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Tech Review: Philips HTS8100 Soundbar

sjohnson
9 Comments

Posted October 18, 2007 - By Stephen Johnson

TheFeed gets to play around with all the cool new gadgets and tell you what to think about them. Here’s the scoop on the...

Philips's SoundBar HTS8100 DVD Home Theater
Available: Now
Price: $579.99

The Philips SoundBar is an all-in-one solution to your home audio needs. The reasonably priced SoundBar contains an up-converting 1080i HDMI DVD-player, an AM/FM receiver, iPod dock, and "ambisound" speakers that emulate 5.1 Dolby surround sound. All that for less than $600!

PROS:

  • Clean, compact and space-saving
  • 5.1 surround-emulation gimmick actually works!
  • Idiot-easy installation
  • Cheap Cheap Cheap!

CONS:

  • Sound quality could be better.
  • Surround-Sound not really a match for actual surround sound.
  • All-in-one design means a broken component trashes everything.
  • It's not true HD-DVD nor is it Blu-Ray.

The Philips Soundbar is a triumph of design. It's just one piece, around three-feet long. That's it. A sleek, black horizontal bar that does everything. It's unobtrusive and can replace a trunk load of stereo equipment, a sub woofer, a DVD player, and a grip of 5.1 speakers.

If you live in a small space, this is the solution. It even passes the "girlfriend test:" You can make a convincing case for purchasing this item using arguments your girlfriend will understand! "Honey, it will replace all my stereo equipment! We'll get rid of the speaker wires running everywhere! You can finally plug your iPod mini right into the stereo and we can look at our vacation photos on TV! It will improve our hovel's feng shui or whatever!"  Trust us, she'll go for it.

Once you've talked your bird into the purchase, you'll find the installation is a snap. Like, a monkey could do it. It was actually more complicated and time consuming for us to break down our old equipment than it was to install the Soundbar. It took minutes, and we didn't even glance at the manual.

As for the DVD quality:  Fantastic: Vibrant colors. Black blacks. No noticeable blurring during fast-moving sequences. Really terrific. It's not HD-DVD, but it's pretty close.

The fake 5.1 surround is ingenious. Through the combined effect of "psychoacoustic phenomena, array processing and precisely angled driver positioning" (plus voodoo, we imagine) the Soundbar delivers 5 distinct channel amplifiers in one place. And it works. The Ring Wraiths in Return of the King surrounded us and Halo 3's Grunts sounded like they were coming in from behind us. We like... of course, it's not as good as having 5 surround speakers, but given the unit's small size, you can't really ask for that reasonably.

But the sound quality is a different story: It's perfectly serviceable, but it's not going to win any awards. Music fuzzes out, sounds shrill and crackles when excess volume is applied. The bass won't rattle your teeth. You won't hear the proverbial pin-drop. Basically, the Soundbar sounds like a $600 stereo. It's not bad, but your audio-snob friends with the $10,000 systems will turn up their noses.

The iPod dock is pretty ingenious, as it allows iPod control from your remote, with an on-TV display. Very, very nice. The ability to watch video and photos from your iPod on your TV is a plus as well.

Overall, this system will do a kinda-good job at a lot of different things, but is a master of none. It looks slick and will please your girlfriend, your interior decorator and your wallet, but will displease your audio snob friends. Who you'd like to make happy is up to you.

Specs

 

Picture enhancement High Def (720p, 1080i, 1080p) , Video upscaling , Faroudja DCDi
   
Sound
Sound System Ambisound , Dolby Digital , DTS , Dolby Prologic II , Stereo
Sound Enhancement Smart Surround , DoubleBass , Treble and Bass Control
Equalizer settings Action , Rock , Concert , Classic , Drama , Jazz , MTV , RnB , Gaming , Party , Cartoon , Lounge , News , Sports
   
Loudspeakers
Loudspeaker types Integrated with main unit
Speaker Drivers 2 x 1" Soft Dome tweeters , 6 x 2.5" Full Range woofers
Speaker Impedance 6 ohm
Subwoofer type Active
Subwoofer driver 1 x 6.5" Long Throw woofer
Subwoofer impedance 4 ohm
Subwoofer freq range 30-120 Hz
   
Video Playback
Compression formats DivX 3.11 , DivX 4.x , DivX 5.x , DivX 6.0 , DivX Ultra , MPEG1 , MPEG2
Playback Media DVD-Video , DVD+R/+RW , DVD-R/-RW , Video CD/SVCD , CD-R/CD-RW
Video disc playback system NTSC , PAL

Tags: Tech Reviews
Tech Review: Philips HTS8100 Soundbar
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