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Samsung HT-BD8200 sound bar includes Blu-ray, Netflix, Pandora

Samsung's 2009 home-theater-in-a-speaker boasts Blu-ray upgrade.

Samsung HT-BD8200

The Samsung HT-X810T--which debuted at 2008's Consumer Electronics Show--wasn't the first sound bar home theater system with a built-in DVD player (that'd be the Philips HTS8100). When CNET eventually reviewed it, we praised the inclusion of the wireless subwoofer, but included this knock: "the [built-in] DVD player's nice, but a Blu-ray player would have been even better." Well, it seems Samsung took that criticism to heart. The 2009 version, known as the HT-BD8200, does indeed get the upgrade to a Blu-ray player. Like the other models in the Sammy's '09 line-up, it's state of the art--both BD-Live compliant and with the capability to stream Netflix movies and the Pandora online music service. Other niceties include an iPod dock and the capability to stream audio from A2DP-compatible Bluetooth audio devices, such as music phones. Like the 2008 model, the subwoofer is wireless.

The HT-BD8200 is also Wi-Fi-ready, meaning you'll need to invest in a Samsung USB dongle to use wireless (rather than Ethernet) networking for access to those BD-Live, Netflix, and Pandora features. The unit also boasts maxed-out Blu-ray lossless audio decoding (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio). We just hope that the faux surround sound feature is improved from last year's model, which--like most of these single-speaker virtual surround systems--was passable, but nothing to write home about.

If the sound bar style is too radical for you, Samsung's also has the HT-BD7200 and HT-BD1250 on deck as well, both of which offer the same basic feature set in more traditional 2.1 and 5.1-channel designs, respectively. Look for the Samsung HT-BD8200 to hit stores in July for $800.