Top 10 Home Cinema – November 2012

11/21/2012 2:44:43 PM

Description: Description: Description: Sony BDV-N590

The new BDV-N590 isn’t good – we’d bet there won’t be a more complete, better-value home cinema system released this year. It’s more stylish than its forebears, its PS3-emulating curves incorporating a side-mounted disc-loading slot plus touch-sensitive controls. It’s also exceptionally well equipped for its price, with twin HDMI inputs, a USB-in for an iPod dock and analogue and digital ins. Picture and sound quality are excellent, whether you’re playing a 3D Blu-ray or streaming from the extensive array of built-in smart services, including the new BBC Sport app.

Killer feature

The ability to ‘throw’ web pages from your phone to your TV

Our Ratings: 5/5 stars

Massive spec, yet micro-priced: the Sony is quite simply the biggest bargain in home cinema

Yamaha YSP-2200 $1135 55 stars

Description: Description: Description: Yamaha YSP-2200

Smaller and easier to install than Yamaha’s older Digital Sound Projectors, the YSP-2200 delivers a genuinely immersive surround experience from just a single speaker and separate subwoofer. It’s well-equipped, easy to set-up and simple to use, too.

Panasonic SC-BTT590 $713.5 5/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: Panasonic SC-BTT590 $713.5 5/5 stars

An excellent all-rounder, this Panny has excellent picture quality and immersive surround sound. Its Connect smart portals is respectable too, with iPlayer, Acetrax, Netflix and more. It’s not the flashiest-looking, but that’s its only flaw

Samsung HT-E8200 $810.9 5/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: Samsung HT-E8200 $810.9 5/5 stars

A true king of convenience, this is a 3D Blu-ray-playing, smart-TV-streaming, HDMI-switching soundbar par excellent. Admittedly, the wireless sub can overstate itself a bit, but the overall sound quality and feature set make this a bargain at the price

Yamaha YSP-4100 $1297.5 5/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: Yamaha YSP-4100 $1297.5 5/5 stars

Replacing Yamaha’s much-admired YSP-40D, the ’4100 adds onboard HD audio decoding for Blu-ray, wireless streaming of audio from iPod and, if you want more bass without cable cluter, a wireless subwoofer option. Lovely rounded sound, too.

LG BH220B $640.5 4/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: LG BH220B $640.5 4/5 stars

The aluminium-look LG stands apart from the black plastic herd, and it’s well specced, with a capable 3D Blu-ray drive and a new. Tuller Smart TV package featuring Acetrax, BlinkBox, LoveFilm and Netflix. A slight lack of bass weight is the only drawback

Philips HTS5563 $543 4/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: Philips HTS5563 $543 4/5 stars

The Philips has a lot going for it: it’s compact and attractive, its picture quality is a good as you’ll get at this price, and it’s particularly effective with surround panning from speaker-to-speaker. But its online offering is merely average, and it’s not the thing for big rooms

Samsung HT-E5530 $494.5 4/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: Samsung HT-E5530 $494.5 4/5 stars

Looking to fill a big room with sound? The Samsung’s tallboy front speakers and meaty subwoofer will do the job. It’s well-specced too, with an excellent Smart Hub portal. Pity, then, that the surround sound presentation isn’t particularly well=integrated

Harman/ Kardon BDS 570 $1216 4/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: Harman/ Kardon BDS 570 $1216 4/5 stars

This shoebox-sized Blu-ray player/ receiver bridges the gap between separates-style kit and less-capable all-in-one systems. Its picture and sound quality are fine, though it needs more streaming capability to really compete. All the same, it’s a neat idea

Orbitsound T9 $324.5 4/5 stars

Description: Description: Description: Orbitsound T9 $324.5 4/5 stars

The T9 could be confused with an iPod dock, but Orbitsound insit it’s a soundbar – and the combination of an AV-friendly optical input and spatial stereo sound make it hard to argue. As a sound-per-pound proposal, it’s impressive, especially in smaller rooms.

Instant expert

Tony Horgan He’s got you surrounded

Given all the complexity of all those decoding doodads and processing whatnots, it’s no surprise that most home cinema receivers can make for iffy hi-fi setups. However, NAD’s traditionally tune-oriented buyers demand something a little different, and that’s what the company’s delivered with its new T 787 receiver ($4859.5, with a massive seven-channel design, it features not one, but two toroidal power supplies – with one dedicated to the front speakers alone – all to ensure your music moves you as it ought. The T 787 also sports NAD’s modular architecture, allowing for upgrades over the lifespan of the product via plug-in boards rammed with upgraded video components, DACs, socketry and so on. Clever – and reassuring, given how much it costs

“This AV receiver has twin power supplies for super-boosted tunes”

What to look for

1.    Number of speakers

This depends on aesthetics and, of course, the tolerance of those you live with, but if you’re buying with an eye on the future, note that 6.1 and 7.1 movies will gradually become more common.

2.    Amp abilities

Cinema-in-a-box comes with an amp, thus reducing under-telly clutter. Don’t fixate on wattage ratings – audio quality is far more important than volume

3.    DVD or Blu-ray?

Almost every Blu-ray spinner will also play DVDs, so investing in a Blu-ray set-up may be worth it long-term.

4.    3D

Many TVs support 3D, so consider a 3D-ready home cinema – whether it can play 3D discs itself, or pass the content to your telly

5.    Compromise

If domestic bliss relies upon a lack of surround speakers, consider ‘cheat’ surround (such as a sound bar) – but get a friendly dealer to let you try before you buy


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