Home Theater in a Box is the term given to all-in-one audio systems usually consisting of a DVD player, audio receiver, surround sound amplifier, speakers and a sub-woofer. HTiB systems can range from quite inexpensive with modest power better suited to an apartment or small living room to well powered systems that can fill a large room.
I formerly had a Koss HTiB unit in my living room setup and it performed quite well and suited our needs at the time. However I found the DVD player to be a bit lacking so instead I used a Toshiba progressive scan DVD player bypassing the integrated Koss DVD player. So take note that while HTiB systems can be economical - their performance can be a trade-off for their convenience.
Usually looked upon with disdain by audiophiles and elite home theater enthusiasts, HTiBs can offer convenience for those less familiar with high performance audio sytems. Some of the better makes of HTiBs can give quite respectable
performance. Manufacturers such as Panasonic, Pioneer, Kenwood, Onkyo and Sony all have fine models of HTiBs that offer credible performance. And Philips just won a Best of Innovation award at CES 2008 for their new miniature system the Philips BTD710.
Features to look for in an HTIB When shopping for an HTiB system you will want a model with a powered subwoofer and that sub channel should offer the most power of all channels. That's because low bass frequencies take more power to pump as high of a perceived equal sound pressure level as higher frequencies. For good performance you will want an HTiB that offers at least 60 to 100 watts per channel. Also look for low THD (total harmonic distortion) levels - .05% is a great rating - however you will not find many HTiBs with that low of a THD rating. You will also want to make sure the power rating is in the RMS format -- beware of the highly misleading PMPO power designation used by inferior systems. At 100W RMS per channel my Koss system is fine for our living room and fills it quite well even at levels far below its total power capability. You will also want to get a home theater in a box system with extra connectivity -- audio-video inputs and outputs for future expansion and adaptable to your future components. Those extra inputs should be digital for best performance -- the HDMI type interface would be a major plus. Most new video display devices are featuring HDMI which carries both digital audio and digital video on one cable to your set.
Onkyo released a line of three Home Theater in a Box systems that are both powerful and stylish. The best of the new models features HDMI switching, 7.1 surround and a 230 watt powered subwoofer. Read more about Onkyo's impressive new HTiB line here --- Onkyo's 2008 HTiB Systems