- Easy to use, USB connection, looks pretty, sounds good
- Not as easy to navigate songs from USB as we would like, could do with a few more connections
An attractive, well-specified and reasonably priced micro Hi-Fi
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
These days it seems it's all about USB. Mobile phones, digital cameras, games consoles; you name it, they've got a USB connection. Up until fairly recently, the home entertainment world has been missing out on all the fun but has now managed to catch up and rest assured, is firmly seated on the bandwagon. LG's LF-U850 micro Hi-Fi system is one such product just dying to show off its extra USB features.
The LF-U850 is a bookshelf type micro Hi-Fi, primarily for use in the bedroom or a small living room. As such, it's a relatively petite system with attractive aesthetics. It's good to see that LG has spurned the standard hi-fi staples of matte black, silver or wood for the LF-U850's finish. While the hi-fi's gloss black with blue highlights may not be a million miles away, it's a distinct enough change to make the LF-U850 stand out from the crowd. The unit also feels well made with solid construction.
The LF-U850 speakers are connected using standard wire clips, which is helpful should you wish to use a pair of alternative speakers. A line-in port is also offered, meaning that exterior devices such as iPods can be connected with relative ease. We would have liked to see the inclusion of some extra ports, such as Digital Optical, but we can forgive LG this minor inconvenience as such features usually lie outside this model's price range.
Accessing the various functions of the LF-U850 is as simple as pressing the 'Function' button on the front of the player. This alternates between the CD player, Radio, USB connection and Auxiliary line-in ports. We found all four functions worked almost flawlessly. The CD player offers all the necessary operations such as random play, playlists and MP3 CD support. The radio offers about as much as we can expect from a radio, with both AM and FM frequencies, as well as RDS radio text. It is the with the USB port that things get interesting. Using the USB support is as simple as plugging in your key drive or flash-based MP3 player. The LF-U850 will do all the rest, even traversing file directories and scanning through multiple folders. Both MP3 and WMA are supported with LG also implementing ID3 tag support, so you'll always know which track is playing. However, a slight problem occurs when attempting to browse large numbers of tracks. The LF-U850 only offers sequential access to files, meaning that to find a specific track might involve trawling through dozens of unwanted files and a lot of unnecessary button presses.
Of course, sound quality is one of the most important considerations when buying a hi-fi. Fortunately, the LF-U850 doesn't disappoint with well balanced sound and powerful bass. You won't be shaking the foundations of the building at maximum power, but it should be loud enough for most. One problem is that the acoustics are a little flat when used without one of the various equaliser options activated, but with them running everything sounded great.
For a hi-fi of such small stature, the LF-U850 packs in a lot of features. The standard 'Extra Bass' function is present as ever, along with the usual Jazz, Classical, Pop and Rock selections. LG has also included a slightly unusual option: 'Drama'. This is presumably for all those people listening to The Bill or CSI on their Hi-Fi. A third preference supposedly optimises the sound quality of MP3 files when using the USB connection, though we found it actually made our music sound worse.
It is little extras such as the abundance of equalisation options that make the LF-U850 a good purchase. The hi-fi manages to combine numerous functions and decent quality, with the system still coming in at a respectable price.
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