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Today’s Show:

HT Guys Home Theater in a Box

There are so many Home Theater in a Box systems out there many of which cost less than $400. But seriously, what can you get for $400. A good center channel typically costs more than most HTIB systems on the market today. Each year we try to assemble a Home Theater in many boxes that we would be proud to show off in our homes. Our system will have at a minimum a HDTV, Blu-ray Player, Receiver, and 5.1 speakers, all for less than $2500.

For this feature we choose components that we either have direct experience with or have experience with a similar model made by the same manufacturer. When we can’t find something in the target price range for a particular component that we have experience with we use the reputation of the manufacturer and/or listener feedback.



VIZIO E601i-A3 60-Inch 1080p 120Hz Razor LED Smart HDTV ($999)
This one came straight from our HDTV Buying Guide from Episode 559. The name of the game when you’re shopping on a budget, as most of us typically are, is bang for the buck. You can’t beat this Vizio when you factor in size, features, quality and cost. The E-Series 60” has 1080p Full HD resolution with 120Hz refresh rate with smooth motion. It features an ultra thin profile and VIZIO Internet Apps with built-in Wi-Fi, but you won’t need the apps, because we’re going to get them in the Blu-ray player as well. Bottom line here, a high quality 60” TV.  ‘Nuff said.

Denon AVR-1912 7.1 Channel Network Streaming A/V Home Theater Receiver $457
You can save a little bit of money by going with last year’s model on this very capable Denon receiver. You don’t really give anything up by doing so. It has all of the same essential functionality with the quality you know you’ll get from a Denon product.

  • 7.1ch Network Streaming A/V Receiver
  • HDMI 1.4a 6In/1Out 3D Ready
  • AirPlay Ready
  • Discrete Power Amps rated at 90 watts each

Sony BDP-S390 Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi $88
We didn’t go for a 3D TV, so there’s no need to get a 3D Blu-ray player. This Sony model has all the features you need (Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, etc.) and a great price.

  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Full HD 1080p Blu-ray Disc playback
  • Media Remote app for iPhone/iPad & Android phones
  • With the Sony Entertainment Network, you can instantly stream a wide variety of online movies, videos, TV shows, and music from Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Hulu Plus and more.
  • Stream Unlimited Prime Instant Video with This Device: Amazon Prime members can stream over 30,000 movies and TV episodes at no additional cost

KEF KHT2005.3 5.1 Subwoofer/Satellite System with KUBE-2 (Gloss Black) $797
This is an amazing speaker system. In fact, if you buy it directly from Amazon, where it happens to be Prime eligible, you’ll pay $1399. But right now, buying from a different seller through Amazon, you can get the whole 5.1 system for under $800. I really wanted to get the KEF T105 Home Theater System, (which I use in my home), but couldn’t make it fit in my budget. If you have more than $2500 to spend, look into it.  But the KHT2005.3 is awesome.

  • 5.1 surround sound speaker system
  • Each satellite features KEF’s aluminum 100-millimeter (4-inch) Uni-Q drivers
  • Cast aluminum cabinets
  • 200-watt 250-millimeter (10-inch) powered subwoofer
  • Wall mounting brackets are included

Logitech Harmony 700 Rechargeable Remote with Color Screen $90
We had budget to spend, so why not tie all the other items together with a great, low cost, very versatile and functional remote like the 700? I use a couple of them in various rooms in my home and couldn’t be happier with it.

  • Rechargeable design keeps your remote charged and ready for up to a week – no batteries to buy or replace
  • Brilliant color screen displays favorite-channel icons and commands for easy selection
  • One-touch activity buttons automatically turn on all the right devices for instant access to TV, DVDs, music and more
  • Replaces multiple remotes with universal control of up to 6 different components
  • Supports virtually any home-entertainment component, including over 250,000 devices from over 5,000 brands

All in, we’re pushing right up against our proposed budget at $2431. Some of these items aren’t available via Prime, so there will be some shipping costs. Depending on where you live, you may have to pay tax on some of them as well.  We’ll have to leave the $69 cushion in the budget to cover those items, and maybe an HDMI cable or two.



Panasonic VIERA TC-P55GT50 55-Inch 1080p 600Hz Full HD 3D Plasma TV $1350
Ok so I blew more than half of my budget on the TV. Yes I went with plasma because dollar for dollar you won’t be able to beat the picture in this size.  The main reason I picked this TV was for the picture quality. It has deep blacks and fantastic color. It also is a smart TV if you are interested in that. Other features that make this a worthy purchase are:

  • Built in wifi
  • THX 3D Certified
  • Skype
  • DLNA

Sony BDPBX39 Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi $135
Every home theater needs a blu-ray player and back in the day this component would have blown about half the budget as well. The good news for today is that you get a blu-ray player that turns your TV into a SmartTV wirelessly. With this unit you can stream Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, HuluPlus and more and control it from an Android or iOS app.

Yamaha RX-V673 7.2-Channel Network AV Receiver $550
My receiver choice comes right off of our receiver buying guide. And why not you get so much for the $550. You get Airplay, Android/iOS remote control support, next generation audio, and automatic room calibration all in a great sounding receiver that won’t break the bank.

JBL CS6100BG High-Performance Complete 6-Piece Home Theater Speaker System with Brackets $400
This is the area that most home theater in a box systems cut corners on. While these speakers aren’t the best on the market they are considerably better than any HTIB speakers you can buy for $400. If you think about it, how much can the speakers in a $400 HTIB system actually be worth? These speakers look and sound great. But at some point down the road this would be the first thing to upgrade when you want serious room filling sound.

The total cost for my system is $2435. The TV, receiver and speakers are available via prime so there are no shipping costs. The Blu-ray player is showing a shipping cost of $7.99 at the time of this writing. That means the system comes in at $2443 + tax. Note: I felt no need for a Roku or AppleTV since both the Blu-ray player and the TV support most streaming functions. But if you have to have those it only adds at most $100.


Download Episode #561

Posted by The HT Guys, December 13, 2012 10:54 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.