and Tidal Connect. Amazon Alexa is also supported, although it’s not completely built in. You’ll need a separate Alexa device, such as an Echo, through which you can bark commands, such as asking the soundbar to skip a music track or adjust the volume.

Further proving the fact that it’s the physical features that separate the Q700C from other Q-series soundbars, Samsung has given its mid-range soundbar its full suite of audio technologies. These include Adaptive Sound 2.0, which claims to intelligently analyze the content you’re watching, whether it be sports, a movie or the news, and adjust the audio output accordingly.

There’s a separate audio mode for gamers, in the form of Game Made Pro, which aims to more accurately place various sounds, such as another player coming from behind you. Do note that the Samsung HW-Q700C doesn’t support 4K 120Hz pass through. It will support 4K pass through, but if you want to make the absolute most of your next-gen console, you’ll need to plug the console directly into your TV and send audio to the soundbar via eARC.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Samsung HW-Q700C Review: Audio Performance

  • Surprisingly deep bass from the wireless subwoofer
  • Vocal clarity a particular highlight
  • Impressive, if not totally authentic, Dolby Atmos effect

The Samsung HW-Q700C took the place of the more powerful and much more expensive JBL Bar 1300 in my living room. The JBL does have genuine rear speakers, therefore capable of delivering a more authentic Dolby Atmos experience, so I was keen to hear how Samsung’s single-bar solution would fare. Truth be told, I was impressed. 

To get things started, I fired up a stream of Lightyear on Disney Plus, and the opening scene alone proved the HW-Q700C could deliver power that belies its size. Buzz’s rocket ship blasted through space with ferocity, and the subwoofer provided plenty of low end rumble to highlight just how powerful the ship’s jet propulsion was. So much low end rumble in fact, that I felt compelled to turn the volume down a few notches, not just so as to not annoy my housemate, but the neighbors in the units above and below me. 

Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar sitting beneath an LG G3 OLED TV, playing Avengers Endgame

(Image credit: Future)

The bar itself also impressed. What was immediately apparent – positively for Samsung and negatively for JBL – was how much clearer dialogue was. No matter the movie or TV show, I never once felt the need to make a beeline for the subtitles menu, as voices came through with impressive clarity. I toggled the voice enhance feature on and off too, to hear if it made dialogue any clearer and sure enough, it did. I did find the rest of the audio presentation took a slight backseat when this feature was turned on however, so for the most part I had it turned off.

As for Dolby Atmos effects, it’s a mixed bag. Yes, the Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar did indeed fill my room with sound that evidently had greater height, and during Avengers: Endgame in the main, epic battle at the end, sounds of various spaceships and otherworldly beasts flying in from the sides of the screen did sound as they had come from my side or behind me. But when compared to a soundbar with dedicated rear speakers, or a fully-fledged home cinema speaker system, there is a noticeable difference.

But, this should pretty much be expected. The HW-Q700C doesn’t have physical rear speakers and so placing the responsibility of enveloping a room with sound on the 2 upward firing drivers is going to be a big ask. I would say there is a slight sensation of a half-dome of sound, because you’re definitely getting a larger soundfield than you’d get from a front-firing-only soundbar, but not quite a full dome over your head.

Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar end section showing Samsung logo

(Image credit: Future)

This is realistically only a minor setback as on the whole, I was seriously impressed with the audio performance of the Q700C. It had no issues filling the room with sound, and I had the volume relatively low during the entirety of the review period. I did turn things up on a couple of occasions to see what it was truly capable of, and once again I was taken aback by the sheer power of the unassuming bar and sub package.

Musically, it’s a good performer too, although I found it wasn’t without its issues. First and foremost, I wasn’t able to stream music from my iPhone or Macbook via Apple AirPlay. AirPlay recognised the soundbar as a device, it just wasn’t able to connect. I removed the Q700C from the SmartThings app (and subsequently my wi-fi network) and added it back in to try and remedy the problem, but to no avail.

So, to play music, I streamed tracks from Apple Music via a connected Apple TV. I first loaded up the rather funky, foot-tapping first album from Barry Can’t Swim, which streams in Dolby Atmos. The same effortless room-filling sound experienced with movies carries over here, and also allows the Q700C to prove its rhythmic prowess. I also noticed the soundbar and sub integrated well with each other, ensuring cohesive playback that never once sounded muddled.

Step down to ‘regular’ music playback for songs not available in Dolby Atmos or Spatial Audio and naturally, that height is removed. The Q700C still handles music well mind you, and I’d say it’s pretty much on par with its Q800C sibling when you activate Adaptive Sound Mode. This essentially remixes stereo into multi-channel, and the effect in this instance is as it is with the Q800C. That being, songs are given extra room without sacrificing too much in the way of detail.

Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar

(Image credit: Future)
  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Samsung HW-Q700C Review: Design

  • Gray plastic finish looks more premium than it feels
  • Subwoofer isn't the most attractive thing ever
  • Unobtrusive size will suit most TVs

The Samsung HW-Q700C follows a very similar design language to Samsung’s other Q-series soundbars. Namely, a main bar with angled edges, a gray metallic plastic finish complete with front grille and unobtrusive dimensions that make it easy to nestle in front of and underneath a TV. It’s the same width and depth as the Q800C, yet ever so slightly shorter in height, which only adds to its unobtrusive nature. 

Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar top panel

(Image credit: Future)

It’s the perfect width for TVs 55-inches in size and greater – I was testing with it placed beneath a 65-inch LG OLED G3 – and since the top panel is covered by a perforated grille, you needn’t worry about any reflections from the screen above it, which is a good thing. There’s also a small LCD display on the right side of the bar (when you’re looking at it) that will display the source – eARC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc – and it will flash up when it’s playing a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which provides peace of mind for the user.

On the underside of the soundbar are two recessed areas. One is solely for the power cable, while the other is where you’ll plug your HDMI cables and/or digital optical cable. One thing I have noticed is that this layout is best suited to Samsung’s own TVs, as the main bulk of connections can be found on the left of a Samsung TV (when viewed from the back) and so connecting an HDMI cable from this side of the screen to the left side of the soundbar (also when viewed from the rear) will be simple. On my LG TV, however, the HDMI inputs are on the opposite side, meaning I had to really stretch the cables as far as they’d go.

This may not be a huge deal breaker for many, but is something you might not initially consider when buying a soundbar.

