Received for review by the Amazon Vine program, I was excited to try out the LG Electronics LAP340 Sound Plate with 4.1 Surround Sound with built-in subwoofer and Bluetooth pairing capabilities. I have no previous experience with sound bars or plates, but have tried out many AV receivers and speaker-subwoofer combinations for my home theater. I watch a lot of movies both streaming and on Blu-ray, and listen to Pandora and iTunes Radio.
To test drive this speaker system I hooked it up to two HDTVs in different home environments. First, to my daughter's VIZIO VA19LHDTV10T 19-Inch ECO 720p LCD HDTV (2010 Model). I decided to use her TV because her bedroom is only about 8' square and in such a small space, I assumed it would perform very well. Second, I hooked it up to my Samsung 42" plasma which is 6 years old, and in a room that is approximately 13' long by 10' wide; placed at one of the long ends of the room. Both TVs have optical ports (a requirement for using this sound plate as this is how it hooks up to your TV; cable is included).
NOTE: This product is recommended for HDTVs sizes 32"-55", although it will work with smaller TVs as long as there is an optical audio input on the TV.
In my daughter's small room this speaker system was amazing! Added depth and dimension to streamed programming (Netflix and HuluPlus), and music from an iPhone or iPod streamed via Bluetooth to the sound plate sounded great too. The Bluetooth connection was solid once connected, although the devices seemed to take a bit longer than expected to pair with the LG Sound Plate.
Regarding the Bluetooth pairing function, because there's no 'on screen' navigation; it's all done with lights (each light means something - in the directions that ship with the speaker system), you do need to turn off your TV to pair via Bluetooth - otherwise the device seems confused and will differ to the optical input as its first choice.
When I took the plate to the bigger room and swapped out my home theater Onkyo receiver, subwoofer and speakers (5.1 set-up) for it, I was less impressed, but still could see value in this sound system. Just not as much value as the retail price of this item.
The bigger room begged for more depth from the subwoofer, and the surround sound was only evident if you were right in front of the speaker with it at ear level. If it was lower and/or you were off to the right or the left of center - the sound experience was different - not as good. In the big room with several angles for seating, not as good as I would have hoped, but I could see if I had this under a TV in the bedroom where the speaker was at ear level across the room - it would be really nice.
NOTE: IF you have an LG HDTV with Sound Sync technology built-in, the SoundPlate wireless is supported. That's great news if your TV is mounted on the wall and you want to have the SoundPlate hidden below it!
For general TV and movie watching this speaker system is a very good choice, even with a cheap TV. (I'm sure there are other sound bars and plates which could do this too, but alas, I can't speak to the others - just this one.) The dual built-in subwoofers add good depth and overall the volume increase is a fantastic bonus. "Slim but Powerful" is on the box, and I'd agree with that statement!
The speaker is not super heavy, but well made. It can hold a TV up to 85 pounds on it, and comes with a 1 year warranty. The simple remote controls and easy set-up are a refreshing change from complicated AV receiver hook-ups, and I could see this being an outstanding choice for non-techy types of people or those who simply enjoy minimalist looks and still want great sound.
I would recommend this speaker system for those who want enhanced sound for their HDTV, and the ability to stream audio Bluetooth content from their iPod, phone or PC. Those with small spaces will be especially happy with this sound system.
I do not recommend it for bigger rooms with seating that's not directly in front of the speaker plate, or for those who want a fully immersive surround sound experience when watching movies. This sound system is good, but at this high price point the bar is set high for all scenarios and there's just not enough room for audio adjustments to make that happen.