LG's 2013 home theater line doubles down on sound bars, Bluetooth speakers

LG has announced its entire 2013 home theater line in advance of CES, including modest updates to its sound bars, Blu-ray players, HTIBs, and Bluetooth speakers.

LG logo
LG

CES 2013 is still weeks away, but LG is getting a jump on the show by announcing its full line of home theater products on Christmas Day.

Its home audio offerings are anchored by four new sound bar models, with all but the entry-level NB2030A featuring built-in Bluetooth and a wireless subwoofer. The top two models come in a new, larger size, designed to match 47-inch TVs, which reflects the rising popularity of larger screen HDTVs.

The strangest model may be the NB3730A, which includes built-in Wi-Fi and a basic streaming-media suite including including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and Pandora. Paying extra for streaming-media in a sound bar seems like a hard sell -- especially with the superior Roku LT available for just $50 -- so I'd be surprised if many people opted for the NB3730A over less expensive models. Full breakdown of sound bar features below:

LG 2013 sound bars and HTIBs comparison chart
Click to enlarge. LG
The chart also includes LG's line of Blu-ray home-theater-in-a-box systems, which all featuring built-in Wi-Fi and LG's full Smart TV suite of apps. You'll notice the higher-end models are listed as "9.1 systems", but that's more marketing than anything else -- the additional channels are top-mounted drivers on the speakers, designed to create a more immersive sound. ( CNET's experience with "height" channels in home audio has been underwhelming.) Regardless, I've been hesitant to recommend HTIB systems these days over competing options , and these models don't offer anything that changes my mind.

For Blu-ray, LG is slimming its line down to just three models: BP330, BP530 and BP730. At first glance, the entry-level BP330 looks most attractive, with built-in Wi-Fi and the same stripped-down collection of streaming services included on the NB3730A sound bar.

The most interesting step-up feature on the BP530 and BDP730 is "private sound mode", which lets you listen to the audio of your Blu-ray player via an app on your smartphone -- essentially a DIY wireless headphones solution. That's probably not enough incentive to pay extra over the BP330, but it's a feature that's likely to appeal to more buyers than 3D, 4K upscaling, or a Web browser. A full breakdown of the features is below:

LG Blu-ray players comparison chart
Click to enlarge. LG

Like seemingly every manufacturer, LG is also expanding its selection of Bluetooth/AirPlay and docking speakers. There's not much to differentiate these kinds of speakers without listening to them, although the NP6630 and ND8630 interestingly include AirPlay, Bluetooth, DLNA, and NFC, with the latter also including a dual-dock that can accommodate iPhones, iPads, and some Android devices.

LG 2013 Bluetooth and docking speakers
LG

While none of these products screams "break-out hit", there look to be many solid, workaday products in the new line for buyers looking to pickup a Blu-ray player, Bluetooth speaker, or sound bar, although we'll have a better idea after LG announces pricing.

 

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