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LG's Blu-ray home theater systems bet big on wireless rear speakers

LG's newly announced home theater systems all include Wi-Fi, 3D, and LG's Smart TV suite of streaming-media services, with most of them also including wireless rear speakers.

Matthew Moskovciak Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater
Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.
Matthew Moskovciak
2 min read
LG BH9420 home theater system
LG BH9420 home theater system LG

LAS VEGAS--LG's latest batch of home theater systems will make it tough for other manufacturers to treat wireless rear speakers as a premium feature.

LG announced four new home Blu-ray theater systems this morning at CES 2012, with all but the entry-level BH6720S featuring wireless rear speakers. That's a big shift from years past, when wireless rear speakers were typically only available on the flagship model.

The major features break down like this:

LG BH6720S: Smart TV + Wi-Fi + 3D
LG BH6820SW: Smart TV + Wi-Fi + 3D + wireless rear speakers
LG BH9220BW: Smart TV + Wi-Fi + 3D + wireless rear speakers + Bluetooth + "3D sound"
LG BH9420PW: Smart TV + Wi-Fi + 3D + wireless rear speakers + Bluetooth + "3D sound" + tallboy speakers

LG's 2012 Blu-ray home theater systems

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LG is referring to the BH9220BW and BH9420PW as "9.1" systems, although you'll note from the images that there are only five speakers, plus the sub. That's because the front and rear speakers each have top-firing drivers, creating what LG calls "3D sound". You're not likely to get much a "3D sound" experience when Blu-ray discs only support 7.1 soundtracks, but the extra drivers may add some ambiance.

As we noted in my writeup of LG's Blu-ray players, there won't be any major changes to LG's Smart TV suite of streaming-media services this year. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since LG had the best overall streaming-content portal in 2011, but it's disappointing that LG hasn't put effort toward creating a better cross-platform content-browsing and -searching solution for the Smart TV platform.

The other step-up feature of note is Bluetooth connectivity, which LG did a nice job of integrating into its LG LSB316 sound bar last year. Bluetooth lets you stream from both iOS and Android devices pretty seamlessly and, at least last year, it was a much cheaper solution overall.