The subwoofer I’m less enthusiastic about. It’s rather dinky and so won’t exactly be an eyesore in your room, but I’m not all that keen on the cloth cover on the front. In comparison to the main bar, I feel it makes it look dated. I would’ve been able to tolerate the cloth grille if it were removable, but alas, no such luck.

Samsung HW-Q700C subwoofer

(Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 4/5

Samsung HW-Q700C Review: Setup & Usability

  • Controlled via app or remote
  • A few issues streaming via AirPlay

I definitely expected the setup of the Samsung HW-Q700C to go off without a hitch, but I did run into a few teething problems. Firstly, the aforementioned issue of input placement meant I had to move a few things around – as a sidenote, my usual JBL Bar 1300 has its inputs in the center of the bar, which I find to be far more logical. 

I also, naively, didn’t realise there was just a single HDMI input alongside the HDMI eARC port. So, again, I had to then plug devices into my TV to have the audio sent back down to the soundbar. Once this was all done, I expected them all to work harmoniously, in the sense of, when I turned my Apple TV on, the TV and soundbar should have come on at the same time. Only this didn’t happen… initially at least. I came home one day, about a week after having it all plugged in, to find that this was all now working as it should, without any intervention from myself. Perhaps my housemate is a secret technological guru. 

Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar sitting beneath LG G3 OLED TV

(Image credit: Future)

I was also directed to Samsung’s SmartThings app, which mimics the soundbar’s remote control – and is also where you can group other SmartThings compatible devices you may have in your home. The initial setup of this was relatively plain sailing. It detected the Q700C was in my room, and I was able to enter my Wi-Fi password and get it on my network in next to no time.

But a few days later I went to open the app to adjust some settings, and it either kept showing me the spinning loading icon while it tried to establish a connection with the soundbar again, or it didn’t connect at all. The app would tell me the soundbar was off, when I was literally sitting in front of it and it was playing a movie.

I occasionally encountered similar issues with my JBL soundbar, in that it would regularly lose its network connection, before reconnecting again automatically. During any downtime, I’m unable to use that bar’s companion app to make any changes, either. I’m willing to accept that I just have bad luck.

But more recently when I’ve used the Q700C, I’ve had no issues at all. I did find adjusting the volume using my Apple TV remote did suffer from slight input lag, but using the included Samsung remote worked perfectly.

Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar

(Image credit: Future)
  • Setup & usability score: 4/5

Samsung HW-Q700C Review: Value

  • The punchier Q800C doesn't cost much more
  • Optional rear speakers could be beneficial, but cost extra

The Samsung HW-Q700C is an interesting proposition. On the one hand it’s a relatively inexpensive soundbar (it’s available for much less than its MSRP in most territories) that certainly ticks the box of “boost TV sound”. But the ever-so-slightly better-specced 800C, which we deemed to be the best mid-range soundbar released in 2023, is hanging over it like a fantastic-sounding bad smell. And you don’t need to spend an awful lot more money at some retailers to take ownership of the more powerful sibling. 

So, which should you get? 

In my opinion, if you only have space for a single soundbar and subwoofer combo – and can stretch your budget – I would opt for the Samsung HW-Q800C for its extra couple of drivers. But if your room layout allows for it, I would argue the HW-Q700C plus the optional rear surround speaker units would create a far more convincing Dolby Atmos soundfield in your room. 

If your budget is constrained, however, but still want to make it go as far as possible, then the Samsung HW-Q700C as a standalone unit is still an utter joy to listen to. 

  • Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Samsung HW-Q700C?

Buy it if...

You want an affordable route to great home cinema

The Q700C delivers a performance that belies its size and spec sheet, and it doesn't cost a whole lotta money.

Don't buy it if...

Samsung HW-Q700C review: Also consider

How I tested the Samsung HW-Q700C

  • Tested over two weeks
  • Tested with movie and TV content streamed from Apple TV and built-in TV apps
  • Music streamed via Bluetooth and from Apple TV

The Samsung HW-Q700C soundbar sat beneath a 65-inch LG G3 OLED TV on an entertainment unit, which is placed along a wall in a central position, as opposed to being in a corner. This allows the wide-angle tweeters to have space to deliver their sound. I left the subwoofer placed alongside the same wall, to the right of the soundbar when viewed from the front. I wasn't able to test the Q700C with the optional rear speakers. 

The majority of Dolby Atmos and 5.1 content came from movies and TV shows streamed on Netflix and Disney Plus via an Apple TV 4K. In particular Lightyear, Avengers: End Game and Money Heist.

For music playback, I mainly streamed tracks from Apple Music via the same Apple TV 4K. I also streamed some songs via Bluetooth from my iPhone 13 Pro. 

LG 32LQ6300 review: a small, reliable TV that packs great performance
3:49 pm | December 14, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

The 32-inch LG LQ6300 is the company’s ’s only TV in that screen size from its 2022 lineup. It comes with a standard LED panel with a Full HD (1080p) resolution and sits in the mid-range of the 32-inch TV market, with pricing around $249 / £249 upon release. 

LG TVs are amongst the best TVs on the market owing to their features and competitive pricing. The LG 32LQ6300 is no exception in this regard, featuring LG’s  Alpha 5 Gen5 AI processor, web OS smart TV platform and Game Optimizer menu for a better gaming experience.

Picture quality of the LG 32LQ6300 is impressive given it uses a standard LED panel. Viewing a couple of scenes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in Movie mode, to test HDR images (even though it’s a 1080p TV, the LQ6300 supports HDR10 high dynamic range), colors were punchy and the picture was well-defined and detailed, with the reds within the throne room scene looking true-to-life without being overwhelming. When measuring the DCI-P3 color gamut coverage (the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) and BT.2020, the 32LQ6300 yielded results of 81.2 and 62.2% respectively, which are good results for an LED TV, if not a little lower than expected. 

Testing black levels on the LQ6300 using The Batman, some of the limitations of the LED screen became apparent as blacks took on more of a gray tone, but shadow detail was still rich enough. Contrast was also good, with the lights and shadows during the opening subway fight scene looking well-balanced. When measuring the LG 32LQ6300’s peak brightness on a 10% window test pattern the results were 236 nits and 216 nits in Standard and Movie (Cinema) mode, respectively. 

