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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Onkyo HTX-22HDX

Small front speakers

Subwoofer

Buttons on the front of the sub

Back panel

Remote

When people look into buying home theater systems, they tend to focus either on a full 5.1 system or a sound bar. That's unfortunate, because for many people a standard 2.1 (two speakers and a subwoofer) system might be the best compromise.

The Onkyo HTX-22HDX is one of the few home-theater-in-a-box systems (HTIBs) that offer this configuration, with two petite front speakers and a subwoofer that does double duty with a built-in receiver. The price is exceedingly affordable (available online for about $250 at press time) and the style is right, but the question with any small home audio system is whether it can offer good-enough sound quality. Ultimately, we felt the HTX-22HDX fell short on this account, which makes it tough to recommend--at least for discriminating listeners.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Onkyo may be known for its brawny HTIBs, but the HTX-22HDX is decidedly a lifestyle system, focusing more on being compact and stylish than on performance. Instead of big and boxy speakers, the two front speakers come in at only 4 inches wide by 6.31 inches high by 4.38 inches deep.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The subwoofer is also small (by subwoofer standards), even though it also houses the amplifier and AV connectors.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The main subwoofer/receiver combo unit has a black finish that's particularly glossy on the front. There's an LCD display on the front, and the top has a few buttons, including volume, input selection, and power, which are handy in case the remote goes missing.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
All of the HTX-22HDX's functionality can be inferred by checking out the back panel. There are three HDMI inputs, which should be enough for the majority of basic home theaters. The HTX-22HDX is also well supplied with audio-only connections, including three digital inputs (two optical, one coaxial) and two stereo analog inputs.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The included remote gets the job done, but the buttons are tiny. We appreciated that the volume control was clearly set aside and got larger than average buttons, but the rest of the controls aren't as well-designed. Aside from the small buttons, there's not enough button differentiation, so it will be difficult to control anything but volume by feel.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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