Walk into most Hong Kong living rooms and the first thing you'll notice is a flat-screen television. In most cases, they're mounted on the wall, looking impressively hi-tech and teasing you to switch them on.
Enter the Philips Soundbar HTS 8140 home theatre system. It measures 104cm across and is designed to be wall mounted (or placed) underneath a flat TV screen with a 42-inch screen or larger. When it's hooked up, the Soundbar (below) gives your TV a new dimension and adds an air of sophistication and grace to any living room.
The main unit and subwoofer are available in piano black and look good with Philips' HDTVs. With the brand's Ambisound technology, the Soundbar offers a 5.1 system in a convenient single unit by using angled speakers to simulate surround effects. If you like gimmicks, there are pictograms galore, depicting the various inputs and an LED display. Its most distinctive feature is an iPod-like ring that is the volume control.
The Soundbar comes with a load of other inputs, including a DVD player with touch-sensitive controls, an iPod dock, an AM/FM tuner, a USB input, and HDMI-CEC for controlling compatible devices via the HDMI output. Also available is a full complement of video features, including Faroudja DCDi, which makes pictures sharp and smooth.
Setting up the Soundbar is straightforward. It has a wizard that guides you through the process and asks questions such as, 'Is it in the corner of the room?' With its help, there's a clear improvement in sound.
To test it, we watched Japanese glam rock act L'Arc En Ciel's Live in Paris DVD in 5.1. Although we could tell we weren't hearing true surround sound, the concert was nonetheless immersive and enjoyable. The bass was a tad heavy from the subwoofers, but a bit of tweaking sorted that out. Playing music through the iPod was a dream. The great sound would be perfect for parties.
With a list price of HK$7,900, it's an impressive component that offers style and performance.