LG 32LQ6300 with rocky landscape on screen

The LG 32LQ6300 has a very clear, punchy HDR picture  (Image credit: Future)

When evaluating motion using Top Gun: Maverick, the LQ6300 handled the intense scenes well, with the fast-moving jets during the training and final missions looking smooth on screen. There is a picture setting called ‘Real Cinema’ (which was set to On by default in Movie mode) that helped with motion processing, but it’s worth noting that on quick panning shots from left to right the LG LQ6300 did struggle a bit. 

As you’d expect from a 32-inch TV, sound quality isn’t mind-blowing. But the LQ6300’s 2 x 10W speakers still do an adequate, if not sometimes surprisingly good, job compared to other 32-inch TVs. Standard sound mode offered a more direct, powerful sound with a bit of bass. This was welcome in the Batmobile scene in The Batman, as there was heft to the Batmobile’s engine. 

Cinema sound mode offered a wider soundstage, but overall didn’t have the same balance as Standard. Although perfectly decent for a small screen, those using this TV for more than just bedroom or secondary viewing will want to invest in one of the best soundbars

In terms of design, the LG LQ6300 is a very basic TV. It’s deeper than a good chunk of other 32-inch TVs on the market and has a thicker frame than other TVs as well. It has two feet serving as its stand that are fairly far apart, which could cause issues for those with narrow furniture. It does, however, feel solidly built thanks to this chunkier appearance. The included remote is packed with buttons, arguably a few too many, but it’s functional and covers all the bases.

LG 32LQ6300 with Battlefield V and Game Optimizer menu on screen

The Game Optimizer from LG (pictured) featured on the LG 32LQ6300 enables you to edit settings for games such as Battlefield V (pictured) (Image credit: Future)

Although it doesn’t have any next gen-gaming features, gaming performance is still good on the LQ6300. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, the LQ6300 handled graphically intense battle sequences well with quick-switching between targets feeling smooth. Colors were bold and vibrant and the same definition in textures that was present in movies was evident here as well. 

The LQ6300 comes with LG’s own webOS smart TV platform built-in. Although it doesn’t have the same range of settings to adjust as other LG TVs, there’s still plenty to choose from to tailor the picture to your needs. A large portion of the screen on its home menu is taken up by recommendations, with apps in a line along the bottom, and although this was not a major deal, I still found it a little overwhelming and cluttered. 

Considering value for money, the LG 32LQ6300 is one of the better 32-inch TVs available. There are cheaper models out there with QLED screens and better smart TV platforms, but in terms of features and picture quality, the LG LQ6300 overall is a good 32-inch option for those looking for a smaller set. 

LG 32LQ6300 remote

The LG 32LQ6300's remote (pictured) is functional, if not a little cluttered  (Image credit: Future)

LG 32LQ6300 TV review: Price & release date

  •  $249 / £249 
  •  Release date: 2022 

The LG 32-inch LQ6300 is the 32-inch model in LG’s 2022 TV lineup. Released in 2022, the LQ6300 was initially priced at £249 / $249 on release, which is about right for a 32-inch TV with its specs. Since its release, the LG has dropped in price, sitting around £199 / $179 at the time of writing, although prices have dropped further than this in sales before.

LG 32LQ6300 TV review: Specs

Should you buy the LG 32LQ6300 TV?

Buy it if...

You want a punchy, detailed picture
The LG 32LQ6300 has a great HDR picture with detailed sharpness and punchy colors that really jump out during brighter scenes

You want a bedroom gaming TV
Although it may not have the next-gen gaming features such as VRR and 120Hz, gaming performance and picture are still great on the LQ6300

You want solid built-in sound
It may not have the most powerful sound, but the LQ6300's speakers do a good job considering its small size 

Don't buy it if...

You want the all-around best picture
Whilst the LQ6300's picture looks great in bright, colorful scenes, its black levels aren't the best and it struggles with black uniformity 

You like a plain smart TV platform
LG's webOS22 is easy enough to navigate, but its main menu is a little cluttered with recommendations which on a small screen take up a lot of room 

LG 32LQ6300 review: Also consider

LG 32LQ6300 with testing equipment connected from Portrait Displays, Murideo and HP Omen

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the LG 32LQ6300

  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Displays' Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

I used a variety of SDR and HDR sources to test the TVs preset picture modes, including streaming through Disney Plus, live TV via antenna and several Blu-rays played through a Panasonic DP-UB820 4K Blu-ray player (although I used standard Blu-rays to test the LG 32LQ6300).

After choosing the best picture mode, Movie, I then selected several reference scenes from movies such as The Batman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Top Gun: Maverick and more to test elements of the picture such as color, black levels, and contrast. I tested gaming performance by using an Xbox Series X. 

When it came time to take measurements of the LQ6300, I used Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. With this, I measured peak brightness on a 10% window and 100% window in both SDR and HDR. I then recorded the Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for color accuracy, grayscale and gamma again using Calman. I then measured the color space looking at DCI-P3 and BT.2020 coverage. For all tests, I used the Murideo Six 8K test pattern generator.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: a Sonos Beam alternative with surprisingly big sound
2:00 pm | November 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar: two-minute review

The HT-S2000 is Sony's entry-level 3.1-channel soundbar. Initially priced at $499 /  £449 / AU$695, it’s a compact, all-in-one model with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, with the height effects in both immersive soundtrack formats delivered using virtual processing. 

Sony’s design for the HT-S2000 uses five speakers: three for the left, right and center channels as well as two dedicated woofers for the bass. Connections include HDMI (with eARC/ARC) and optical digital audio inputs. There’s also a USB type-A port to play music on connected USB drives. Unlike some of the best soundbars, the HT-S2000 doesn’t support music streaming using Wi-Fi or AirPlay, though its Bluetooth 5.2 support will let you play music wirelessly from a phone. For those looking to expand their soundbar’s capabilities in the future, the HT-S2000 can also be paired with Sony’s optional wireless surround speakers and subwoofers.

Sony’s soundbar has solid build quality and a sleek, no-nonsense look. It’s easy to set up, and Sony provides its own Home Entertainment app to help with that task – it also lets you tweak the sound for your specific installation. There are a range of Sound EQ modes, including automatic volume levelling, that can be accessed using either the app of Sony’s bundled remote control. The HT-S2000 also features Sony’s proprietary Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing, both of which work to enhance the level of audio immersion coming from the soundbar’s basic 3.1-channel speaker array.

