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Choosing the Right System

Shopping for an HTiB system involves determining your price range as well as the individual features you want in a system. And you're not limited to low-end systems; some HTiB packages sell for upwards of $1,000 and offer true high-fidelity sound.

The most affordable HTiB systems fall in the $300–400 range. These systems typically offer smaller speakers and lower-power amplifiers than what you find in more expensive systems, but are sufficient for most users. You'll find total system power in the 500 watt range (not counting the subwoofer), with front-channel power at 50–60 watts/channel.

All of these systems will have five front and surround speakers, plus a separate powered subwoofer. The speakers are likely to be smaller satellite-style speakers, which are easy to mount on a wall or place on a stand or bookshelf.

Typical HTiB systems in this price range include Samsung's $299 HT-DS610 and Sony's $399 HT-4800DP. If you already have a DVD player, you can go for a budget system that includes only the amplifier and speakers, such as Sony's $199 HT-DDW660 or Panasonic's $249 SC-HT05. Conversely, if you have a larger budget, you can choose from HTiB systems that offer better sound, more features, or easier setup—or some combination of the above.

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