Philips HTS8100 Sound Bar Reviewed

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philips_hts8100.jpgThe Philips HTS8100 is a less-expensive option in the sound bar product category ($800) compared to competitive models. It includes a subwoofer and a slick DVD player on the player's front panel. The unit looks spiffy sitting under any flat-panel TV or mounted on the wall with the thoughtfully included wall mount. (If you plan on wall-mounting the sound bar, remember that it has to connect to the subwoofer, which means wire running from the floor to the wall.) You also get an iPod dock in the package that connects to the main speaker unit, but again, that means a little more wire and a less clean look. Still, this is better than the alternative, which is no iPod dock at all, as with some sound bars.

Additional Resources
• Read more sound bar reviews from's staff.
• Compare the HTS8100 to the Sony HT-CT150 sound bar.

The HTS8100 connects to your TV via an HDMI output (there is also a component and a composite output), but there are no video inputs to speak of, which means you can't connect video sources, such as a gaming console or Blu-ray player, directly to the unit. You can, however, run your video cables to your TV and the audio cables to the HTS8100 in order to enjoy your various sources on the sound bar.

The included DVD player performs incredibly well in terms of video quality. Images look detailed and sharp, with vibrancy and luster that is lacking on some standalone players. The unit is capable of upscaling DVDs to as high as 1080p.

This unit does a good job of simulating surround sound and, while it won't compare to five (or seven) speakers plus a subwoofer, if you are shopping for a sound bar, then style is probably more important than performance. The HTS8100 sounded a bit thin on some movies, but the subwoofer did a great job providing the low-frequency energy.

Read more about the high points and low points of the HTS8100 on Page 2.


HTR Product Rating for Philips HTS8100 Sound Bar

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High Points
• The built-in DVD player is an added bonus; many other sound bars, costing as much as 50 percent more, do not offer this.
• An included subwoofer provides bass energy, filling out the sound very nicely. It's not a Sunfire or a Velodyne subwoofer, but you'll certainly be glad to have it in the system.
• This sound bar provides very strong video quality for legacy DVD-Video discs.
• Philips offers an included iPod dock, unlike some sound bars that charge extra for iPod integration.

Low Points
• The HTS8100 has no video inputs, meaning you will need to connect your video sources to your TV set.
• While it provides decent surround sound, audio could be more powerful. Try using this one in a smaller room for best results.
• The unit doesn't support the latest HD audio codecs for HD surround sound from Blu-ray, as Dolby True HD and DTS HD do.

All said, this is a nice little speaker package - a DVD player, a subwoofer, an all-in-one virtual surround speaker, and an iPod dock - that is a pretty darn good deal, considering what all these various components would cost separately. The video quality is pretty strong, the audio quality is competent, and you get everything you need to get into home theater on the cheap. The Philips HTS8100 is the perfect choice for a small-to-medium-sized room where aesthetics are important and a 5.1 or 7.1 dedicated theater is just not in the cards.

Additional Resources
• Read more sound bar reviews from's staff.
• Compare the HTS8100 to the Sony HT-CT150 sound bar.

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