Last month John reviewed the Philips HTS8140 soundbar home cinema system and was thoroughly impressed by its sound quality and gorgeous design. Well now, we’re taking a look at its little brother, the HTS6100, which once again features a built-in DVD player and Philips’ proprietary Ambisound technology, which uses precisely angled speaker drivers and steerable sound beams to create virtual surround channels, allowing you to enjoy home cinema and surround sound in even the smallest of rooms.
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The HTS8140 was intended for 42in TVs but the HTS6100 is the first model designed for 37in sets, and its cheaper price means that it lacks some of the HTS8140’s bells and whistles, including Faroudja DCDi video processing and an integrated iPod dock.
Of course the main selling point of a product like this is the design, and Philips’ soundbars are by far the best looking on the market. The HTS6100 is utterly stylish all over, but the most eye-catching feature is the translucent panel on the front of the unit, which slides sexily to the right when you hit Open to reveal the disc drive. The touch screen controls found on the HTS8140 are missing from the front panel, replaced by a row of small silver buttons on top, covering functions like volume, power and source input.
The rest of the unit is styled in a smart black finish with a silver trim running around the edge, which isn’t quite as fetching as the translucent ‘shroud’ found on the HTS8140 but does give it a funky feel that compliments our Toshiba TV beautifully – but its true home is below one of Philips’ latest LCD sets, preferably mounted on the wall.
Also in the box is a subwoofer that’s a lot more stylish than your average bass box. It stands fairly tall, but the appealing black matte finish, elegant curves and silver feet mean you probably won’t want to hide it away – in fact you might be tempted to put a few books and a bowl of pot-pourri on top and use it as a mini coffee table.
Connections are plentiful, with sockets found on both the soundbar unit and subwoofer. On the soundbar itself you’ll find an HDMI output that can fire 1080p, 1080i, 720p and 576p or 480p pictures to a suitably-equipped TV. It’s backed up by an RGB-capable SCART output and component video output, plus stereo audio input for playing external sources through the system. Meanwhile on the back of the sub you’ll find a coaxial digital audio input and two more sets of stereo audio inputs, plus an FM antenna input for the built-in radio.