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Samsung Adds Docks, Bluetooth To New HTiBs

Soon after shipping the industry’s first home theater in a box (HTiB) system with Blu-ray Disc player in December, Samsung went to International CES with seven new DVD-based HTiB systems.

The seven included the company’s first sound-bar-style system, first six systems with stereo Bluetooth and first three systems with embedded iPod docks.

The company also expanded USB 2.0 inputs and HDMI CEC bidirectional communications protocol to its entire HTiB selection. HDMI CEC allows for one-touch turn-on of a home theater system built from multiple brands.

The Blu-ray HTiB, the $1,499-suggested HT-BD2, is an integrated model equipped with four tower speakers, two smaller back-surround speakers, a subwoofer, selectable 24/60 fps playback and 1080p up-scaling of DVDs. It decodes most surround-sound codecs approved for use on Blu-ray discs except for the DTS HD Master Audio lossless compression. It does, however, decode the DTS HD High Resolution lossy compression codec, the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec, Dolby Digital Plus and uncompressed multichannel PCM.

Among the seven new HTiBs being unveiled here, the BD-2 will share top-end pricing with the new $1,499 (street price) HT-TX500 “Freestyle” 5.1-channel system. The other models have suggested retails from $499 on up.

The Freestyle, due in February, features four slim towers, 1080p DVD up-scaling, HDMI CEC, and, like all the other new HTiBs, USB Host input to play MPEG-4 and DivX videos, MP3 and WMA music files, and JPEGs stored on a connected USB flash drive or portable MP3/video player. It will also connect and control iPods if connected through USB adapter cables, a spokesman said.

The company’s first home theater sound bar, the $699-suggested HT-X810, is a wall-mountable piano-black product with built-in single-disc 1080p up-scaling DVD player and wireless subwoofer. It also features stereo Bluetooth 2.0 to stream music from Bluetooth-equipped cellphones and MP3 players, HDMI CEC and USB 2.0. It ships in April.

Three 5.1-speaker HTiBs with five-disc DVD changers are the company’s first HTiBs with embedded iPod docks. They are the $379-suggested HT-Z510, $429 HT-Z512 and $479 HT-Z515, all due in March with different speaker configurations. The lowest-priced model comes with four small speakers, and the top model comes with four tall speakers. The middle product comes with two of each. All, however, offer stereo Bluetooth, USB 2.0, 1080p up-scaling, HDMI CEC, DVD-Audio playback and wireless surround speakers. All three are also XM-ready. Three HTiBs were also XM-ready in 2007.

The remaining two models are the $499 HT-X710 virtual-surround system with 2.1 speakers and the 5.1-speaker version, the $599 HT-X715. Both ship in April with single-disc slot-load DVD player and compact chassis that can be placed horizontally or vertically. Both also feature stereo Bluetooth, HDMI CEC and USB Host. The virtual surround model features 400 watts of amplification, and the 5.1-speaker version comes with 800 watts of amplification and wireless-ready surround speakers.