Apex HT-100W review:

Apex HT-100W

  • 1
Compare These

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Low, low price; warm sound; decent build quality; two microphone inputs for karaoke fans; five-band graphic equalizer.

The Bad Limited loudness.

The Bottom Line This system will shine in small rooms, and its awesome price-to-performance ratio is ahead of the pack.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall

Updated 9/23/02

Editors' note:
The rating and/or Editors' Choice designation for this product has been altered since the review's original publication. The reason for this is simply the general improvement of technology over time. In order to keep our ratings fair and accurate, it's sometimes necessary to downgrade the ratings of older products relative to those of newer products.

Apex Digital has made its reputation building budget-priced DVD players and televisions, and with the introduction of the HT-100W, the company has now slashed the cost of a full-featured home-theater audio system to a new low. Updated 9/23/02

Editors' note:
The rating and/or Editors' Choice designation for this product has been altered since the review's original publication. The reason for this is simply the general improvement of technology over time. In order to keep our ratings fair and accurate, it's sometimes necessary to downgrade the ratings of older products relative to those of newer products.

Apex Digital has made its reputation building budget-priced DVD players and televisions, and with the introduction of the HT-100W, the company has now slashed the cost of a full-featured home-theater audio system to a new low.

Breaking the price barrier
Let's get right to the HT-100W's standout feature: its price. This kit includes a full-sized DVD player/receiver, five speakers, and a sub for just $249. At that price, you might expect overt cost cutting, and sure, the HT-100W's feature complement is far from lavish, but it has all the essentials. Yes, the sats are plastic, but they're handsome and feel fairly solid. Unfortunately, Apex failed to include any provisions for wall mounting. The matte-silver wood subwoofer is fairly compact. All in all, the HT-100W stacks up pretty well against most of the lower-priced kits that we've reviewed.

The DVD player/receiver's surround-processing capabilities are routine--Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic, and DTS--and you get onscreen displays of menu options. The player is compatible with all standard formats, including DVDs, audio CDs, and MP3 CDs. Connectivity choices are limited to one S-Video output, a smattering of A/V inputs, two digital-audio outputs, a powered subwoofer output, and something that we haven't seen before on an entry-level kit: two microphone inputs with echo control, for karaoke fans. Output ratings are quoted at 250 watts total system power, though that may be a little optimistic.

Our early-production owner's manual covered the basics well enough but was completely useless when we tried to use some features such as the five-band graphic equalizer. We had to call Apex's non-800 service line and hold for 10 minutes before someone helped us traverse the tricky menus. Apex says that it's working on a new manual.

Auditioning the Apex
We started out home-theater audition with Outbreak, an altogether scary bioterror flick. The sounds bounding out of the little system really caught us by surprise; the HT-100W's top-to-bottom tonal integration, dynamic range, natural-sounding dialogue, and detail are right up there with those of some of the better $500 kits that we've heard. The sub's bass went fairly low, though its definition was only fair. We noted that the 100W's speaker-protection circuits would momentarily cut off the sound during the loudest sections of the film, although lowering the volume solved that problem. The DVD player's picture quality was good, though this obviously isn't the type of system that you'd match up with a high-end TV. However, it should be quite adequate for non-HD ready sets that are 32 inches and smaller.

We must mention one caveat that doesn't exactly relate to the kit's power limitations. On the few DVDs with a really wide dynamic range--such as Moulin Rouge and Almost Famous--the system does play loud enough. However, while the loudest sections will fill a small to midsized room, the dialogue, even with the volume control set to the maximum level, may be too low for some listeners. This quirk isn't unique to this system; even some of the most expensive kits have the same problem.

Back to the good news: The 100W is equally adept with home theater and music. Most budget kits are optimized for DVD sound, but the Apex sounded fine with rock, jazz, and even classical music.

Ordinarily, we'd recommend another similar kit for you to peruse before you decide. But we haven't reviewed another system with such a low price, and even those in the $400 to $500 range don't offer dramatically better performance. That said, you might check out the and the for comparison's sake. But you can spend a lot more and still not get something this good.

Best AV receivers of 2017 See All

  • Sony STR-DN1070

    Starting at: £515.80
    4.5 stars

    Lack of Atmos is more than eclipsed by excellent sound quality, making the Sony STR-DN1070...

  • Denon AVR-S920W

    4 stars

    The Denon AVR-S920W is an excellent mid-priced Atmos-ready receiver, with plenty of home...

  • Yamaha RX-V481

    Starting at: £309.00
    4 stars

    This receiver checks most of the must-have feature boxes, and still delivers excellent...

  • Pioneer VSX-831

    Starting at: £299.99
    4 stars

    The Pioneer VSX-831 offers a plethora of features, excellent ease-of-use and fine sound...

 

Discuss: Apex HT-100W

Conversation powered by Livefyre