The HT-S2000’s overall performance is great for the price. It delivers dialogue that sounds consistently clear even when pushed to a high level, and bass output is better-than average for an all-in-one soundbar. Sony’s proprietary processing allows for the height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks to extend beyond and above the screen boundaries of a TV the soundbar is connected to and there’s also a notably good surround sound ‘wrap-around’ effect when the S-Force Pro Front Surround feature is active.

When it was first released, the HT-S2000 wasn’t the strongest value as it lacked features found in some of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars selling for the same price, such as up-firing speakers and built-in Wi-Fi for lossless music streaming. But the HT-S2000 has since widely dropped in price to $349 / £299, making it a much more compelling value, especially given its performance.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand

Sony's soundbar is a good fit for TVs with a 55-inch (shown here) or a 65-inch screen size. (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: price and release date

  • Released in March 2023
  • $499 / £449 / AU$695

Sony’s HT-S2000 soundbar was released in March 2023 at an initial price of $499 /  £449 / AU$695. Its price has since dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, though it’s still selling for AU$695 in Australia.

In the Sony 2023 soundbar lineup, the HT-S2000 sits below the HT-A2000, another 3.1-channel model that adds Wi-Fi streaming along with Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2 support.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: features

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support
  • HDMI and optical digital connections
  • Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing

The HT-S2000 is a 3.1-channel soundbar with support for the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio formats, which it delivers using virtual processing. It doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi for streaming, though you can stream music to it over a Bluetooth wireless connection.

Two Sony audio processing features found on the HT-S2000 are Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround. The first helps to elevate sound effects, music and dialogue to screen level or even above where they will sound more natural. The second provides a virtual ‘wrap-around’ so that surround effects sound like they are coming from the sides of the room.

Connection options on the HT-S2000 are basic. It has an HDMI-eARC port for connecting to a TV, an optical digital audio input, and a USB type-A port that can be used to play music files stored on a USB drive. Like other soundbars from brands including Sonos, Bose, Samsung, and LG, the HT-S2000 can be expanded by adding Sony’s wireless surround sound speakers and subwoofers.

  • Features score: 4/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on white background

The soundbar's top-mounted controls (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: sound quality

  • Very good dialogue clarity
  • Spacious virtual surround 
  • Sounds good with music

 A key benefit of the Sony soundbar is its handling of dialogue in movies and TV shows. Watching a few dialogue-heavy scenes from Top Gun: Maverick, voices sounded clean, and I could push the volume to relatively high levels without it sounding edgy. For comparison’s sake, I swapped out the Sony with a 2.1-channel model and found dialogue in the same Top Gun: Maverick scene to be significantly less clean-sounding. The comparison demonstrated the advantage to using a soundbar like the HT-S2000 with a dedicated center-channel speaker, which is a feature that 2.1-channel soundbars lack.

Skipping ahead to the aerial dogfight scene in Top Gun: Maverick, Sony's soundbar sorted the dialogue, music (The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again) and sound effects in an impressively clear manner. There was also a decent amount of bass, which enhanced the sound of drums in the music and added definition to the trajectory of the fighter jets. The soundbar’s virtual processing made height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks like Top Gun exceed the height of my TV’s screen. And while the presentation wasn’t as expansive as what I’ve experienced with soundbars featuring dedicated Atmos speakers, it still had a satisfying level of immersion.

Music also sounded surprisingly good on the HT-S2000, especially given its low price. It’s possible to listen to plain stereo with the soundbar’s virtual processing disabled, but pressing the Sound Field button on the remote control adds a level of spaciousness that enhances the stereo separation without making voices and instruments sound unnatural. Equally important, it elevates the presentation in the vertical dimension so that the sound doesn’t appear to be coming from a horizontal bar located beneath your TV’s screen.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on white background

Ports on the HT-S2000's left and right sides enhance the soundbar's bass output. (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: design

  • Compact design
  • Above-average build quality 
  • Alphanumeric front-panel display

The HT-S2000 has a compact, all-in-one soundbar, measuring 31.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches high and 5.25 inches deep. Build quality is a cut above most budget soundbars, with the Sony’s sturdy black plastic cabinet fronted by a metal mesh grille. Ports located on the soundbar’s left and right sides allow for enhanced bass output, while its X-Balanced Speaker Unit design physically aligns the 3.25 x 1.8-inch drivers and 3.75 x 1.8 woofers to reduce distortion.

Capacitive controls on the HT-S2000’s top surface let you adjust volume and connect with Bluetooth devices, and there’s also a small remote with additional controls to switch inputs, select sound EQ modes, and adjust the bass level. Sony’s soundbar conveniently provides visual feedback to remote control commands via its alphameric front panel display. That feature is one you don’t regularly find on lower-cost soundbars, and it’s a superior option to basic LED lights.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar inputs

Inputs include HDMI and optical digital connections (Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: usability and setup

  • HDMI eARC/ARC connection to TV
  • App-based setup 
  • No voice assistant support

The HT-S2000’s single HDMI input makes the setup process simple. Just connect it to a TV’s HDMI eARC (or ARC) port, select that input on the soundbar, and you’re ready to roll. Another option is to use the soundbar’s optical digital input, but that connection type doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or the HDMI-CEC control that lets you adjust the soundbar’s volume level using the TV’s remote control.

Sony’s Home Entertainment control app duplicates all the functions of the soundbar’s hardware remote and also provides a range of setup options for initial installation and performance. The latter includes an A/V sync adjustment, automatic volume level adjustment, and DTS Virtual:X to enhance basic stereo or mono soundtracks.

The soundbar’s alphanumeric front panel display makes using it super-easy as you don’t have to rely on a sequence of flashing LEDs to let you know what input or sound mode is selected. There’s no voice assistant support as on some other soundbars in the HT-S2000’s price range such as the Bose Smart Soundbar, but that’s not a feature I imagine most users will rely on, especially when using their TV’s remote control for volume adjustment.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar remote control held in hand

Sony's remote is larger than the ones provided with some other soundbars and has clearly marked control buttons (Image credit: Future)
  • Usability and setup score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: value

  • Affordable price
  • Very good performance for the money 
  • Lacks Wi-Fi and AirPlay streaming options

At its initial $499 /  £449 / AU$695 price, the Sony HT-S2000’s overall value proposition was just average. It faced very strong competition from the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), another all-in-one soundbar with virtual Dolby Atmos processing, and one with a built-in Wi-Fi for app-based control and audio streaming. Another competitor was the Bose Smart Soundbar 600, which provides upfiring drivers to deliver height effects in Atmos soundtracks and also features built-in Wi-Fi for streaming.

