Early this year, Philips did something rather clever. It took the cool – and popular – new idea of the ‘soundbar’ speaker system and stuck a DVD player in it. The result? The really rather enjoyable HTS8100 soundbar home theatre system. This system really did prove a terrifically elegant and compact way of bringing the world of home cinema into your living room – no matter how small or design-led that room happened to be.
It came as little surprise, then, when we heard that Philips was working on a new and improved version of the HTS8100, and we’re happy to say that the resulting product, the HTS8140, is sitting pretty on our test benches as we write. Also, when we say ‘sitting pretty’, we mean it. For rather cunningly Philips has decided to style the HTS8140 to match the gorgeous looks of its new 7603, 9603, and 9703 TVs. So, you get a sumptuous gloss-black finish emphasised delightfully by a groovy translucent ‘shroud’ that curves forward around the sound bar’s edges from its rear. We’ve seen cute sound bars before, but never one as cute as this. Especially as the light show put on by the DVD section in the soundbar’s middle delivers just the right blend of laid back subtlety and flash-Harry grandstanding.
Obviously the matching styling makes the HTS8140 an ideal match for Philips’ own TVs, especially the 42in models it’s sized to accompany. But we can confirm that it also looked very tasty indeed under both a 50in Pioneer plasma and a 140in projection screen, so don’t let its 42in optimisation put you off if you’ve got a screen that’s bigger – or even slightly smaller.
The HTS8140’s aesthetic quality isn’t restricted to the soundbar section, either. For the promisingly large subwoofer that ships with the HTS8140 is also beautifully put together, enjoying a lovely combination of gloss and matte finishes that make it more like a piece of furniture than a big old bass grunter. It was all we could do to stop ourselves putting our cups of coffee on it, in fact – and we certainly never once felt the urge to hide it behind the sofa.