Home theater systems simplify the setup of your entertainment center. Rather than purchasing speakers, a receiver, a Blu-ray player, and other components separately, you can pick one pre-matched package and have everything you need. You’ll often save money, and you’ll know that you aren’t going to run into any compatibility issues.
When shopping for an HTIB (home theater in a box), look for the same merits as you would if you were shopping for components individually: sufficient power for you room size, clean sound with tight bass, a good feature set, and a convenient user interface.
We’ve consulted reviews on websites such as Audioholics, Home Theater Magazine, Newegg.com, Amazon, CNET, Consumer Reports, and BigPictureBigSound to find the top rated home theater systems on the market today:
Onkyo HT-S9400THX ($796)
- Superior HTIB sound
- Generous selection of connections
- No Blu-ray player
Top Review Sources:
- Audioholics: “We always like to have a few recommendations for HTiBs in our back pocket…This one has definitely made the cut.”
- Home Theater Magazine: “This system isn’t just a repository for logos but a solid performer at a reasonable price” (HT-S9300THX)
- Newegg.com: 4.0/5.0 (5+ reviews)
The Onkyo HT-S9400THX is the latest system in Onkyo’s THX-certified HT-S series. Similar systems, such as the HT-S9100THX and HT-S9300THX, have collected glowing reviews across the internet, and the HT-S9400THX is continuing that trend. Onkyo’s top-of-the-line prepackaged system, the HT-S9400THX is a 7.1 home theater designed for small rooms. It includes a receiver with plenty of connection options: 4 HDMI inputs/1 output, 5 composite inputs/1 output, 2 component inputs/1 output, and a front-panel USB input. By connecting the HT-S9400THX to the internet via Ethernet cable or optional UWF-1 USB wireless adapter ($30), you’ll be able to stream audio from your PC as well as internet sources such as Rhapsody, Napster, SiriusXM, Pandora, Slacker, Mediafly, vTuner, and Last fm. The receiver also supports media from Windows 7, DLNA, iPod/iPhone, and USB memory stick devices. There is also a remote control app for iPad/iPhone/iPod. Included as well is the Audyssey 2EQ room correction wizard, which assists users in the initial placement and tuning of the speakers.
Aside from its flexibility and multitude of features, the HT-S9400THX simply sounds great. Reviewers of the HT-S9400THX and its predecessors rank them among the best HTIB solutions. The HT-S9400THX is intended for small rooms, but many reviewers find it is powerful enough to fill medium and large rooms with clear, authoritative sound.
Sony BDV-E780W ($486)
- Excellent audio and video quality
- Plenty of streaming media options
- Average user interface design
Top Review Sources:
- CNET: 4.0/5.0 “One of the best Blu-ray home theater systems we’ve tested” (BDV-E770W)
- Amazon: 4.0/5.0 (65+ reviews) (BDV-E770W)
The Sony BDV-E780W builds upon the success of its predecessor, the BDV-E770W. The BDV-E780W is a 5.1 system that includes a 3D Blu-ray player. Audio reproduction is first-rate; treble is natural and sharp, and bass is deep and clear. Image quality from the Blu-ray player is very good and the player itself has faster than average response times when loading content. The rear speakers are wireless, which decreases setup time and adds flexibility. The largest criticism of this system’s predecessor was the lack of HDMI inputs; on the BDV-E780W, this problem has been addressed. There are now inputs for 2 HDMI, 1 IR, 1 optical, 1 analog PIN, 2 USB, and 1 coaxial. Outputs are 1 HDMI, 1 component, and 1 composite. The BDV-E780W has integrated Wi-Fi as well. You can stream content from services such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Amazon VOD, and Pandora, plus you can wirelessly stream music from a PC. With a free app, you can turn your iPhone, iPad, or compatible Android device into a remote control.
Additionally, the Sony BDV-E780W includes an iPod/iPhone dock for direct access to the music, photos, and videos stored on your device. The BDV-E780W is Sony’s flagship HTIB; it will have no problem complementing a high-end television and providing sound powerful enough to fill a medium or large room.
Samsung HT-D6500W ($479)
- Outstanding sound quality
- Great video quality
- Not for large rooms
Top Review Sources:
- Amazon: 4.5/5.0 (5+ reviews)
- Consumer Reports: “Best Buy” (HT-C6500W)
- BigPictureBigSound: 3.5/4.0 “An impressive package and an incredible value” (HT-C6500W)
Another HTIB carrying the positive momentum generated by its predecessor, the Samsung HT-D6500W delivers leading performance at a great price. The HT-D6500W succeeds the HT-C6500W, which was universally praised for its outstanding sound quality—much more like a separates system than a typical HTIB. The blend between the five satellites and subwoofer is seamless in the HT-D6500W. Video quality from the included 3D Blu-ray player/receiver is similarly excellent, whether the source is 1080p or standard definition. You’ll be able connect your iPod through the included dock cradle. Other inputs include 2 HDMI, 1 audio, and 1 USB; there is an HDMI output as well. Wi-Fi is built-in, and you’ll be able to take advantage of services from Netflix, Blockbuster, Pandora, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, you can stream DLNA content from a computer. The HT-D6500W has wireless rear speakers and is appropriate for a medium-size room.