In a perfect world, everyone with the Xbox 360 would be able to enjoy their gaming experience in a state-of-the-art home theater. In the real world, there are a lot of bedroom, den, and dorm-dwelling gamers who want to get as much as they can out of their limited space. That's where Pioneer's HTS-GS1 comes into play. While many home-theater-in-a-box systems save space by combining a DVD player with the receiver, the HTS-GS1 takes it to the next level by putting its receiver inside the subwoofer and using a small display unit as the main interface.
As far as aesthetics go, the HTS-GS1 is specifically designed to perfectly complement your Xbox 360. The speakers and display unit are "Xbox 360-white," with the speakers sporting gray grilles. If you like the way the Xbox 360 looks, you'll probably like the way the HTS-GS1 looks.
Every element of this system is tiny, with the exception of the subwoofer. The four speakers are 4.6 inches high, 4.1 inches wide, and 4.5 inches deep, and the display unit measures only a couple of inches deep and few inches shorter than the Xbox 360. The biggest component by far is the receiver/subwoofer, which is 7.9 inches wide, 14.8 inches tall, and 17.6 inches deep. Overall, this HTIB should have no problem fitting in all but the most cramped spaces.
Overall, we liked how easily the remote integrated with the Xbox 360. The remote is geared toward using your Xbox 360 as a DVD player, with the standard buttons located near the top. Pioneer has also included Xbox-specific buttons (Y, X, A, and B) for navigating the menus, and using the remote feels like you're operating one integrated system, as you seamlessly switch between controlling the receiver and the Xbox. There were some notable omissions--we would have liked a mute button--but the remote definitely gets the job done.
Autosetup was a breeze using Pioneer's Multichannel Acoustic Calibration (MCACC) system. After attaching the included microphone, it's as easy as hitting one button and letting the system run its tests.
The HTS-GS1 package includes four minispeakers, a center channel, the display unit, and the subwoofer/receiver. Utilizing the more stringent FTC (Federal Trade Commission) power ratings, it delivers 25 watts to each of the minispeakers and 30 watts to the subwoofer. Despite these seemingly low numbers, the HTS-GS1 sounds just as loud as any typical HTIB--it just uses more accurate numbers.
It includes the standard surround decoding options, Dolby Digital and DTS, along with Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Pro Logic II Music, and Dolby Pro Logic II Movies. You can also go with a virtual surround option called Front Surround. In this configuration, the system's two would-be rear speakers are instead mounted on the front speakers and pointed toward the walls. There's also a Sound Retriever option that supposedly "helps bring CD quality back to compressed MP3s and WMAs," but we didn't feel like it made that kind of improvement. And unlike a surprising number of all-in-one home-theater systems, the HTS-GS1 includes treble and bass controls, which are accessed using the remote.
The HTS-GS1's connectivity is limited, but not a major concern when you consider that the Xbox 360 can handle most of your multimedia needs. You get a total of three digital audio inputs--two optical and one coaxial. One of the optical inputs is dedicated to the 360, and Pioneer includes a matching cable in the box, which is a nice bonus. There's also an analog stereo RCA input for one additional device. The biggest omission is the complete lack of video inputs. Yes, the 360 doubles as a capable DVD player (and network media hub), but other devices--such as a cable/satellite box, a DVD recorder or a DVR--will have to be connected directly to the TV. It's also worth mentioning that there's no headphone jack.