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Samsung 2013 Home Theater Systems: More Features Than You Can Shake A Stick At

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Samsung 2013 Home Theater Systems—now with TUBES!

Samsung 2013 Home Theater Systems—now with TUBES!

Summary

  • Product Name: 2013 Home Theater Systems
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Date: March 25, 2013 05:00
  • MSRP: $299 - $699
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now


HT-F6500W HT-F5500W HT-F4500W
MSRP $699 $549 $299
Power 1000w 1000w 500w
WiFi Yes Yes No
Smart Hub Yes Yes No
Bluetooth Yes Yes No
HDMI Input Yes Yes No
Optical Input Yes Yes Yes
Analog Input Yes Yes Yes
USB Input Yes Yes Yes
Wireless Rear Speakers Yes Yes No
Vacuum Tubes Yes No No
Woven Glass Fiber Cones Yes No No

Samsung’s home theater system lineup is pretty thin this year, consisting of only three models, the HT-F6500W, HT-F5500W and HT-F4500W. But there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s much better to make three good products than many mediocre products, and it looks like Samsung put in the time and effort on these new integrated receiver and loudspeaker systems.  

HT-F6500W – the "King of the Heap" - $699

The HT-F6500W is Samsung's top of the line home theater system, and is equipped with a ridiculous set of features for the price.  For starters, it has a vacuum tube input stage, which is supposed to add a warm sound and a high-end feel. To me it seems more like a gimmick than an actual effort at better sound quality. It’s true that vacuum tubes are used in high-end audio gear, but in those situations, the rest of the audio equipment is high-quality as well. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking the orange glow is generated from the tubes, it’s from hidden LED lights. With all that said, I still appreciate that Samsung is making a nod to the high-end crowd. I would love to see them continue with this trend and start offering nicer 5.1 and 2.1 systems with vacuum tube input stages. Maybe they'll even redesign their ever-upcoming Samsung flagship A/V receiver to use tubes.

The HT-F6500W also sports built-in Bluetooth and WiFi functionality. Bluetooth allows for music streaming directly from a portable device, and WiFi allows for an easy Internet connection in order to enjoy their new Smart Hub. Samsung’s new Smart Hub almost deserves its own article because of everything it can do, but let me sum it up quickly: It supports a huge library of apps (ex. Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN, etc…), full web browser (with optional wireless keyboard), AllShare Cast (mirrors phone/tablet screen onto TV), and S-Recommendation. That last feature actually learns your viewing habits and makes recommendations on what to watch in the future. Samsung’s Smart Hub is leagues ahead of the rest of the market.

Samsung HT-F6500

Samsung HT-F6500

But wait, there’s more! The $699 HT-F6500W also comes with wireless rear speakers (for a 5.1 system), built-in 3D Blu-ray player, two HDMI inputs, a dual core processor, Sound Share (2013 Samsung TVs can wirelessly transmit sound to the unit), and auto setup mic. I could knock the system for using plastic speaker enclosures, small drivers, and a passive sub, but that’s all par for the course. Very few HTIBs (home theater in a box) actually have quality speakers, the main focus is on features, and in terms of features the HT-F6500W is bursting at the seams. If you want a HTIB but don’t need all of the features (maybe you already have a Blu-ray player or wire ran for your rear speakers), some of the units from Yamaha, Denon, or Onkyo might offer better sound quality, but provide less features. I'm left with only one question: "If Samsung can pack all of this in a unit for under $700, why does the HW-F750 soundbar retail for more?"

HT-F5500W – the "Middle Child" - $549

The HT-F5500W is $150 less than the HT-F6500W, but manages to keep most of the features. You still have wireless rear speakers, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, 3D Blu-ray support, and full Smart Hub functionality. You lose the vacuum tube input stage, auto setup mic, and drop to a smaller set of front speakers. The front two speakers have a single tweeter and single midrange driver (as opposed to two midrange drivers in the HT-F6500W), and the cone material also appears to be lower grade (the HT-F6500W uses woven glass fiber). What this means is that the step down to the HT-F5500W is a drop in sound quality, as opposed to feature set. In short, if you're concerned with features, go with the HT-F5500W, if you're concerned with sound go with the HT-F6500W.

Samsung HT-F5500W 

Samsung HT-F5500W

HT-F4500W – the "Penny Pincher" - $299

The HT-F4500W is Samsung’s entry level home theater system, but for $299 (expect to pay closer to $249) it still includes a respectable amount of features. There’s no WiFi, but it can connect to the Internet via Ethernet and pull content from 11 different providers, including Netflix, Pandora, and Vudu. Although it can connect to the Internet, it doesn’t have the full Samsung Smart Hub, so you are limited to the 11 services it offers. For the majority of users, the most important apps are for watching movies or listening to music, and the HT-F4500W supports all of those major services.

It still retains a 3D Blu-ray player with DVD upconversion and a full 5.1 speaker system, but gives up the wireless rear speaker kit and downsizes the speakers from those included in the HT-F5500W.  It also loses the HDMI input and Bluetooth. Portable music players can still be hooked up via a USB port on the front, and an optical and analogue input on the back can be used for connecting a cable box or other device.

That’s about all there is to say of the HT-F4500W. You get a basic surround sound speaker system, Blu-ray player, and Internet functionality. For only $299, individuals who want the cheapest Blu-ray/home theater combo should take a serious look at the HT-F4500W. However, if you have the cash to step up to the other two models, or are willing to slowly build a surround system from separate components, we would recommend either of those two routes instead.

Samsung HT-F4500W

Samsung HT-F4500W

Conclusion

We feel the same about Samsung’s 2013 home theater lineup as we do with Samsung's 2013 soundbar systems. Each model has distinct features that should make choosing the right system easy for consumers. They packed in an impressive amount of features for the price—and most are very useful. We always recommend that people spend the time to piece together a nice surround sound rather than buy a package, but that's because the name of the site is Audioholics and not "Bobs-Budget-o-rama.com". But if you want an inexpensive all-in-one solution, the HT-F6500W, HT-5500W, or HT-F4500W are certainly solid candidates.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Cliff, like many of us, has always loved home theater equipment. In high school he landed a job at Best Buy that started his path towards actual high quality audio. His first surround sound was a Klipsch 5.1 system. After that he was hooked, moving from Klipsch to Polk to Definitive Technology, and so on. Eventually, Cliff ended up doing custom installation work for Best Buy and then for a "Ma & Pa" shop in Mankato, MN.

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