Philips Cineos HTS9800W review

A wireless solution to cable chaos?

Our Verdict

Offers a good combination of style and performance - highly recommended

For

  • Design

    Picture

    Sound

    Future-proof

Against

  • Takes up space

    Still a lot of cables

Going for an all-in-one system doesn't mean you have to miss out on the high-definition revolution. With its wireless rear speakers, this Philips system also has the answer to trailing cable embarrassment.

Certainly this is the package to go for if you have plenty of space and demand lots of welly. Once set up it all looks very smart, with little afterthoughts like an illuminated disc slot supplying the finishing touches.

But with the provision of a centre rear speaker, a breakout connector box, and a wireless receiver box for the rear speakers, there are actually a lot of boxes and cabling. You might start to wonder at this stage why you don't just go the whole hog and get a separates system.

One of the first all-in-ones to offer Dolby Digital EX 6.1 surround sound processing using wireless rear speakers, the HTS9800W is designed to partner a high-definition flat TV.

The system consists of the main DVD unit, three front speakers with spring clip cable connections, a trio of wireless rear speakers connected to a receiver box, and a subwoofer. Both the main unit and the flat-panel speakers have a sleek flat design, which means they can be freestanding or wall-mounted. To make it easier to use the main unit wall-mounted, the disc drive is slot-loading.

The slick design of the main unit incorporates touch screen controls with backlit keys. The faceplate is prone to fingermarks, but thoughtfully a cleaning cloth is provided. Connections include HDMI, progressive scan-enabled component video output, RGB Scart output and digital coaxial input. The remote is a smart and weighty silver chunk with illuminated source indicators.

The flat-panel speakers use ribbon tweeters with Neodymium magnet assemblies, with two 3in woofers covering the midband. The subwoofer has a 6.5in cone claimed to work as low as 30Hz.

Apart from compatibility with DVD, DVD /-R/RW, (S)VCD, SACD, MPEG4, CD-R/ RW, MP3, WMA/MP3-CD and JPEG CDs, the unit boasts video upscaling to 720p and 1080i. Its digital amplifier claims an 800W total RMS output across the 6.1 channels, and features Dolby Digital EX, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II decoders. Adjustment modes are fairly basic, limited to channel levels, surround delay adjust and some preset DSP modes.

Excellent picture performance from efficient upscaling delivers a lot of detail without introducing excessive noise. Colour is solid and realistic, and contrast strong.

Equally, sound performance is surprisingly impressive - despite their size the rear speakers are a little underpowered, but this can be adjusted in the speaker level menus. Music performance is convincing too, and high volumes can be achieved without significant distortion.

This system looks fabulous, it's a good performer and it's well future-proofed; but it takes up a lot of space, and considering that the rear speakers require a receiver box which has to be connected to the mains, you might wonder whether their being wireless is worth anything. That said, this offers a good combination of style and performance. Highly recommended.