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Home Theater & A/V

Best Home Theater System

Right now it’s easier than ever to find high-quality and affordable options for a home theater system bundle. All of the following picks are from well-established and trusted brands known for their higher-end offerings. Although none of the following home theater systems are neither suitable for large spaces nor likely to impress audiophiles, they’re perfectly adequate for casual use in a small home theater setup.

Important features we looked for are quality components to ensure good audio and video quality, as well as any features such as video upconversion. Connectivity is generally less important on these budget-friendly systems, with manufacturers striving to make setting the devices up as simple as possible over allowing for too much customization. However, modern home theater systems ideally have WiFi, a USB port, and sometimes also Bluetooth and DLNA capabilities.

Overall, each of the following selections is an affordable way to bring powerful surround sound and good video quality to your home without the complicated process of having to build your own system.

Samsung HT-H5500W Home Theater System

Samsung HT-H5500W Home Theater System

The HT-H5500W home theater system offers an affordable way to have Samsung quality and ease-of-use in your home. This system features a 5.1-channel setup, with wireless rear speakers to avoid needing to run wires from the front of the room to the back. The installation process is simple, with only minimal setting up required, especially if you already have a WiFi-equipped Samsung TV.

It’s worth nothing that the HT-H5500W doesn’t include any HDMI inputs, which may have a negative impact on connectivity depending on your other equipment. However, this affordable system focuses primarily on being extremely simple to install while offering solid overall performance.

The unit offers built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, support for Blu-ray discs and 3D content, and the ability to access online apps for streaming music, movies, and more. Image and sound quality are both good for the money, and the included remote control is easy to use. Overall, this home theater system is a good choice for those who want simplicity and ease-of-use.

Onkyo HT-S3700 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker Package

This home theater-in-a-box system from Onkyo represents the base model in their home theater system lineup for 2014. The HT-S3700 offers a 5.1 channel setup rated at a total of 660 watts of power, while having connectivity and output quality that stands out for its price range. Although this system doesn’t feature built-in WiFi, Bluetooth capability for streaming from a smartphone, tablet, or computer is included. AirPlay capability can be added with the addition of the Onkyo DS-A5 dock.

Another way the HT-S3700 stands out is its Zone 2 preamp output which allows for expanding into a multi-room setup. Onkyo has also included a generous six HDMI 2.0 inputs and a single HDMI output for further connectivity, while the rear-panel USB port allows for accessing music from a USB flash drive. The HT-S3700 is fairly basic, but its primary strength is its use of high-resolution audio processing for excellent sound output. If sound quality on a budget is your primary concern, this home theater system is a very good choice.

Sony BDV-E3100 5.1 Channel 3D Blu-ray Disc Home Theater System with Built-In Wi-Fi

The Sony BDV-E3100 home theater system has enough power to annoy the neighbors with 1000 watts RMS total. This home theater system features a 5.1-channel speaker setup and included Blu-ray player with video upconversion and built-in WiFi. The BDV-E3100 is very simple to set up, although those who want to expand the system should take note that the speaker wires are hardwired to the speakers. Like most affordable home theater bundles, the BDV-E3100 is primarily for those who value plug-and-play simplicity over the ability to customize.

This system offers good overall sound quality, while video upconversion and I/P noise reduction contributes to solid video quality as well. Built-in WiFi allows for streaming online content from Netflix, Pandora, and more, while Bluetooth streaming and DLNA file sharing are included as well. This system supports 3D content provided that you have a 3D-capable television. A front USB port and single HDMI output are also included.

Panasonic SC-BTT465 Home Theater System

The Panasonic SC-BTT465 home theater system offers good sound quality for the money and all the smart content most modern consumers want. The 5.1 channel speaker setup includes a wireless subwoofer and two tallboy speakers, which offer the primary advantage of not needing additional stands or wall mounts. The Blu-ray player supports 3D content, and is smart enabled to allow for connecting to the internet for streaming of music, movies, and more. Although WiFi isn’t built in, an option adapter is available.

Bluetooth connectivity is included to allow for connecting your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The SC-BTT465 also offers a single HDMI output and a USB port. Although the speakers can sometimes be a hassle to fit into a small space, the Panasonic SC-BTT465 is extremely easy to set up and use. It offers very good sound and image quality making it a solid, affordable choice.

Samsung HT-H4500 5.1 Channel 500 Watt 3D Blu-Ray Home Theater System

The Samsung HT-H4500 is an exceptionally affordable way to add a home theater system to your home. Although this system features 5.1 channels, 500 watts of power, video upconversion, and built-in apps, it’s only suited to a smaller room, as it lacks the power to adequately serve a large space. The HT-H4500 also lacks built-in WiFi, and needs to be hardwired to the router to use features such as the built-in apps for streaming online content. However, built-in Bluetooth is included, allowing for connectivity with devices such as a smartphone or tablet.

