Deal: Philips HTS8100 Soundbar/DVD - $549.99
If you're short on space, or just have it in for wires, Philips' do-it-all pseudo 5.1 soundbar might be your ticket.
Philips HTS8100 Ambisound Soundbar DVD Home Theater System
March 11, 2008 by Gordon Jones

It’s been interesting to watch the new soundbars popping up in the various home theater mags and review sites. Obviously, they’re a reaction to the less-is-more crowd as well as those of you/us that have encountered pushback on installing surrounds in, say, the bedroom. While I have yet to test any of the current offerings, it appears that they may be the only acceptable solution if I’m ever to enjoy U-571 while in my jammies.

The Philips HTS8100 is one of the more attractive models in this new class, both in looks and features. The 5-inch deep bar has a modern styling and can be easily wall-mounted or set on a shelf. The tweeters are soft dome and designed for full midrange performance, though reviewers felt they worked better on movies than straight music. There’s also a 3-band equalizer and a “Smart Surround” technology that automatically adapts the surround settings based on content. A separate subwoofer handles the lows and can be placed several feet from the bar.

What sets the Philips apart from the other soundbars is it’s integrated DVD/CD/SACD player concealed by the motorized faceplate. Yes, I’ve been burned before by all-in-ones, but I can see where Philips is going - one less component and even fewer wires. That might be worth the risk. Also included is an FM tuner, iPod port, USB, component and HDMI (w/ video upscaling) and several audio-in jacks.

The science of getting pseudo-5.1 sound from a single source is a fascinating subject involving a lot of array processing, several well-placed drivers, and a degree or two in psycho-acoustics. Obviously, no one, including Philips, is claiming these bars produce the same spatial qualities that separate speakers can, but if you’re limited to a front-only scenario, or just really hate running wires, this new class of speaker provides the best/latest solution.

Sale price: $549.99 + $49.80 s/h

Deal ends: n/a

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