Despite the fact that this is a sophisticated home theater system, I'll make the assumption that some parents might end up buying one for their kids, so I moved on to some animation with Ratatouille on DVD (Walt Disney Home Entertainment). I found the picture to be sharp and the color saturation amazing, thanks to built-in Faroudja upscaling. I tried switching the resolution from the default setting of 480p to 720p, which produced a noticeable improvement in picture quality and sharpness. Getting back to the Polk sound, I noticed that the dialogue through the center channel was highly intelligible and more consistent than it was in my much pricier 5.1 system. I constantly find myself tweaking the center channel volume when moving from source to source or disc to disc, so this was a welcome change.
At this price point, an HDMI cable should be included. However, my biggest gripe with the SurroundBar 360 is the lack of a component or HDMI video input. Your only options are composite and S-video, which is lovely if grandma wants her VCR connected, but these won't help with video switching on an HD cable box. Also, the fast-forward speed when watching a DVD maxes out at 8X. Maybe I'm a bit spoiled, but I'm used to having the option of going to at least 16X.
Lastly, all-in-one Blu-ray home theater systems are coming down in price, so this product might have some stiff competition in that realm. Wouldn't you want HD video with your high-definition audio? I do, even at a higher cost. Perhaps that is for another product down the road.
I've really had a lot of fun with the SurroundBar360 DVD Theater, which speaks volumes. Home theater is about recreating the movie theater experience; it's also about escapism. The better the picture and sound, the more fun you're going to have. Polk certainly delivers in this regard and I can recommend this system with confidence. Many people are intimidated by the thought of connecting a home theater, but at the same time don't want the expense of hiring a dork, geek or nerd to install it. For those of you in the market for an easy to use, high-performance home theater solution that won't take up a ton of space, the SurroundBar360 should be on your short list. You'll be up and running in 10 minutes, regardless of your skill level.
• Read a review of the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama Soundbar by Sean Killebrew from HomeTheaterReview.com here.