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Samsung HTiBs Get Virtual Surround, Hard Drives, DVD-Audio, HDMI

In an HTiB selection that the company is expanding to six SKUs from two, Samsung plans to offer plasma-friendly speakers, DVD-Audio and an HDD music jukebox for the first time.

Samsung will also expand its selection of systems with proprietary virtual surround technology, called rear reflecting surround system.

All new 5.1-channel electronics/speaker systems feature compatibility with CD-R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, Dolby Pro Logic II decoding, progressive output, one component-video input, and playback of MP3-, WMA- and JPEG-encoded discs. The lineup starts with the 5.1-channel $299-street priced HT-DS610, which features five-disc DVD-receiver with DVD-Audio. It ships in February.

Next is the single-disc $499 HT-DS490, due in March with Bluetooth-wireless surround speakers. The surround speakers are wired to a small Bluetooth-equipped module that receives surround information from the Bluetooth-equipped DVD-receiver. It features multiple technologies collectively known as Super Digital Sound Master (SDSM). They consist of the proprietary Virtual Headphone, which delivers 5.1-channel surround through any pair of headphones; 10 digital soundfield modes; and automatic set-up of channel levels, channel delay times and room-acoustics correction.

Two new 5.1-channel systems with rear reflecting surround systems are the $599 HT-DS660 and the $599 HT-DS660T. Due in March, they will supplement a current system with the technology. Both new models feature five-disc DVD-Audio/Video changer and SDSM. Each comes with center-channel speaker and two left-right speakers, which use DSP and angled drivers to deliver the surround channels. The 660 comes with small left-right bookshelf speakers and an outboard-powered subwoofer. The 660T features left-right tower speakers, each with built-in powered subwoofer.

In plasma-style 5.1-channel systems, Samsung plans February shipment of the $1,299 HT-DS1000, which features four narrow, floorstanding speakers, active subwoofer, and thin floorstanding DVD-receiver with vertical-loading transport visible behind a glass door. It plays DVD-Audio discs and features HDMI video output. Another plasma-friendly system, the $1,499 HT-DB1850T, is due in February with four cylindrical tower speakers, a horizontal and cylindrical center channel, a subwoofer, and a DVD-receiver with HDMI output that upconverts video to HD.

The HDD-equipped system, the HT-DS800, isn’t due until August, and pricing and features were still to be finalized, But at a minimum, it will include single-disc DVD-Audio/Video player, 80GB HDD, and MP3 and WMA music-file storage and playback. It also decodes MPEG-4 video downloads transferred from a PC. Samsung wasn’t certain whether it would include PVR functionality.

In March, Samsung plans to ship a $299 two-chassis home theater solution, which consists of a slim-line DVD-Audio/Video player and separate slim-line receiver with Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES decoding.

Also new: a two-channel “Bedroom Theater” DVD microsystem with cassette, single-disc DVD player, 2×30-watt amp, two-way wood speakers, and a compact 50-watt subwoofer. It ships in January at $249 suggested retail.