Home-theater-in-a-box systems have been around forever, but the latest marketing angle is the "Blu-ray
ready HTIB." The new phrase simply means that the system consists of a surround-sound-speaker system and an AV receiver, so you only need to add a Blu-ray player to complete your home theater. The Sony HT-SS360
is an entry-level Blu-ray-ready HTIB, complete with a decor-friendly (read: small) 5.1 speaker system and an AV receiver with three HDMI
inputs. That's enough HDMI ports to handle most home theaters, but the HT-SS360 doesn't have any analog video ports, which is an annoyance for anyone with a Nintendo Wii
, where you'll need to run its video output straight to your TV. In terms of sound quality, we felt like the HT-SS360 was up to the task on movies--especially considering its $350 list price--but like many HTIBs, it just didn't cut it for music. The HT-SS360 is a good value if you're looking for an all-in-one solution and you already have HDMI-compatible video devices (especially a PS3
or other Blu-ray player), but more discriminating listeners will have to spend more if they want a system that sounds good with music too.