At the time of writing, however, the HT-S2000’s price has widely dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, making it a much better value given its overall performance and features. Being able to stream uncompressed music directly to the Sonos or Bose from a phone using Wi-Fi or using AirPlay does boost the value of both, but many people mainly use their soundbar for TV audio and are okay with a lesser quality Bluetooth option for their occasional music streaming. For those folks, the HT-S2000 will be the perfect entry-level soundbar.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand with Netflix Black Mirror menu in background

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: Also consider

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar

  • Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
  • Break-in time allowed before critical listening
  • Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks

I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from my iPhone via Bluetooth and the Tidal app on the Apple TV 4K. I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks. 

The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, and a sense of spaciousness with the soundbar's surround mode engaged. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.

Having reviewed many soundbars in the same room over the years, I have a reference sound standard that the Sony HT-S2000 was compared to. For further comparison, I also used an Amazon Fire TV Soundbar, switching between the two compact models on identical movie clips and music tracks.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: November 12, 2023
Samsung CU8000 review: a cheap 4K TV that looks premium, but you can get better pictures
7:34 pm | October 19, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung CU8000 review: Two minute review

The Samsung CU8000 is the second most entry-level LED TV in Samsung’s 2023 lineup, with the CU7000/7100 sitting below it. Sitting above these is Samsung’s range of QLEDs, Neo QLEDs (mini-LED) and QD-OLED TVs. 

Samsung TVs often find themselves amongst the best TVs on the market, especially when it comes to picture quality in sets like the Samsung S90C. The Samsung CU8000 has an edge-lit LED panel so certainly won’t hit these heights, but it does a decent job when it comes to color reproduction and when displaying brighter content, despite its low brightness levels. It also does a good job of handling reflections when viewing brighter images and is surprisingly effective when upscaling SDR content. But, its black levels and contrast are lacking and its poor backlight uniformity in darkened conditions mean it doesn’t quite have the picture to make it a budget gem such as the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED

Sound quality on the CU8000 is not the strongest. With 2.0 channel speakers totaling 20W, the sound is thin and overall lacking in power and punch. Speech levels are surprisingly decent in any sound mode, but there is little-to-no bass and trebles can sound harsh at higher volumes. This is one TV that you’ll definitely need to pair with one of the best soundbars

Design is a real highpoint for the Samsung CU8000 and arguably its most standout feature. A sleek design with a razor-slim depth, super-thin bezel and attractive dark finish, the CU8000 is a really good-looking TV. It has two easy-to-install feet that can be placed in two positions for those looking to place on furniture, but it would also look stunning on the wall using one of the best TV wall mounts

Gaming performance on the Samsung CU8000 is solid enough, with motion feeling smooth despite only having a 60Hz panel. Graphically, it’s colorful and clean-looking, but the lack of next-gen gaming features including no HDMI 2.1 ports with 120Hz and VRR support might put some people off. For more casual gamers, there is the useful Game Hub, which provides access to cloud gaming apps including Xbox cloud gaming and is a welcome inclusion on the CU8000. 

Tizen is one of the better smart TV platforms available, with a neat home menu, or ‘Smart Hub’, layout and access to a wide array of apps. It also offers plenty of recommendations that aren’t plastered across the screen, which prevents them from becoming overwhelming. There are numerous settings to tweak the picture to get it as close to perfect as you’d like, with plenty of room for experimentation. 

With the Samsung CU8000,  you get a big screen from one of the world’s biggest TV brands, such as a 75-inch for around roughly $999/£999/AU$1,800 or an 85-inch for roughly $1,600/£1,500/AU$2,700 if that’s what you’re after. Just-average picture quality and features hold it back from being the Black Friday steal it could be, but if you’re after a solid and affordable second TV, the CU8000 should do the job. 

For our review, we tested the 75-inch version of the Samsung CU8000. 

Samsung CU8000 with sunset on screen

The CU8000 has punchy color but lacks decent contrast  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Prices and release date

  •  April 2023 
  •  Prices start at $399 / £370 / AU$895 for the 43-inch 
  •  Up to $1,597 / £1,499 / AU$2,695 for the 85-inch 

 The Samsung CU8000 is one of Samsung’s entry-level LEDs in its 2023 TV lineup, with only the CU7100 below it. As such, it’s the second cheapest 2023 Samsung TV. At the time of release in April, prices for the Samsung CU8000 were as below: 

  • 43-inch: $399 / £499 / AU$899 
  • 50-inch: $449 / £549 / AU$995 
  • 55-inch: $529 / £679 / AU$1,199 
  • 65-inch: $649 / £849 / AU$1,499 
  • 75-inch: $999 / £1,199 / AU$1,999 
  • 85-inch: $1,699 / £1,899 / AU$2,999 

At the time of writing, several months after release, CU8000 prices have dropped across the entire range of sizes, with particularly large price drops in the UK, averaging around 30%. For the 55-inch version, the Samsung CU8000 sits at $499 /£499/ AU$1,195, which makes it the same price as the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. For the 75-inch Samsung CU8000, the size used in our review, you’re looking at $949 / £925 / AU$1,795 which is a great price for such a big screen.  

Samsung CU8000 review: Specs

Feet of Samsung CU8000

Feet provided with the 75-inch Samsung CU8000 (pictured) are solid and can be installed in two different positions  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Features

  •  Tizen smart TV platform 
  •  Edge-lit LED panel  
  •  No 120Hz or VRR gaming support 

As an entry-level LED TV, the Samsung CU8000 isn’t packed with as many features as more premium models and even in comparison to other budget TVs, like the Amazon Omni QLED, it lacks some of the features you would hope for, especially from a brand like Samsung.

The CU8000 has an edge-lit LED backlight, meaning it doesn’t have the same picture quality as higher-end models and even struggles in comparison to similar models, again like the Amazon Omni QLED. In terms of HDR, the CU8000 supports HDR10+ as well as the usual HDR10 and HLG, but as with all other Samsung TVs, it doesn’t support Dolby Vision.

