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Vchat20
Landing is the REAL challenge
Premium
join:2003-09-16
Columbus, OH

Cheap HTIB with optical input?

Long story short here: I am usually a quality minded person but at this point I am budget strapped and merely looking for something that will get me over the hump from the crappy TV speakers in the ~6 year old Hitachi plasma set in our primary movie viewing room to 5.1, obviously quality not too huge of a concern unless somehow it manages to fall below the TV's speakers. And it has to at least have an optical input for this.

With that said, the way I see it is going the HTIB route. DVD or Bluray doesn't matter since the primary disc source will be the PS3 feeding it. We have enough media devices in the house, disc or otherwise, that the playback functions of the HTIB will be completely unused and unnecessary.

A simple AV receiver would be nice, but the main concern here is budget and keeping this as cheap as possible. And taking into account that speakers would also be needed in addition to the receiver (most entry level models I have seen are receiver only and rely on you purchasing the speakers and sub separate), I can't see it ending up cheaper than a low end HTIB. Though I'd love to be proven wrong!

Just with a 5 minute look I found these 3 on Amazon which reportedly offer optical inputs although the Samsung looks very promising at the price point.
»www.amazon.com/RCA-RTD3133-Home- ··· cal+htib
»www.amazon.com/RCA-RTD3133H-Home ··· cal+htib
»www.amazon.com/Samsung-HT-C550-H ··· cal+htib

Main reason I am jumping into the 5.1 realm now is with The Avengers coming out the end of September and already have the Blu-Ray on pre-order (with the pre-requisite TV calibration I still need to do!), I feel 5.1 is necessary for this movie.
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I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz


Dogg
Premium
join:2003-06-11
Belleville, IL
Reviews:
·Charter
I'm partial to Onkyo myself, although I've not used any HTiB models. A quick search turned up this model with good reviews: »www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3300-5- ··· cal+htib

Also, as you mention Blu-ray, to take advantage of the high quality audio tracks present, you may want to invest in a model which supports the HD formats.
--
Google is your Friend


Vchat20
Landing is the REAL challenge
Premium
join:2003-09-16
Columbus, OH
Thanks. I actually didn't realize Onkyo made some budget 'All-in-one' models. That pretty much changes my gameplan. Onkyo really is one of the better, if not best, Home Theater brands out there IMHO but personally relegated them to the higher end market in terms of cost as well as true receivers in general.

The 3300 looks amazing in a cost to feature ratio. Will definitely have to keep tabs on it here in the next few weeks and jump on it when I have the chance.
--
I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz


Vchat20
Landing is the REAL challenge
Premium
join:2003-09-16
Columbus, OH
reply to Vchat20
So I just pulled the trigger on the HT-S3400. Accessories4less had it Onkyo refurb'd for ~$200 with shipping costs. Did enough research and it does pretty much everything I need and has ample HDMI inputs (Uverse box, PS3, and WDTV HD for now. May add in the Xbox later). Since I have the WDTV, the USB port on the 3500 isn't necessary and is the only difference I could find over the 3400.

Should arrive Friday and will throw in my personal review.
--
I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz


Dogg
Premium
join:2003-06-11
Belleville, IL
reply to Vchat20
Cool. Let us know how it works out.
--
Google is your Friend


Vchat20
Landing is the REAL challenge
Premium
join:2003-09-16
Columbus, OH
reply to Vchat20
A little late but have had enough time to sit down and 'review'.

Really cannot complain at all. Albeit my only personal comparison is the TV's built in speakers and some very short use of an old Creative Inspire 4.1 speakers. Really does give it that big theater sound which is nice. Not too overpowering in any aspect if set right but can be pushed and still handles itself. Case in point playing Split Second on the PS3 which really exercises the sub to say the least. Also surprised at music quality on this thing. Usually you see reviews where surround systems are good at movies but not music or vice-a-versa. This seems to be real flexible in that respect.

So far test material has consisted of such:
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol DVD (Standard DD5.1 soundtrack, bitstreamed from PS3)
Numerous movies aired on TV with 5.1 audio. A couple on FX and a lot on the premium channels
Split Second game via PS3 (5.1 PCM)

Cool features I have noticed that have made this a nice buy:
1) HDMI-CEC control. Although the connected TV does not support it (The 42" Panasonic in the family room has it but is not being used with the receiver), the PS3 does. With a quick 2 second reprogram of the remote, it allows control of the XMB and media playback functions via the receiver remote over HDMI with no extra hardware like an IR dongle. VERY handy. Even handles powering on and off via remote without needing to touch a controller.
2) Universal Port with an optional HD Radio module and possibly even wireless speakers if I am reading the manual right. The former is one of those things that would be far from a regular use but if prices come down I would not make a second thought on purchasing it. I already own an in-car HD receiver and a portable one and am fairly impressed by the technology with the stations in the area and think it would be a nice compliment to this receiver.

Overall I am very happy with the purchase and don't really have any cons to speak of. Other than the included speakers (I should note, having the ability to swap them out is a big plus for down the road) being a tad big especially on the front channels and lacking a little bit of high end in the out of the box configuration (I believe I have the treble setting at +2 or +4 db, everything else is at 0), not anything I can really complain about.
--
I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz

Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Vchat20
Good that it worked out.

A great thing about these types of HTIB systems is that since it appears to use a normal tuner unit and normal speakers I imagine that down the road you could get new speakers or a new tuner unit without having to rebuy everything.
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[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports