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Samsung HT-BD1250: 5.1-channel home theater offers Blu-ray, Netflix, Pandora

Samsung offers a traditional 5.1-channel home theater home theater system with Blu-ray and a panoply of online extras and wireless options.

Samsung HT-BD1250 head unit
The "head unit" of the HT-BD1250 (speakers not shown). Samsung

Samsung's got three new all-in-one home theater systems for 2009, all of which are headlined with built-in Blu-ray and support for streaming online Netflix video and Pandora's free Internet music service. The HT-BD8200 and HT-BD7200 are both "lifestyle" systems with minimalist form factors, funky designs, and front-only virtual surround sound (the former is a speakerbar with wireless subwoofer and the latter sports a 2.1 design). But if you want real surround sound, you're going to need actual rear speakers--and that means the more traditional 5.1-channel design of the Samsung HT-BD1250.

Samsung, of course, already offered at least three Blu-ray home theater systems in 2008 (see the HT-BD2T, for instance), but the HT-BD1250 has the big advantage of offering full compatibility with the latest Blu-ray features that were missing in last year's models--BD-Live and lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding--in addition to the aforementioned Netflix and Pandora support. Like the other 2009 models, the BD1250 also includes an iPod dock, a "green-friendly" kelp-based subwoofer, and the ability to stream audio from A2DP-compatible Bluetooth audio devices, such as music phones. But for the unit to fully flex its wireless muscles, you'll need to invest in two extra accessories: an 802.11n Wi-Fi dongle (to access the BD-Live, Netflix, and Pandora online streams without needing access to an Ethernet cable) and a wireless rear speaker receiver (to avoid stringing speaker cables from the front of the room to the back). Look for Samsung's 1000-watt home theater system to hit in the spring of 2009 for just $550.