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Onkyo unveils 2009 entry-level HTIBs

Onkyo announced two new entry-level HTIBs this week, combining component-grade AV receivers with full-size surround sound speaker systems.

Home-theater-in-a-box systems are often associated with tiny speakers and underpowered AV receivers, but Onkyo (like Yamaha) bucks the trend, packing its home theater systems with big, boxy speakers and component-grade AV receivers. The company announced two new HTIB systems this week, both of which look impressive in terms of value, at least from the specification sheet. Let's take a look at the new systems:

Onkyo HT-S3200

Back panel of the HT-R370, the included receiver on the HT-S3200.
Back panel of the HT-R370, the included receiver on the HT-S3200.

Key features of the Onkyo HT-S3200:

  • 5.1 home theater system with 110-watts per channel
  • Two-way front and center speakers, each with 3.25-inch woofer and 0.75-inch tweeter
  • Smaller rear speakers, each with 3.25-inch woofer
  • 110-watt subwoofer with 8-inch driver
  • Component-style 5.1 AV receiver
  • Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Audyssey Dynamic EQ
  • Three HDMI inputs
  • Two component video inputs
  • Three digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial)
  • Currently available in black, $380 list price

Onkyo HT-S5200

Back panel of the HT-R570, the included receiver on the HT-S5200.
Back panel of the HT-R570, the included receiver on the HT-S5200.

Key step-up features of the Onkyo HT-S5200:

  • 7.1 home theater system with 130-watts per channel
  • Two-way front speakers, each with a 5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter
  • Three-way center channel with two 3.25-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter
  • Smaller rear speakers, each with 3.25-inch woofer
  • 290-watt subwoofer with 10-inch driver
  • Component-style 7.1 AV receiver
  • Audyssey 2EQ automatic speaker calibration
  • Four HDMI inputs
  • Four digital audio inputs (two optical, two coaxial)
  • Minijack input on front for connecting to an MP3 player
  • Sirius-ready
  • Includes Onkyo UP-A1L iPod dock
  • Currently available in black and silver, $600 list price

These HTIBs compare favorably to the packages Yamaha announced recently. The HT-S3200 offers one more HDMI input over the comparable priced Yamaha YHT-391BL, although Yamaha's system steps-up to two-way satellite speakers. It's worth noting that neither system features automatic speaker calibration, which seems like an oversight even on these inexpensive systems.

The step-up HT-S5200 outdoes Yamaha's YHT-591BL ($650) when it comes to number of speakers--offering a 7.1 system compared with Yamaha's 5.1 system--but Yamaha's receiver features onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Of course, the true test for these home theater system will be comparing how they actually sound, and we're looking forward to putting Onkyo's and Yamaha's systems head-to-head.