PROS / The integrated Blu-ray player, 5.1-channel surround-sound and connectivity options are as close to perfect as we have seen in this category.
CONS / The system only has one HDMI port, and it's on the back panel.
VERDICT / This is the best home theater in a box system we reviewed, and it's a great buy you won't regret.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Of all the home theater in box systems we reviewed, the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System HTS3306/F7 leads the pack in features, performance and value. The system has every single feature we look for when we rank these products. It is sleek, stylish and on the cutting edge of home entertainment technology.
This home theater system not only has its own integrated Blu-ray player, but it also allows you to stream movies, television and music directly from the internet. Its pristine high-definition picture compliments the high-quality surround sound produced by its five speakers and subwoofer.
In a world where a high-definition picture reigns above all else, this home theater system provides crisp, clear HD images for all content presented in that standard. However, standard-definition content on media such as DVDs and some broadcast channels can't take advantage of all the pixels on a high-definition monitor or television. To combat this problem, the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System employs 1080p upconversion technology. This feature scales standard-definition images into a high-definition signal that your HD television or monitor recognizes and displays at its full capacity. Keep in mind that this technology doesn't transform SD images into HD, but merely scales them to fit an HD screen.
One of the inherent problems with scaling standard-definition images onto a high-definition format is that the picture often looks distorted and skewed. To correct this problem somewhat, the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System uses progressive scan technology to eliminate much of the visual artifacts and warped picture that happens when you scale an image to a larger resolution. The result is a crisper, clearer picture for standard-definition content.
Every movie theater presents films in a format called 24fps. This simply means that you are watching the movie at 24 frames per second. This format is what gives movies that cinematic feel associated with watching films in a movie theater. This Philips home theater replicates this look and feel for movies by displaying them in the same 24fps format you find in the theater.
Another reason the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System takes the top spot on our side-by-side comparison chart is the fact that it includes its own integrated Blu-ray player. Many home theater in a box neglect to include any player whatsoever, focusing merely on the sound produced by their speakers. The omission of an integrated player on these lesser systems means that you are forced to buy a third-party player and then connect it to the home theater system. Not only does integrated Blu-ray player eliminate that inconvenience, but it also ensures that all the settings and features are optimized with the system's hardware for an outstanding home theater experience.
The system's integrated player plays Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and CDs. However, we are fast moving into a world where many or most of the television shows, movies, music and videos we watch are stored online or in the cloud. The Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System is capable of connecting to the internet and streaming content from services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora and many more, directly through the system's AV receiver to your screen and through your speakers. This ability puts the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System on the edge of 21st-century entertainment technology.
One more feature worth mentioning in the video department is video-switching feature. This feature allows you to select video from several different sources. Chief among those sources is your cable television or internet service. Additionally, if you have a peripheral device such as an iPod or computer connected to the AV receiver, you can switch this home theater system to receive video from that device as well.
Receiver and Connectivity
A crisp, clear, beautiful high-definition image has little entertainment value without the rich surround sound that goes along with it. The Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System offers five top-of-the-line speakers and a subwoofer that booms sound at a quality unmatched by any other system on our side-by-side comparison chart.
The speakers included in this home theater in a box system consist of one center speaker, two front speakers, two satellite speakers, and a sub-woofer. The AV receiver contains a small microphone that detects where you place each speaker in any given room. This technology optimizes the surround sound for any configuration or placement of the home theater's speakers.
The Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System utilizes 5.1 channels of surround-sound technology. Most content you'll play on this system only takes advantage of five of these channels.
This home theater in a box system is compatible with every version of Dolby Digital sound. Whether your film, TV show or video uses Dolby Digital, Digital Plus, Pro Logic II, True HD or DTS, the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System possesses the technology necessary to play them all flawlessly. The versatility of the sound system on this home theater system can't be overstated.
Help & Support
The Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System has every connectivity feature we look for when evaluating home theater systems. HDMI has become the must-have connection feature for any HD machine. The back panel this system has such a port. The single flaw in this system is that it only possesses one HDMI port that is located on the back panel. The system would be much improved if it had multiple HDMI ports with at least one on the front panel for easier access.
Analog ports found on the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System's connectivity array include component, composite and coaxial. These analog connections allow you to connect devices that utilize these standards, which have been around for decades, and will be around for years to come. It is not only wise, but also necessary, for Philips to include these options on its home theater in a box system.
The Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System also has ports specifically designed for devices that connect via USB. This means you can insert a thumb drive or an external hard drive into this home theater system and play content directly from its flash memory.
This home theater in a box system also has full wireless capability. The ability to connect the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System to a wireless network means that you don't have to be physically wired to an internet connection to stream content from online sources.
The Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System is fully compliant with iOS devices. The system has a special port for connecting iPhones, iPods and iPads. Therefore, you can play any content stored on those devices right on the system's HD screen. This is convenient for playing movies and music you have synced from iTunes to your iOS device.
With one exception, the Philips Blu-ray Home Theater System HTS3106/F7 is a flawless home theater setup. Picture, sound and connectivity all have the right parts and perform their assigned tasks perfectly. We would like to see more than one HDMI port in a more accessible part of the machine. Other than that, this home theater in a box system is the standard-bearer for all other systems in this category.