Suppliers are loading up their popular home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) systems with such features as DVD changers, DVD/VCR combos, and SACD playback.
Here's what dealers will find at CES:
Acoustic Specialties: The $399-suggested 5.1MS packs Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding into a hideaway module that also houses all system power and an 8-inch subwoofer. The module is packaged with five flat-panel speakers based on NXT's distributed-mode technology. The satellites measure 11.5 by 9.5 by 1.5 inches. The startup is based in Hopkins, Minn.
Audiovox: Of two new DVD-receiver-based systems, one is the company's first HTiB with DVD/VCR-receiver. That model, the $499-suggested VD1400HT, features single DVD, Dolby Digital and Pro Logic, and 200-watt amplification. The non-VCR model, the $449-suggested DV1600, is the company's first HTiB with digital amplification. It features Dolby Digital and Pro Logic II.
Coby: Two new DVD-equipped systems include the $199-suggested DVD909 with DVD-receiver, five satellite speakers, subwoofer, MP3-CD playback, and 300 watts. It's available now.
The DVD404 features only two speakers and is expected to hit a suggested $99. It's due in the first quarter.
JVC: Four new DVD-equipped systems will expand the company's DVD HTiB selection, which will include the company's first changer-equipped DVD-receiver-based systems.
Of the three new DVD-receiver systems, two will feature five-disc changers. One of the three features four floor-standing speakers.
Another new HTiB system, the QP-ES5, features a separate DVD-Audio/Video player and will replace a current system with a DVD-A/V player. The new model adds larger satellite speakers to provide smoother transition between the satellites and subwoofer.
Price and ship dates were unavailable.
Kenwood: Five new receiver-based systems include the company's first two with 6.1-channel Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES decoding. The 6.1-channel systems, which come with separate DVD player, are priced at a suggested $500 and $600 and are due in May. The other systems lack DVD and are priced from $300-$500.
All of the systems feature Active EQ by DSP circuitry. It uses digital equalization and filter technology to overcome the low-frequency limitations of small speakers and to tailor the electronics to each system's specific speakers, improving accuracy over the entire audible range, the company said.
The company already offers two DVD-receiver systems.
Nakamichi: The brand's most affordable 5.1-channel system is the $2,999-suggested three-chassis SoundSpace 8 1/2. It ships in February with single-disc DVD player, Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1-channel decoding, Dolby Pro Logic II, and MP3-CD playback. Speakers comprise two powered subwoofers and five compact two-way satellite speakers with optional wall-mount kit.
Onkyo: The brand will expand its 6.1-channel HTiB selection beyond a current $999-suggested model with separate five-disc DVD changer. The opening price on a 6.1 HTiB will go to a suggested $500 for a DVD-less model, to a suggested $700 for model with separate single-disc DVD. The company will launch its first HTiB equipped with six-disc changer at around a suggested $800. The changer will be separate from the receiver.
Philips: All new systems equipped with DVD receivers will be five-disc models, and the company plans to launch its first two systems with SACD/DVD-Video players. Details were unavailable.
Pioneer: A new Pioneer-series system with five-disc DVD-receiver, the 5.1-channel HTD-330DV, ships in April. It lacks DVD-Audio playback.
The 330DV brings progressive-output Pioneer systems down to a suggested $499 from a current $1,000 for a system with separate DVD and receiver, DVD-AV playback, and 6.1-channel Dolby Digital EX/DTS ES decoding.
Late last year, the company launched its first Elite-series HTiB with SACD/ DVD-A/V player and DD EX/DTS ES decoding and its first Pioneer-series systems with DVD-A/V players and EX/ES decoding.
Samsung: Three new DVD-equipped systems include the company's first with five-disc changer. Another model is the company's first with DVD/VCR combo, featuring Quasi S-VHS playback. All are DVD-receiver-based systems featuring progressive output, MP3-CD and JPEG-CD playback, Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II.
The line start with the $329-suggested HT-DB300, then hits $399 for the five-disc model. The $549 model features S-VHS/DVD combo.
Sharp: The company is expanding its selection of home theater systems with 1-bit digital amplification to three models with the introduction of the SD-AT1000 and SD-AT1000DV, due in May at suggested retails of $499 and $599, respectively.
They join the $799-suggested DVD-equipped SD-AT50, shipping since November and replacing an $1,800 system. All are 5.1-channel systems with Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II decoding.
The SD-AT1000DV features slim but separate DVD player and receiver. The 1000 lacks the DVD player. Amplification is 5x100 watts plus a 100-watt subwoofer.