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Best Home Theater-In-A-Box Systems

All-in-one Home Theater Systems are a great solution for modest budgets


Interested in setting up a home theater, but don't want to have to remodel your living room or deplete your finances to do it? Get in on the home theater craze with a minimum of hassle and cost with a home theater-in-a-box system (also referred to simply as a home theater system). Here are some of my favorite picks for low cost, all-in-one or home theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems. Just add your own TV.

NOTE: The product entries for Home Theater-in-a-box systems are updated periodically with new units and reviews to keep them current.

1. Onkyo HT-S9400THX Home Theater System

Onkyo HT-S9400THX Home Theater System
Photo (c) Onkyo USA

The Onkyo HT-S9400THX is a 7.1 channel home theater-in-a-box that is designed for those that don't want the hassle of buying speakers and a receiver, but still want higher-end features and performance not usually provided in most all-in-one systems. The included receiver not only features Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and Dolby Prologic IIz processing, but is also THX I/S Plus Certified for audio processing and loudspeakers to insure consistent, quality, performance and that everything in the system is both electronically and acoustically matched.

The HT-S9400THX is also 3D and Audio Return Channel compatible. However, it doesn't stop there. The HT-S9400THX also incorporates Marvell 1080p and 4K video scaling, and network connectivity that allows access to internet streaming content, as well as content stored on compatible PCs and media servers. For more details and perspective, read my HT-S9400THX Product Profile.
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2. Yamaha YHT-899U 5.1 Channel 3D Network Home Theater System

A photo of the Yamaha YHT-899U Home Theater-in-a-Box System
Photo © Yamaha Corporation of America
Yamaha's approach to home theater-in-a-box systems is pretty logical; combine a dedicated home theater receiver with one of several speaker system designs and "voila!", you have a system that is affordable and upgradable on either the receiver or speaker end, if that is needed.

The YHT-899U is a great example of this approach. Yamaha combines its RX-V475 5.1 channel home theater receiver with a 10-inch 100-watt Subwoofer and center/satellite speaker system, that features two slim profile floorstanding front speakers.

For video the system provides both 3D and 4K resolution pass through (no upscaling).

Also, in addition to the audio and video basic, the YHT-899U also includes access to Pandora Internet Radio as well as content stored on DLNA compatible devices connected in your home network.

However, there is more. Apple AirPlay, is included to access to iTunes via Apple compatible devices and PCs. Also, the receiver also has an MHL-compatible HDMI input for accessing audio and video files from compatible smartphones and tablets. In addition, both Wifi and Bluetooth functionality can be added to the system using Yamaha's YWA-10 and YBA-11 USB plug-in adapters.

Although Yamaha provides a remote control, you also have the ption of using your smartphone via a free AV controller app (iOS version - Android version).

The Yamaha YHT-899U Home Theater System is definitely worth a look and listen.
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Also available, the YHT-799U and YHT-699U. These two systems include the same home theater receiver, so the audio, video, and internet/networking features are the same. However, the YHT-799U is packaged with trapezoidal-shaped bookshelf speakers, but the same 10-inch subwoofer as the YHT-899U, and the YHT-699U is packaged with a set of front floorstanding speakers, with a slightly different design that the ones provided with the 899U, and a more compact 6-1/2 inch subwoofer. Compare Prices for the YHT-799U - Compare Prices for the YHT-699U.

3. Samsung HT-F9730W Home Theater System Featuring Vacuum Tube Technology

Based on the success of its previous HT-E6730W Vacuum Tube-equipped home theater system, Samsung is back with its second generation systems featuring a vacuum tube-based pre-amp stage for the front left and right channels, adding warmth to home theater surround sound audio, as well as for two-channel audio CD listening.

This system also includes a 3D-enabled, 4K upscaling-capable Blu-ray Disc player and 7.1 channel audio system with thin profile front tower speakers, wireless surround speakers and subwoofer, and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. Also, this system features built-in WiFi for access to a host of internet content (via Samsung Apps), including Hulu Plus, Netflix, Pandora, and more. You can even access content from your iPod/iPhone and other compatible portable devices. The Samsung HT-F9730W features a lot of cutting edge features with a nod to the pre-solid state era of audio performance.
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Also Available: Samsung HT-F6500W - This system features the same vacuum tube audio technology, 3D viewing options (no 4K upscaling), and Internet streaming functions as the HT-F6730W, but instead of a 7.1 channel configuration with "tall boy" front speakers and height channels, the HT-F6500W provides a more traditional 5.1 channel configuration with bookshelf speakers all-around with wireless surround speaker setup, and has a more modest sized subwoofer.
Compare Prices for the HT-F6500W.

4. Vizio S5451w-C2 5.1 Channel Sound Bar Home Theater System

Vizio S5451w-C2 5.1 Channel Sound Bar Home Theater System
Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The Vizio S5451w-C2 combines a 54-inch wide sound bar with a wireless subwoofer and a pair of surround channel speakers. The sound bar houses the left, center, and right channel speakers supported by built-in amplifiers. The sound bar also has a wireless transmitter for sending bass and surround sound audio signals to an 8-inch wireless subwoofer that also powers and provides audio signals to the surround speakers, which connect to the subwoofer via RCA audio cables.

