Philips HTS8140 Ambisound Home Cinema System Review - Philips HTS8140 Ambisound Review

In terms of how the thing fits together, you attach your power supply and some of your AV inputs to the subwoofer, with a single ‘umbilical cord’ then feeding power and AV info from the sub to the soundbar. Then there are a variety of connection options for taking pictures out of the DVD player in the soundbar and onto your TV or projector.

This means that many people will be able to get by for the majority of the time with just two cables emerging from the soundbar – a nice, tidy state of affairs that will likely be especially appreciated by people hanging the soundbar on their wall.

Looking in more detail at the system’s connections, the subwoofer provides both coaxial and optical digital audio inputs, two separate stereo audio inputs, an FM antenna for the built-in radio tuner, and the supply jacks for the umbilical cord. Meanwhile the soundbar provides an HDMI output, a component video output, an RGB SCART output, a stereo TV audio input and, on the front, an iPod dock connector, a USB and a line-in.

Handily the iPod dock is actually supplied with the soundbar; there’s no need to buy a separate unit. It’s also nice to find included as standard an HDMI cable, a SCART cable, an line-in cable, an FM antenna, and even the wall mounting bracket. Truly our cup runneth over!

Let’s turn our attention now to what exactly the HTS8140 is capable of playing. On the video side, it’ll handle DivX 3.11, DivX 4.x, DivX 5, DivX 6.0, DivX Ultra, MPEG1, MPEG2, and WMV 9, while disc formats can be DVD-Video, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, Video CD/SVCD, CD-R, and CD-RW. As for audio formats, MP3 and WMA are both supported, though AAC sadly is not on the menu, meaning you can’t encode tracks to your iPod using Apple’s preferred compression standard.

Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Pro-Logic II and DTS are all supported from DVDs, of course, and finally, JPEG stills can be played from CDs, DVD+R/+RW drives and USB storage devices.

Delving now into the HTS8140’s onscreen menus, a number of other interesting picture talents come to light. Heading these up is a video upscaling engine capable of turning your standard def DVDs into 720p, 1080i or 1080p high definition. What’s more, this upscaling engine is supported by Faroudja’s acclaimed DCDi processing, particularly renowned for removing the jagged, blocky look to contoured edges that blights many upscaled images.

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