In terms of gaming features, there isn’t a wide array of options available. The CU8000 doesn’t make itself the most standout in terms of gaming performance, with ALLM and HGiG support, but none for 120Hz or VRR. There is, however, Samsung’s Gaming Hub that does collect cloud gaming options via Xbox, Luna and more into one place, with some game recommendations and trending information also included. 

For audio, there are 2 channels with 20W total power output, but no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support. The CU8000 does come equipped with Q-Symphony, a feature that can add another layer to the audio experience when a Samsung TV and compatible Samsung soundbar are paired together. 

The Samsung CU8000 comes equipped with the 2023 version of Samsung’s own Tizen smart TV platform. Tizen provides a smart hub as a home page packed with apps including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and many more. The home page provides plenty of TV  show and movie recommendations based on your viewing and also shows what’s trending on each app. 

  • Features score: 3.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with Top Gun Maverick on screen

The CU8000 handles brighter scenes such as Top Gun: Maverick (pictured) well, even looking quite natural  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Picture quality

  •  Colors are vibrant  
  •  HD/SDR picture looks good 
  •  Black levels lacking plus backlight blooming 

The Samsung CU8000 comes equipped with a standard LED panel with edge-lighting, so it doesn’t have the strongest picture features on the market. And while it succeeds in some areas, it is definitely lacking in others. 

Viewing standard dynamic range (SDR) TV shows, including low-resolution and live HDTV via antenna, the CU8000’s picture was surprisingly detailed. Despite a large 75-inch screen to fill, low-resolution TV shows weren’t as fuzzy as expected, with textures still looking decent. HDTV looked even better, with bright colors and sharp detail on the screen. That’s not to say the image was perfect as there were still some colors looking a little overblown, particularly greens, but considering its LED panel and 75-inch size, SDR content didn’t look bad at all.

Moving on to 4K HDR movies and TV shows, the particular highlights within each different type of image were once again the colors. When measuring the DCI-P3 coverage (the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) in Filmmaker mode, the CU8000 yielded a result of 88.32% and a BT.2020 coverage of 64%. That’s a decent enough result for a budget TV, but it also demonstrated one of the shortcomings of a model with a standard LCD panel as opposed to a QLED or OLED one. 

Measuring Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern and what’s on screen) for color point accuracy, the result was 2.4 (we typically look for this to average below 3). and the grayscale average Delta-E was 2.9. Again, those are respectable numbers for a TV like the Samsung CU8000, so it’s no surprise its colors looked decent in some of the TV shows and movies I viewed. 

First viewing demo footage on the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray, the CU8000 demonstrated the dynamic colors I had seen in the SDR TV shows, but suddenly looked a little more overblown than before. More neutral tones looked best, including scenes of a mountain within a desert landscape, but when it came to black levels and contrast, the Samsung CU8000's shortcomings became obvious. For example, when viewing any night footage, such as a night sky within a city landscape, the black of the night sky took on a gray hue.

When viewing The Batman, during a particularly dark fight scene within the opening of the movie, the Samsung CU8000 again struggled with black levels and shadow details and another shortcoming of the CU8000 became apparent: backlight uniformity. 

When viewed in brighter conditions, the backlight issue wasn’t too obvious, but when the lights were dimmed or turned off, it was hard to overlook. The Batman arguably became difficult to watch, as the CU8000 struggled to control its backlight and the image took on a white overall glow and the movie’s dark, moody tone was lost. 

Watching the throne room fight scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi streamed from Disney Plus in 4K and Dolby Vision, the CU8000’s colors improved again. Red was a prominent color in this scene, and it looked dynamic but not overblown, while the skin tones were true-to-life and natural. One thing that I noted was the lightsabers seemed a bit dimmer than I’d expected, lacking the same crisp and bright punch I’d seen on other TVs like the Amazon Omni QLED. 

When measuring the peak HDR brightness levels of the CU8000 using Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software, the results were 292 nits and 324 nits on a 10% window in Filmmaker mode and Standard picture mode, respectively, which explains the dull-looking lightsaber in the Star Wars Dolby Vision scene. Despite its low peak brightness levels, the CU8000 did handle screen reflections well, even with harsh overhead lights turned on in our testing environment. 

Finally, when watching the two mission scenes from Top Gun: Maverick to check motion handling, the CU8000 did a decent enough job of processing the fast, panning shots as the jets accelerated across screen, though motion judder became obvious in certain intense moments. Thankfully, going into Settings>Picture>Picture Clarity>Judder reduction and making some minor adjustments improved the motion handling, and it did so without leading to the dreaded soap opera effect.  

  • Picture quality score: 3.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with explosion from Star Wars The Force Awakens on screen

Thin- sounding audio mean scenes with battles such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens (pictured) lack any punch (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Sound quality

  •  2.0-channel speakers 
  •  Decent speech levels 
  •  Thin-sounding audio quality 

The Samsung CU8000 is an extremely slim TV, and whilst that certainly makes it an attractive TV, it does not do any favors for its audio. With a 2.0-channel speaker configuration and 20W of power, the CU8000’s audio is incredibly basic and very much on the thin side. 

There’s no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support, as you’d usually expect on TVs around this price, though other budget TVs like the Amazon Omni QLED at least try and make up for this with better built-in sound. The Samsung CU8000 doesn’t do the same, unfortunately. Watching the Batmobile chase from The Batman, bass levels were minimal with the rumble of the Batmobile’s engine almost non-existent. Speech levels were solid enough, but treble and mid-range were also paper-thin, especially in Standard sound mode. Switching to Amplify, everything was heigthened especially in terms of volume, but not really improved.

Also checking out Top Gun:Maverick, speech levels maintained their decent level within the audio mix, but again sound was too direct and thin-sounding to create any real sense of immersion. Switching to Adaptive Sound, the CU8000 took on a slightly more surround-sound feel, but it also made the sound clinical, with any sort of warmth disappearing. 

  • Sound quality score: 3/5

Samsung CU8000 side shot in testing room

The CU8000 is delightfully thin  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Design

  •  Very sleek and attractive design  
  •  Easy to install feet, with two positions 
  •  Feels more expensive than it is 

Samsung has made a habit of designing good-looking TVs (I’m thinking of its 2023 QD-OLEDs, the S90C and S95C, in particular). It’s great to see that it hasn’t forgotten its dedication to design for budget models as well, as the Samsung CU8000 is a very attractive TV.