With HDMI, analog, and digital audio inputs, supported by Dolby and DTS decoding, the Vizio S5451w-C2 provides 5.1 channel listening experience for movies, and with the addition of Vizio's Surround Matrix Processing an enhanced surround sound listening experience is provided for both movie viewing or music-only listening. Wireless Bluetooth is also included for accessing music wirelessly from compatible portable devices, as well as a USB port for accessing music stored on flash drives.
Review - Photo Profile - Offiical Product Page

5. Panasonic SC-BTT490 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

The Panasonic SC-BTT490 Blu-ray Disc Home Theater System really packs it in. The Blu-ray Disc player section not only plays both 2D and 3D Blu-ray Discs, but can perform real-time 2D to 3D conversion (3D TV required for 3D viewing). You can also control the actual depth the 3D image to your comfort level. Additional features include built-in Skype capability (additional webcam required) and WiFi for wireless access to your home network and the internet. Online content from services such as Netflix, Vudu, and CinemaNow provides a broad selection of movies to watch that you may not have on Blu-ray Disc or DVD.

On the audio side, the BTT490 combines 5.1 channels of amplification with very stylish and thin floor standing speakers for the front channels. The SC-BTT490 also provides a 3D Cinema surround function which projects sound from the speakers vertically as well as horizontally for a more immersive listening experience that is a great complement for 3D movie viewing. Another audio convenience is the incorporation of Audio Return Channel function that can simplify the audio connections with a compatible TV. Give the SC-BTT490 a look and a listen.
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6. Yamaha YHT-399U 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

A photo of the Yamaha YHT-399U Home Theater-in-a-Box System
Photo © Yamaha Corporation of America

The Yamaha YHT-399U is a basic home-theater-in-a-box system that combines the HTR-3066 3D/4K pass-through compatible 5.1 channel receiver (70 wpc - rated from 20Hz to 20kHz with 2 channels driven), with a 100-watt 8-inch Subwoofer, and compact center/satellite 5 channel speaker system. This system provides good sound for both movies and music. In addition, the receiver section includes 4 HDMI inputs, on board Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, additional surround sound processing modes, and iPod/iPhone connectivity via USB. The Yamaha YHT-399U offers practical features and great performance for the price.
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Also available, the YHT-599U, featuring slightly more power output, similar compact bookshelf-style speaker system, but more compact subwoofer, but also adds network connectivity and internet streaming.
Compare Prices for the Yamaha YHT-599U

7. Onkyo HT-S3500 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

The Onkyo HT-S3500 is a baisc Home Theater System consists of a 5.1 channel home theater receiver combined with 5 compact bookshelf speakers and an 8-inch downfiring passive subwoofer with front mounted port. The included receiver provides 4 3D and Audio Return Channel-compatible HDMI inputs, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio Decoding, and several audio processing modes, including a Music Optimizer for enhancing sound from portable digital players. iPod connectivity is provided by a front mounted USB port. Compare Prices

8. Onkyo HT-S6500 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

The Onkyo HT-S6500 comes with a 5.1 home theater receiver (HT-R758) featuring Dolby TrueHD/DTD-HD Master Audio Decoding, Zone 2 operation via external amplification, four bookshelf satellite speakers, a compact center channel speaker, and one 10-inch 120-watt subwoofer. The HT-S6500 system provides 3D compatible HDMI switching with InstaPrevue (six inputs and one output) as well as USB input for iPod/iPhone/Flash Drive plugin, as well as access to internet radio and music services, including vTuner, Pandora, Spotify, and Rhapsody. Also, to make setup and use easier, this system includes the Audyssey 2EQ automatic speaker setup system, as well as Audyssey's Dynamic Volume and EQ. If you are looking for a home theater system that offers a lot of flexibility, and sounds better than your typical home theater-in-a-box system, check out the Onkyo HT-6500.
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9. LG BH9420PW 5.1 Channel 3D Blu-ray and Network Home Theater System

LG is a well-known name in video, with its Plasma and LCD TV and PC monitors, but they also have a line of great sounding home theater-in-a-box systems. The LG LHB976 has some very practical features you might like.

First off, the LG BH9420PW features 5.1 channel amplifier speaker configuration with stylish floor stand speakers for the left and right front channels and wireless compact bookshelf surround speakers. In addition, the system incorporates a 3D-enabled slot loading Blu-ray Disc player and also provides 1080p upscaling for standard DVD. Also, with growing popularity of iPods/iPhones and USB flash drives, the BH9420PW comes equipped with an iPod/iPhone connectivity and USB port for listening to music, photo, and video files.

However, the big bonus is network connectivity, via Ethernet or WiFi, that enables the BH9420PW to access media content stored on a PC or stream media content from the internet from providers such as Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, Pandora, and more.
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10. Onkyo HT-S5600 7.1 Channel Home Theater System

The Onkyo HT-S5600 comes with a 7.1 home theater receiver (HT-R592) featuring Dolby TrueHD/DTD-HD Master Audio Decoding, Dolbly ProLogic IIz processing, four bookshelf satellite speakers, a compact center channel speaker, and one 10-inch 120-watt subwoofer. The HT-S5600 system provides 3D  compatible pass-through HDMI switching with (four inputs and one output) as well as a USB input for iPod/iPhone/Flash Drives. Also, to make setup and use easier, this system includes the Audyssey 2EQ automatic speaker setup system, as well as Audyssey's Dynamic Volume and EQ.

The system also includes both speaker connections and a preamp line output option for Zone 2 operation. NOTE: You cannot run the powered Zone 2 output option and 7.1 channel main system operation at the same time. If you desire both a main room 7.1 channel configuration and 2 channel second zone operating at the same time, you need to use the Zone 2 preamp outputs in conjunction with an external amplifier, and additional speakers.

One bonus, however, it that Bluetooth functionality can be added via the optional UBT-1 USB Adapter. If you looking for a basic home theater-in-a-box system, with some expandability, definitely consider the Onkyo HT-S5600.
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