Surround Sound, what to get...

Consider your budget and how big of an audio enthusiast you are.  There are two main choices when selecting an audio system: separate units or HTIB's.

HTIB stands for Home Theatre In a Box.  These systems are generally the all in ones where one unit has a DVD player, tuner and receiver built into one with good looking speakers to match.  HTIB's are great for the entry level customer with a limited budget.

The key advantage with HTIB's is the price; they range from 200 to below 700.  The aesthetics is another selling point; they look great and generally will match the looks of the same brand name television.
The disadvantages include the option to upgrade, sound quality and limited inputs.  Sound quality is decent depending on which specific unit you are purchasing but just be advised that there are much better systems out there.  Don’t place too much value on the demo provided by retail chains. 
More importantly, the option to upgrade also disappears when you decide to go with a HTIB.  Due to the fact that everything is built into one unit, if you decide to upgrade the DVD player, it’s not like you can simply pull out the old one and add in the new one.  Let’s say you want better sound, it’s not possible to simply upgrade the receiver or speakers since the built in amplifier is designed to power the accompanying speakers and visa versa.  If you decide to add new items like a PS3 or an Xbox, the system may not have inputs for additional items.  Basically you are stuck and will need to purchase a whole new system.

The alternative is to get everything separately.  Sound quality will be a lot better compared to HTIB's and you can generally find speakers to match the decor of your room or TV.  A decent sounding system will probably start at around 800 and will go as high as you are willing to go.  So price is definitely a concern when it comes to purchasing everything separately, but when considering the options that are open to you, it may be worth it.  When you have separate units, it’s easy to upgrade.  If you want to change your DVD player, simply remove the old one and add in the new one.  When purchasing a receiver by itself, it usually has numerous inputs for components which mean you are not limited by the number of items to connect.  If you want better sound, you can upgrade the speakers and/or the receiver without having to change the other.

My personal choice is to go with separate components, but if budget or space is a concern, adding a HTIB will definitely enhance your TV/movie experience.

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