Featuring what Samsung calls an AirSlim design, the CU8000 is seriously thin – razor-thin in comparison to other TVs, and with a dark finish. Thanks to its minuscule depth, it would look seriously good mounted on a wall. But if that’s not your plan, there are two very easy-to-install feet that can be placed in two positions based on preference. I had it in the ‘narrow’ position during testing and it felt solid. 

The TV itself is very appealing to look at, with a marginal trim around the outside and a super-slim bezel that makes it look more expensive than it is. Despite the slim design, there’s a reassuring ‘quality’ feel to it. 

The Samsung CU8000 also comes supplied with two remotes, one of which is the more minimal smart remote, named the solar cell remote, whilst the other is the more standard Samsung remote with numbers and so on. Each remote feels decent enough in quality, with the solar cell remote in particular looking clean and visually appealing, but it’s nice to have both options.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Samsung Cu8000 with Tizen Smart Hub home menu on screen

The Samsung CU8000 features the 2023 version of Tizen (pictured), Samsung's own smart TV platform  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Smart TV & menus

  •  Tizen smart TV platform 
  •  Smart hub 
  •  Plenty of settings options to tweak 

The CU8000 features the 2023 version of Samsung’s own Tizen smart TV platform. This itself feels like an improvement over last year’s version, with quicker response times and a more streamlined appearance. 

The Smart Hub, the ‘home’ menu of Tizen, is where you can find all the apps that the CU8000 has at its disposal, of which there are many. (Samsung has always had one of the strongest catalogs of smart TV apps.) And with access here to all you’d expect, such as Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV+ and in the UK all the Freeview apps, such as BBC iPlayer, ITVX and so on, there really is something for everyone. Also on the smart hub, Tizen will show any trending shows by app and make recommendations based on genre as well. 

It’s worth noting, however, that, as usual, Tizen does not support Freeview Play in the UK and rather uses its own Samsung TV Plus platform for live TV. 

When it comes to settings, there are plenty of options such as contrast, brightness, sharpness, and motion that will enable you to customize the picture to how you like. There are also plenty of preset picture modes to dig into and again these can be tweaked as well. Being able to tweak picture settings and see the effect clearly on a full screen, without menus blocking the picture, is a really handy feature as well. Tizen still stands as one of the best TV smart platforms around and it’s great to see it on the CU8000.

  • Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with Game hub on screen

The CU8000 comes equipped with a Gaming Hub (pictured) to organize all things gaming  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Gaming

  •  Gaming hub 
  •  10ms input lag time  
  •  No 120Hz or VRR gaming 

When it comes to gaming, the Samsung CU8000 is a little light on physical features to get the best experience for gamers. With no HDMI 2.1 ports, there’s no 120Hz or VRR support. And with no Dolby Vision compatibility, there’s no Dolby Vision gaming, a feature that’s supported by other budget TVs such as the Amazon Omni QLED. 

Graphically, the Samsung CU8000 is perfectly adequate. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, colors were as crisp as they were when playing HDR movies and TV shows and actually looked more natural in the game itself. Textures weren’t as sharp, however, which resulted in plain-looking terrain sometimes, but they were still decent enough.

In terms of gaming performance, despite having no real gaming features, the CU8000 handled motion well enough. When measuring the CU8000’s input lag time with Game mode switched on, it clocked in at 10ms, which is an excellent score for a TV of this type. 

During an intense woodland battle in Battlefield V, switching between targets still felt smooth and despite not feeling as smooth as TVs with 120Hz, the CU8000’s performance was solid enough. 

One welcome feature in the CU8000 is the inclusion of Samsung’s Gaming Hub. This collects together all things gaming such as cloud gaming apps including Luna and Xbox, trending information, and recommendations on other video games and even the Xbox Series X itself to allow for easy navigation of anything gaming-related. 

The CU8000 isn’t going to take over the gaming world anytime soon, but it still performs well enough for those not too worried about having next-gen gaming features.

  • Gaming score: 3.5/5

Samsung SolarCell Remote

The CU8000 comes with two remotes, including the minimalist SolarCell Remote (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Value

  •  Good budget price 
  •  Decent enough level of features 
  •  Better TVs available for similar price 

It’s hard to argue that the Samsung CU8000 doesn’t have a solid, budget price. At $399 / £370 / AU$895 for the 43-inch model, it has an acceptable level of performance for the price to accommodate most people. It’s also possible to get a big screen, such as the 75-inch, for under $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$2,000, if that’s what you’re looking for. 

But, when lined up against the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED, the Samsung CU8000 doesn’t hit the same level of value. The Omni QLED beats the Samsung CU8000 in picture, sound and features, and to top all it off, is the same price or cheaper in every size, although a 75-inch Fire TV Omni QLED option isn't available in the UK or an 85-inch one in the US.

In terms of picture quality and overall performance, a lot of TVs beat the Samsung CU8000. But, if you are a Samsung fan and are looking for a budget LED TV, maybe as a secondart set for the bedroom, the CU8000 should suffice.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with dog and living room on screen from HD live TV

SDR TV shows look surprisingly crisp on the Samsung CU8000 (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung CU8000?

Buy it if...

Don't buy if it...

Also consider...

Samsung Cu8000 with testing equipment attached

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Samsung CU8000

When testing the Samsung CU8000, I first viewed several different sources such as SDR and HDR movies and TV shows through 4K Blu-ray, streaming and live TV via antenna. I also tested video game performance using an Xbox Series X. Whilst doing this, I tested the out-of-the-box picture presets to determine which was best. 

One thing to note is that I have been previously using the Xbox Series X to test HDR content but now have access to the Panasonic DP-UB820, a UHD Blu-ray player that is compatible with multiple HDR formats including Dolby Vision. For future reviews, I will be using this to test 4K Blu-rays, but for the CU8000 testing, I viewed the same movies on both the Xbox Series X and DP-UB820 to get a comparison. 

After some running-in time, I then took measurements of the Samsung CU8000 using Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software. I used this to measure and record the CU8000's SDR and HDR peak brightness levels on a 10% and 100% window. Alongside this, I measured the Delta E averages (the margin of error between a test pattern and what's shown on screen) for grayscale, color point accuracy and gamma. Test patterns were made using the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator.

As well as these tests, I also measured  DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space coverage. This demonstrates how faithfully a TV can render extended color space from UHD sources. Finally, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester to measure the input lag of the TV while it was in its Game mode. 

