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Today’s Show:

Home Theater “In a Box” 2011

As you know, we typically are not big fans of Home Theater in a Box (HTIB) systems. In years past we’ve decided to put our own “box” systems together, complete with TV, Blu-ray player and the audio system as well. Last year we had a $10,000 system and a $5,000 system. This year, with prices going the way they have, we decided to be even tougher on ourselves and try to produce a complete system for $1,500 or less.

Braden’s System

We didn’t have to look any further than the 2011 HDTV buying guide for the LG 42LV4400 42-Inch 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV. It’s a great bargain TV with all the features you need from an LCD. It wasn’t too long ago that a 42” TV was considered big in any Home Entertainment room. Sure, now it might be competing with the bigger sizes, but not for that price. But at $499, we’ve just swallowed up one third of our budget, leaving only $1000 for everything else.

Next step in the process is audio; we need a receiver. For that, we’re going to go with the Onkyo TX-NR609 7.2 Channel Network THX Certified A/V Receiver. It is one of the best bang for the buck receivers on the market. Impressive features, easy to use and it sounds great too. It is Network capable, THX Select 2 Certified, supports HDMI 1.4 in case you want to go 3D some day, and even has apps available for iPod and Android. All that for only $390.

Of course a receiver is pointless without speakers. The general rule of thumb is that you want to spend half of your total budget on speakers. After the TV and receiver, we can’t do that anymore, and we still have to leave enough room for a Blu-ray player. So we’re going to have to scale it back just a bit. Instead of half our budget, we’re going to spend about one third, or $481 on the KEF KHT1005.2GB 5.1 Subwoofer Satellite System with KUBE-1 (Gloss Black). Legendary KEF performance and technology in a small package and a small price.  Excellent option for our box setup.

Now we’re left with around $130 to spend on our Blu-ray player so that we have content to play back on the awesome audio and video system we’ve assembled. We want to make sure it supports internet apps so we don’t have to add a dedicated streaming box in the future. With that much budget, we’re sure to find something, and we decided on the LG BD670 3D Wireless Network Blu-ray Disc Player with Smart TV. It comes in just under budget at $109.  It has wireless built right in, streams everything you need and supports 3D. Great price for all those features.

Total cost for the components is $1479. Of course this doesn’t cover cables, a box for Cable or Satellite TV, a universal remote, etc. But we did leave enough room in the budget for some popcorn!

Ara’s System

I went with the solid but budget minded 42 inch Vizio E420VA. Its a classic 1080p LCD with no real bells and whistles. It will run you $540. A little on the steep side for the $1500 limit we put on ourselves but a TV that will give you many hours of pleasure watching it.

For the receiver I chose the Yamaha RX-V671 at $500. This is a very capable 7.1 unit sporting all the next generation features you would want:

  • HD Audio
  • iOS integration
  • HDMI 1.4a (3D and Return Channel)
  • Pandora, Sirius, Rhapsody, DLNA
  • 6 HDMI inputs

I typically have a JBL speaker system that I recommend for this segment each year. But for this year I changed it up because I have heard so many good things about the Energy Take Classic 5.1 speaker system. These speakers are normally priced at $600 but they are available now for $400 on Amazon or our store. They have an unheard of 5 star rating from 173 consumer reviews on Amazon. Both CNET and Audioholics have given the speaker high praise. Although I have not heard these particular speakers I have listened to other Energy products and have quite happy with the results. On a side note their parent company is Klipsch which we both have high regard for.

Since my TV didn’t have network connectivity I decided to go with a Blu-ray player that did. The Panasonic DMP-BDT210 has integrated WiFi so you can do Skype, Netflix, Vudu, and a bunch of other applications that are supported on Panasonic’s VieraCast. The Blu-ray player will set you back $130.

So there you have it. Ara’s complete home theater in a box for $1570. Oops! I went over by $70. If you want substitute Braden’s selection for a TV and I’m still over but by only $30. As Braden said don’t forget cables and remote control. So in actuality your $1500 system will actually cost you close to $2000. A great deal when you consider my first Home Theater in a box cost me $1100 and that was just the receiver and speakers! Just for completeness my first system cost me:

  • 50 inch Samsung DLP $4,400
  • Yamaha HTIB system $1,100
  • Sony DVD Player $300

Total cost $5,800!
Within three months I swapped out the speakers for another $900 so the actual cost was close to $7,000!

Download Episode #509


Posted by The HT Guys, December 15, 2011 11:31 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.