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Now home theatres for Rs 11,000!
Surajeet Das Gupta in New Delhi
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August 26, 2005

If you thought home theaters were only for the rich and famous who had money to splurge and a large enough room to create a mini theater, there's hope yet.

Thanks partly to the Korean aggression and partly the technological innovation drive, home theaters (which include the speakers and the DVD system) are now available at amazingly cheap prices, which are as low as Rs 11,000 to Rs 25,000, a sum that's virtually what you pay for a mini hi-fi stereo system.

Of course, if you're a connoisseur of home theatres, used to BMW or Bose speakers and audio video receivers from Denon, Rotel or Onkyo, stop right here.

These cost around a lakh rupees, and are out of the budget as far as this week's column is concerned. But if you have a modest house (where there is no space for a mini theater until you convert your bedroom into one), this column's for you.

Samsung has an amazing range of products to offer within the Rs 25,000 range. The cheapest model in the market is the HT-DS110/DS 100. The five speakers and the woofer offer you 255 watts of sound power and come with a DVD, which offers Dolby digital sound. And you pay only Rs 10,900 -- if you haggle a bit you could also get a better price.

If you are looking for something slicker in design, go in for the HT-P10 for which you pay Rs 2,000 more -- the speakers are black in colour and look much more contemporary. The system also offers 255 watts of audio power and comes with the standard DVD, MP3 player and CD-R playback.

The best, though, is to spend a bit more and go for the HT-TP33. The home theater has many pluses. It comes with stylish tallboy speakers, which enhances the look in your home. The sound is much better than the other models we've just talked of, and does not break even if you play it at the top volume.

It offers total power output of 500 watts, which is more than enough for even a spacious room. A big plus in this is that the model also comes with a USB port, so you can play attach the system to your PC instead of the TV set. And the price tag is Rs 24,000.

For those who do not like the long wires to install the two rear speakers, and face a problem in identifying the right location for them to get the surround-sound experience (a home theater has five speakers, three in front, two at the rear and a subwoofer on the ground in the front), Samsung has an innovative answer.

The HT-RP16 comes with Samsung proprietary technology called Rear Reflecting Surround System. In this home theater, the rear speakers join the front speakers in one enclosure but they still offer surround sound effect to the consumer.

The RRSS is simply a unique sound reflection technology, which is able to create a realistic rear speaker sound from a combined enclosure. The product is available at Rs 15,000. But the sound seemed a bit metallic to me and frankly does not offer the same effect as a surround sound through the traditional rear speakers.

For the die-hards who believe the only technology worth the name has to be Japanese, there are some very interesting offers from Sony, and the good news is that Sony has dropped prices of its base home theater models.

The dealer told me that the price of the DAV-SB 100 has fallen only a few days ago. The price on the company's website for this basic product is at Rs 19,990, but the dealer quoted a price of Rs 17,990. The product comes with 330 watts of combined audio power, offers a DVD, DVD-R, CD-R, MP3 playback and a bass boost function. The sound is pretty OK for the price.

The product, which impressed me more was the DZ200 for the sheer quality of sound. The power is an impressive 720 watts, and there's an FM radio and all the other frills. The system looks stylish with tall speakers with an adjustable height. The price: Rs 24,990.

LG offers products at various price points. The basic model LH-T 6240 costs only Rs 13,990, but has no real audio power at 185 watts. In any case, at the same price point, you can get products with better and more powerful sound quality.

The other home theatres LG hawks are the LH-D6246 (Rs 16,000), the LH-T6445 at Rs 18,000 and the LH-T-6540 at Rs 20,000. I tried the 6445, which has a power output of 285 watts and frankly was not bowled over by its sound.

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