  • First reviewed: October 2023
Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) TV wall mount review: a straight-up design that will have you hooked
1:00 pm | October 15, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: | Comments: Off

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02): Two-minute review

It might seem like that if you want any type of moving mechanism in a TV wall mount that you have to sacrifice how flush your set can sit to the wall. But Mounting Dream proves that’s not the case with its tilting TV wall mount, which has the serial number MD2268-LK-02.

Granted, the tilt is not the most angled, but if this isn’t a deal breaker for you then it will most likely be an ideal solution for the job at hand. It suits a wide range of TV sizes, from 37- to 82-inches, is simple to install, made from durable and secure feeling alloy steel, and is completely inexpensive. And if you’re worried about whether it will hold, then you shouldn’t. 

This wall mount is made by the California-based company Mounting Dream, which has been making AV/TV mounts for more than 29 years, so you can feel secure in knowing that it is made by experts – you also get a 10-year warranty to back that up. Not only does it produce wall mounts for TVs ranging from 10- to 86-inches, but it also engineers a variety of types, including full-motion and low-profile, for both regular homes, wholesale and even RVs.   

Although this is a tilting TV wall mount, it can easily work in just a fixed position as it doesn’t stick too far out from the wall. Because of this flexibility, it is most suitable for anyone looking to upgrade their space to the next level.   

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Price and release date

A close up of the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) on the wall

(Image credit: Future)
  • Priced at $32.99 / £39.99 / ~AU$39.99 
  • First available in October 2016
  • Available globally from online retailers 

The US version (MD2268-LK), which has slightly different specs, is available to purchase online via the company’s own website for a reasonably low price of $32.99, though you won’t be able to find the exact same model in the UK and Australia. Instead, you’ll need to look for the MD2268-LK-02, which is available on retailers sites like Amazon. In the UK and Australia, it costs more like £39.99 and ~AU$39.99 on major retailer sites like Amazon. 

However, it can be known to be unavailable at times (at the time of writing this review it is sold out on Amazon in Australia), so it’s worth looking at other tilting wall mount models from Mounting Dream as the size ranges do crossover a bit.  

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Specs

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Ease of installation

The Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) parts and pieces laid out on the floor

(Image credit: Future)
  • Simple and quick 
  • Clear instructions
  • Does require a third person for uninstallation 

When you’re looking for a TV wall mount, more often than not, you tend to want a simple and straightforward solution to a new design feature that you’re adding to your space. This was by far the most effortless wall mount we came across during our testing, and one of the reasons why is because of how easy it was to install. Simply plain sailing. 

Many instruction manuals claim that they take just three steps but we found there was always an extra one when aligning the mechanisms or fixing the brackets with a lot of rival models. Not this one. Mounting Dream made it simple to identify which part went where just by looking at it. You can fold out the instructions into a big A2 size piece of paper that lays it all out for you too and there’s a handy cardboard cutout to mark out where the wall plugs for the lag bolts, which are VESA approved, should go. 

It provides you with everything you need and includes materials and instructions for both concrete or drywall. But you do need a few tools of your own including a tape measure, screw driver, electric drill with appropriate drill bits, socket wrench (with a 13mm socket) and a buddy to help you lift the set onto the mount. It’s also worth saying that the release straps do require a third person to uninstall it.   

Ease installation of score: 4.5/5

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Build quality

A close up of the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) latches on the brackets

(Image credit: Future)
  • Uncomplicated but effective design 
  • Well engineered, solid materials

Key to why this TV wall mount is so easy to set up is the fact that it only has three main parts – the wall plate, which is fixed by six lag bolts, and the two TV brackets, which are fixed to the TV with four bolts (more often than not this will be an M6 bolt as it’s most suitable for most TVs) – and these haven't been over engineered either. 

Mounting Dream has stripped back alloy steel to make sure that the brackets themselves are as solid as possible, which is testament to why it feels so secure on a wall when the latches are fixed. Even though it is relatively small in profile, it does feel secure enough to handle up to the full 60kg that it can hold up. 

It's a no-fuss, sturdy type of wall mount that looks solid. It also has an un-confronting amount of materials that you can just tell by looking at them how it all fits together. 

Build quality score: 5/5

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Design

The Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) mounted on a wall with a TV hung on it

(Image credit: Future)
  • Sits flush and secure to the wall 
  • Non-obstructive 
  • No cable management 

A TV wall mount needs to be inconspicuous to get the right effect and Mounting Dream has done well to make sure this keeps a low profile when holding up your TV, which means it doesn’t really stick out from the wall at all – in fact it only sticks out by 38mm. 

It's also only 60cm long and 40cm tall so it doesn't take up too much wall space to secure it either. The only very small matter about its design that I would highlight is that it doesn’t exactly tilt out very much, which isn’t great if you want to hang your TV up high. Mounting Dream gave it a radius of just eight degrees, which means it could be more suitable if you just want to keep it in a fixed position on your wall, rather than facing down.   

There is no cable management provided and the release tags do stick out at the bottom but these can be easily tucked away if needed. Plus, zip ties or velcro straps are inexpensive options to organise multiple wires.   

Design score: 4.5/5

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Value

A close up of the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) TV brackets

(Image credit: Future)
  • Cheap and cheerful 
  • Great value for money

This was the clincher for us. With a retail price of $32.99 – sorry those in the UK and Australia, you’ll have to pay a bit more for it at £39.99 – you might be worried whether it can hold up but Mounting Dream is a trusted name based in California with 29 years of experience and it shows. For this money, ease of use and quality, we haven't found another that beats it.  

Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02)?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we tested the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) tilting TV wall mount

A selection of various TV wall mounts grouped on the floor next to two TVs.

(Image credit: Future)
  • TV mounted with a 65-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED to a drywall 
  • Used an M6 bolt (35mm) and 10mm spacer

Rest assured, we’re not DIY experts but we do have a basic understanding of which tools are best for the job and how those tools should be used. In saying that, though, we still don’t think you need to know the ins and outs of every piece of material and tool at your local hardware store to be able to understand how to install this TV wall mount. 

We mounted a 65-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED to a drywall. We chose to use a larger sized TV to really test out its strength and had two people lifting the TV’s brackets onto the wall plate. We tested this TV wall mount alongside several other brands to compare its overall usability, secureness and value for money.  

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