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Buying a Blu-ray Home Theater System

Sony HTSS380 HT-SS380 3D Blu-ray Disc Matching Surround Sound System

Sometimes you just want simple. Buying a receiver, blu-ray player, and separate speakers and subwoofer can often be a difficult task. Will they match up well, will I have to get a unified remote control, multiple vendors to deal with if something goes wrong, hard to use. Fortunately there is an easy way out.

Blu-ray home theater systems

The Home Theater in a Box category (HTIB for short) has been around for quite a while. It is a great way to get an inexpensive and easy to set up surround sound system without needing a degree in rocket science. With these systems the audio video novice can walk out of a store with one box with speakers, Blu-ray player and amplifier all in one box. This not only makes shopping easier but usually makes set up easier too.

See 50 of our favorite Blue-ray Home Theater Systems in our Store

Advantages of getting a HTIB
  • One box to take home
  • One vendor to deal with if something goes wrong
  • Easy Setup
  • Easier operation (usually)
  • One Manual
  • One Remote to learn!
  • Matched components
Features to Consider When Purchasing a Blu-ray Home Theater System in a Box
  1. Do I want to listen to regular radio? Not all HTIB's have a tradational radio tuner included
  2. Do I want a Network compatible unit? With a Network compatible HTIB, you'll be able to access Internet entertainment like Pandora, Rhapsody, Slacker and thousands of Internet radio stations. Note that not all units get all content. Requires a WiFi network for wireless and some require a network cable. Choose carefully.
  3. Do I want a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system?
  4. What type of speakers do I want? Wall Mount, Shelf, Towers, Speakers on Stands?
  5. Is the subwoofer wireless?
  6. How big is the subwoofer and where will it go?
  7. Is the Unit 3D compatible?
  8. Does it have HDMI inputs for other devices like cameras and video cameras?
  9. Can I connect my iPod via cable or bluetooth?
  10. Is it AirPlay or DLNA compatible?
  11. Is there an app available to control the unit?
  12. What formats will the Blu-ray play?
  13. Price. Cheap is cheap. If you buy a $150 HTIB it will sound like one. Stick to the $350 and up combinations, idealy $499 and up would be better
Things Not to Worry about with a Blu-ray HTIB
  1. How many watts. If you are concerned about watts due to a large room, don't buy an HTIB, get a high quality receiver and separate home theater speakers
  2. Brand. Some brands are better than others but in general they will all perform fine if you stick with the major manufacturers
  3. Subwoofer size. This is another issue of room size. If you're truly concerned about subwoofer size you might not want a HTIB
Getting the most our of your system

Like with any home theater setup you'll get the most out of it if you setup the speakers correctly. Poor speaker placement will do more to harm the overall sound than anything else. Don't turn up the volume to earth and speaker rattling settings, you'll not only damage the speakers but your hearing as well.

For the most part you can find a decent home theater experience, with a blu-ray player and speakers without breaking the back. Just be sure to consider the options listed above to get the most our of your movie watching and music listening experience.

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