Philips' home theater in a speaker

Philips' new single speaker surround system features a built-in DVD player.

We heard about Philips' 1.1 virtual surround system, the HTS8100 SoundBar, before CES 2007, but now that we've got the final specs, we're even more eager to give it a whirl when it comes out around the middle of this year, for $999. What differentiates from the single-speaker competition (a subwoofer is also bundled in) is the inclusion of a built-in DVD player, which will catch the eye of minimalists who want to pair it with a flat-panel TV and call it a home-theater day.

Philips' HTS8100 has a built-in DVD player.
The HTS8100 has a built-in DVD player. Philips

The HTS8100 is only five inches thick and features Philips' proprietary Ambisound technology, with five amplifiers integrated into the single horizontal "sound bar" to create what the company deems a "full 5.1-surround sound experience through a one-piece, fully integrated, home theater system." Playing up the system's high-end credentials, Philips says the built-in DVD player offers 1080p upconversion via HDMI and Faroudja DCDi circuitry. Sounds good to us.

The step-down HTS6600 is a 2.1 system.
The step-down HTS6600 is a 2.1 system. Philips

If that $1,000 price tag scares you a bit, Philips has also introduced a sleek 2.1 virtual surround system that will list at $599 when it, too, hits stores in the second quarter of this year. The HTS6600 features HDMI connectivity but it upconverts video to 1080i, not 1080p. However, we suspect that only hard-core videophiles will be able to tell the difference.

 

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