For those who don't mind having to run a few wires, this is one of the most affordable options that still offers solid overall sound and video quality. The included Blu-ray player supports 3D content (with a 3D television of course) while offering video upconversion to improve the appearance of lower definition content. A single HDMI connection is included, as well as a remote control and FM antenna. Despite lacking any wireless components, the Samsung HT-H4500 is very easy to install and delivers solid, basic performance.

Bose Lifestyle 525 Series II Home Entertainment System

The Bose Lifestyle 525 Series II offers top-notch performance and convenience for those willing to pay the price. Even on sale, this home theater system is typically around $2,000 but it uses high-quality components and technology to ensure the best sound performance for your home theater.

The Lifestyle 525 Series II is very easy to install, and includes a guided setup that walks you through each step. It even verifies that all of the connections have been made properly to make tracking down problems painless. Meanwhile, the ADAPTIQ audio calibration system allows the sound output to be easily customized to best fit your room.

The system allows for connecting and controlling up to six HD video and music sources (such as your own 3D Blu-ray player or a gaming console), and offers HD video upconversion. For those willing to pay extra for the added convenience of this system, it produces excellent sound quality and overall performance.

Samsung HT-F9730W 7.1-Channel 1330Watt 3D Blu-Ray Home Theater System

The Samsung HT-F9730W uses two large tower speakers to act as four speakers, creating an effective 7.1-channel surround sound experience. Output offers plenty of power with 1330 watts total and the resulting sound quality is very good.

This home theater system is extremely simple to set up, with calibration tools making the actual installation and optimization truly a painless process. Wireless rear speakers also prevent the need to have to run wires from the front of the room.

This system features 3D Blu-ray disc playback and full access to streaming content using the built-in WiFi. Bluetooth and DLNA connectivity are also included, allowing for the pairing of devices such as smartphones to your home theater system.

The HT-F9730W provides 4K upconversion, two HDMI inputs, and a single HDMI output. A USB port allows for more connectivity options. The Samsung HT-F9730W offers excellent user-friendliness and performance for the money.

Onkyo HT-S9400THX 7.1-Channel Network A/V Receiver/Speaker Package

The Onkyo HT-S9400THX immediately stands out for its THX certification as Dolby and Audyssey sound processing, ensuring excellent sound quality rivaling more expensive setups. This system offers 1035 watts total of power, with 7.1 channels to provide a true surround sound experience in addition to four 3D-ready HDMI inputs, and HD video upconversion using Qdeo technology. A single HDMI output is included, as well as a front-panel USB port to easily play music from a USB flash drive.

The HT-S9400THX includes analog inputs for older components and multiple connectivity options for customization and expansion of your setup. Although this system focuses primarily on high-quality output over features such as built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, it does have DLNA support for music streaming and a powered Zone 2 output for multi-room capability. The Onkyo HT-S9400THX delivers quality and performance difficult to find at this price point, making it an excellent overall value for a home theater system.

LG BH9431PW 1460W 3D Blu-Ray Theater System

The LG BH9431PW home theater system offers excellent sound quality and smart TV capabilities that are easy to set up right out of the box. The BH9431PW includes 5.1 speakers, but LG claims that the extra tall vertical speakers create an effective 9.1 channel experience. The system has plenty of power, with 1460 watts in total; definitely enough to annoy the neighbors.

Built-in Wifi and Bluetooth are included, as is DLNA capability and a USB port. The BH9431PW can accommodate 3D Blu-ray discs, and includes multiple apps for streaming movies, music, and browsing the web; this home theater system can effectively turn a "dumb" TV into a "smart" one.

Two HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output are included, and the system is capable of video upconversion to ensure your content matches the HD capabilities of most modern TVs. For the money, this home theater system offers a tremendous about of performance and features.

Sony BDVN7200W 1200W 5.1 Channel 4K Hi-Res Blu-ray Disc Home Theater System

This 5.1 channel home theater system from Sony offers 1200 watts of total power for strong audio performance. The BDV-N7200W includes almost all the features you'd expect with built-in WiFi, both DLNA and AirPlay support, built-in Bluetooth, and easy installation that walks you through the set up process. The rear speakers and subwoofer are wireless cancelling the need to run wires across the room.

