On the home-theater front, Samsung usually makes the most news at CES with its announcements of new TVs, but it also trotted out some notable home-theater systems and a couple of new A/V receivers. Its 750-watt HT-AS710 A/V receiver, which will carry a list price of $450 when it's released in March, is intriguing in that it offers HDMI switching and USB connectivity and is XM satellite radio-ready. There's also a more basic HT-AS610 ($250, April). Both have sleek, black casings that are designed to be matched with Samsung's 2006 DVD players, including the HDMI-equipped DVD-HD860, DVD-HD960, and DVD-HD1080. The entry-level DVD-HD860 ($99) will arrive first in March, followed by the DVD-HD960 ($179) in April and the DVD-HD1080 ($249) in May. The high-end model offers support for DVD Audio and SACD multichannel audio formats via its HDMI output, as well as video upscaling to "true HD 1080p progressive output," according to Samsung. That $250 price point is noteworthy for a DVD player with the DVD-HD1080's feature set, but we don't think the 1080p output is a big deal, since it's very difficult to discern 1080i from 1080p output, especially when the video source is being upscaled from 480p in the first place.
Interestingly--and perhaps confusingly--Samsung is going to offer a couple of its new home-theater-in-a-box systems in both HDMI and non-HDMI versions. The HT-Q100 is a two-speaker virtual-surround system that will list for $499 with the HDMI/HD upscaling option and $50 less without it. The HT-XQ100, its new, full-blown 5.1-channel system, will list for $449 with HDMI, but the non-HDMI price will be $50 less. Those models will be available in April, while Samsung's line-topping HT-XQ120, which includes a slim tower speaker, will hit stores in July ($1,199). If you're confused by all the model numbers, you're not alone: in a dyslexic move, Samsung PR reps called the HT-XQ100 the HT-QX100 in their press release.