Sony HT-7000DH HTIB

  • $500
  • XM ready with included XM Connect & Play antenna
  • Component setup, so upgrading is easy
  • Adjust the setup with Digital Cinema Auto Calibration and the included microphone
Sony's HT-7000DH is a component-style 5.1-channel home-theater-in-a-box. It includes a receiver (STR-K7000), a five-disc carousel DVD player (DVP-NC85H), four satellites, a center-channel speaker, and a subwoofer. The speakers have a black faux-wood finish. Aesthetically, there's nothing about them that stands out, so they should blend in easily among bookcases and shelving units. The DVD player upconverts over the HDMI connection to 720p or 1080i. It can read all DVD video formats, as well as VCD and JPEG. Being a Sony, it can also play SACDs. As for other audio formats, it is limited to CD, CD-R, CD-RW, and MP3 playback.

The receiver is a separate component and has a multitude of different inputs and outputs. For high-quality video, there are two HDMI inputs (presumably, one is for the DVD player) and three component inputs. You can connect digital audio via one coaxial or two optical connections. You can then use the included microphone and Sony's Digital Cinema Auto Calibration system to set up the audio balance. This is useful for someone who doesn't fully understand decibel tweaking but still wants a decent soundstage. I would still recommend using a decibel meter and your own ears if possible.

The HT-7000DH's most intriguing aspect is that it's XM Satellite ready. It comes with everything you need to start listening to a whole host of radio stations. Well, maybe not everything—you'll still need that pesky subscription.