DVD home-theater-in-box systems seem to offer a lot of value from the spec sheet, but are often seriously disappointing in use, with lackluster audio and video being the norm.
So far, our experience with Blu-ray HTIBs has been the exact opposite; almost all of the systems we've tested this year offer a legitimate home theater experience. The Samsung HT-BD1250 (street price as low as $500) is the best budget system we've seen.
We were fully expecting lifeless sound after our review of the, but the HT-BD1250 proved our prejudice wrong, offering credible sound quality even with stereo music--a tough feat for HTIBs. Its built-in Blu-ray player is as good as the standalone and streaming options like Netflix and Pandora will complement your physical media collection.
We had our quibbles about the usability of the design (although the system looks good) and, like all Blu-ray HTIBs at this price, it lacks HDMI inputs--you'll need to step up to the Samsung HT-BD3252 or LG LHB977 if you want HDMI connectivity. But these shortcomings are outweighed by the systems strengths.
Yes, it's a little more expensive than competing budget systems, but if you can spare the extra bucks, the Samsung HT-BD1250 is well worth it.