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Samsung announces cheapest Blu-ray home theater system yet

Samsung has announced a budget Blu-ray home-theater-in-a-box system, the HT-BD2E, that includes a 5.1 speaker system and a reasonable $800 price tag.

Samsung was officially the first to offer up a home-theater-in-a-box system with Blu-ray (although Panasonic was right behind), but as you might expect, we found the $1,500 system a little overpriced for what it offered. Samsung has now announced a follow-up budget Blu-ray HTIB, the HT-BD2E, and at nearly half the price ($800), it has the potential to be a far more appealing product. Let's check out the key features, or at least what we know so far.

Key features of the Samsung HT-BD2E:

  • 5.1 channel system, 800 watts total power
  • Four satellite speakers, one center speaker and a passive subwoofer
  • HDMI output for Blu-ray, and 1080p upconversion for DVDs
  • Two optical digital audio inputs
  • Ethernet port for firmware updates only
  • Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD High Resolution
  • Available in August with a list price of $800

We've confirmed with Samsung that the included Blu-ray player will be a Profile 1.0 player, which means it won't be able to access any of the Profile 1.1 or Profile 2.0 features available on some newer Blu-ray Discs. You may also notice that there's no support for the highest-resolution DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack format, but on a system like this, you probably wouldn't notice the difference anyways.

Unlike the $1,500 Samsung HT-BD2, it's actually pretty difficult to put together a DIY home theater system with the same functionality for $800. If you put together Onkyo's upcoming HT-S6100 system with a Sony PlayStation 3, you're already looking at $1,100--although you'd get a lot out of that extra $300.

If you're willing to spend a little extra, Samsung is also offering a $1,000 HT-BD2S, which--aside from two extra speakers (7.1 versus 5.1) and a powered subwoofer--is essentially identical to the BD2E model described here. But at that price, we're much more inclined to put together our own system. We'll be trying to get a review sample of the HT-BD2E as soon as possible, but until then we'll remain cautiously optimistic that the system may represent a good value for those looking to get into Blu-ray.