The BDV-N7200W has a dedicated receiver that plays Blu-ray discs and supports 3D content, as well as being able to stream audio and video and upconvert low-resolution content to HD. Two HDMI inputs are also included. Overall, the Sony BDV-N7200W performs well, with very good picture and audio quality, as well as fast load times and convenience. When equipped with a suitable HDTV, this home theater system is a great choice for overall use, with excellent performance and numerous features.

Onkyo HT-S9400THX 7.1-Channel Network A/V Receiver/Speaker Package

The Onkyo HT-S9400THX immediately stands out for its THX certification as Dolby and Audyssey sound processing, ensuring excellent sound quality rivaling more expensive setups. This system offers 1035 watts total of power, with 7.1 channels to provide a true surround sound experience in addition to four 3D-ready HDMI inputs, and HD video upconversion using Qdeo technology. A single HDMI output is included, as well as a front-panel USB port to easily play music from a USB flash drive.

The HT-S9400THX includes analog inputs for older components and multiple connectivity options for customization and expansion of your setup. Although this system focuses primarily on high-quality output over features such as built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, it does have DLNA support for music streaming and a powered Zone 2 output for multi-room capability. The Onkyo HT-S9400THX delivers quality and performance difficult to find at this price point, making it an excellent overall value for a home theater system.

Samsung HT-F9730W 7.1-Channel 1330Watt 3D Blu-Ray Home Theater System

The Samsung HT-F9730W uses two large tower speakers to act as four speakers, creating an effective 7.1-channel surround sound experience. Output offers plenty of power with 1330 watts total and the resulting sound quality is very good.

This home theater system is extremely simple to set up, with calibration tools making the actual installation and optimization truly a painless process. Wireless rear speakers also prevent the need to have to run wires from the front of the room.

This system features 3D Blu-ray disc playback and full access to streaming content using the built-in WiFi. Bluetooth and DLNA connectivity are also included, allowing for the pairing of devices such as smartphones to your home theater system.

The HT-F9730W provides 4K upconversion, two HDMI inputs, and a single HDMI output. A USB port allows for more connectivity options. The Samsung HT-F9730W offers excellent user-friendliness and performance for the money.

Sony BDVN7200W 1200W 5.1 Channel 4K Hi-Res Blu-ray Disc Home Theater System

This 5.1 channel home theater system from Sony offers 1200 watts of total power for strong audio performance. The BDV-N7200W includes almost all the features you'd expect with built-in WiFi, both DLNA and AirPlay support, built-in Bluetooth, and easy installation that walks you through the set up process. The rear speakers and subwoofer are wireless cancelling the need to run wires across the room.

The BDV-N7200W has a dedicated receiver that plays Blu-ray discs and supports 3D content, as well as being able to stream audio and video and upconvert low-resolution content to HD. Two HDMI inputs are also included. Overall, the Sony BDV-N7200W performs well, with very good picture and audio quality, as well as fast load times and convenience. When equipped with a suitable HDTV, this home theater system is a great choice for overall use, with excellent performance and numerous features.

Onkyo HT-S3700 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker Package

This home theater-in-a-box system from Onkyo represents the base model in their home theater system lineup for 2014. The HT-S3700 offers a 5.1 channel setup rated at a total of 660 watts of power, while having connectivity and output quality that stands out for its price range. Although this system doesn’t feature built-in WiFi, Bluetooth capability for streaming from a smartphone, tablet, or computer is included. AirPlay capability can be added with the addition of the Onkyo DS-A5 dock.

Another way the HT-S3700 stands out is its Zone 2 preamp output which allows for expanding into a multi-room setup. Onkyo has also included a generous six HDMI 2.0 inputs and a single HDMI output for further connectivity, while the rear-panel USB port allows for accessing music from a USB flash drive. The HT-S3700 is fairly basic, but its primary strength is its use of high-resolution audio processing for excellent sound output. If sound quality on a budget is your primary concern, this home theater system is a very good choice.

Denon DHT-E251BA 5.1 Home Theater System with Boston Acoustics Speakers Bundle

Denon is generally considered to be a high-end brand, so a home theater system that includes one of their AV receivers is a welcome sight in this price range. The DHT-E251BA home theater bundle consists of the Denon AVR-E200 receiver and Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS speakers. This results in a 5.1-channel setup with a total of 1075 watts of power and discrete amplification, making for powerful surround sound.

Color-coded speaker terminals and matching color cable tags help make system installation extremely simple. The receiver features four HDMI inputs, with one on the front panel for 1080p and 3D passthrough. There’s also a 3.5mm stereo input jack on the front panel for connecting portable devices. Although this home theater system lacks wireless connectivity, it offers excellent value and quality for the money.

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