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Top five home-theatre systems

T3 India | Updated on August 17, 2011

Home Theatre systems   -  Business Line

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Blu-ray surround sound systems come in all shapes and sizes, from cheap one-boxers to decadent separates that attract coos of delight from everyone including your credit card provider. All-in-ones should offer better VFM and easier setup than separates, although arguably not quite such good performance

Feature packed

Samsung C6730W

Samsung's 1,330W, 7.1-channel system includes a sleek Blu-ray receiver that boasts super-sharp HD images and attractive tallboy speakers with stylishly ripped-open innards. Audio quality may lack the clarity and control of the Oh and Onkyo systems but it's no sonic slouch and the spec sheet is a home cinema A to Z – DLNA networking, USB playback, wireless rear speakers, built-in Wi-Fi, dual HDMI inputs and extensive format support – the only thing missing is 3D. For ease of use and breadth of features the C6730W is great value.

Love: Generous feature list. Decent picture and sound performance

Hate: Not 3D-ready

Rs 40,000

Performance points

Harman Kardon BDS 800

This Harman Kardon kit is reassuringly expensive, with slick design and performance to match. The BDS 800 offers clean, crisp HD audio with 65 watts per channel and tight bass from the 200W sub; the reproduction of audio detail shames cheaper systems. The HD visuals from the Blu-ray drive are similarly awesome. Concentrating on performance the BDS 800 offers little in the way of extra features beyond a USB port – there's no media streaming, web access or HDMI inputs. You do get really great surround sound, though.

Love: Highly impressive performance and build

Hate: High price, no HDMI in

Rs 90,000

Budget buy

Panasonic SC-BTT350

This 1,000W, 5.1-channel system plays 2D and 3D Blu-rays with pristine picture quality and streams media wirelessly from any PC – albeit via a dongle. It also offers online content, with YouTube and Picasa widgets on VieraCast. There's a built-in iPod dock, plus an SD card slot and digital audio input. There is however no HDMI and sound quality is disappointing – sharp, shouty and lacking in bass punch. The basics seem to have been overlooked on this budget system and you won't exactly fall in love with its clunky, boxy looks either.

Love: Plenty of bonus features, 3D-ready

Hate: Unappealing looks, mediocre sound

Rs 26,000

Back to basics

Teufel Impaq 3000

Teufel's first Blu-ray system is a curious one with a surprisingly light spec list. There's no media streaming, internet access or 3D. Instead, what you pay for is the robust quality and design of the 5.1 speaker system and connections, including two HDMIs, a USB port and iPod dock. That's no bad thing in theory, but the Impaq doesn't deliver performance. The 600W speakers occasionally sound harsh and the 150W subwoofer is too overpowering for them. These are flaws for which even the brilliantly crisp Blu-ray pictures can't quite compensate.

Love: Build quality and design, dual HDMI inputs

Hate: Harsh sound, lacks modern features

Rs 45,000

Top of the line

Onkyo BD-SP308, TX-SR608 and Oh by Tutundo

And now for something completely different… We've teamed the mind-bogglingly pricey Oh by Tutundo 5.1 system with the more reasonably priced Onkyo SR608, an AV receiver with six HDMI inputs, and the BD-SP308 Blu-ray deck. The Oh's five 80W, mic-stand-like speakers and beefy 200W sub suck every bit of detail from the SR608, providing detailed, powerful and finessed audio that all-in-one systems simply can't compete with. The price tag reflects this, clearly.

Love: Remarkably good sound and picture quality

Hate: Bothersome price

Onkyo: Rs 42,000; Oh: Rs 4,20,000

Published on May 18, 2011

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