First off I say 395 cause I bought one and liked it biased yea very much.
Now the second reason is the specs,
from what I can find the 196 only supports AC3/DTS while the 395 supports TrueHD/DTSMA. Can you hear an audible difference between the two? Some say they can but its not really that important unless youre like those people who just LOVE seeing TrueHD on the receiver lol.
Speaker wise, the 196s are slightly bigger than the 395s if im doing the math right but the sub on the 395 is slightly bigger. Either way the sensitivity (How efficient the speakers are at certain amounts of power) is pretty low so you'd need alot of energy to play these speakers "loud".
Also the 395 has an extra hdmi input!
It seems thought the 196 is a oconus thing. could the 396 be the same as the 395?
No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!
I see that pokekevin pretty much answered everything so there's no need for me to add to that. Thanks buddy ! What basically sold me on the 395 was cost and the fact that it matched the a/v formats of the Blu-ray player that I was looking at, and eventually bought (BDT-210). I don't listen at high volumes anymore so volume output is not a deciding factor for me. However, I wouldn't go with an active sub-woofer any smaller than 8" on any system that you get. A speaker upgrade for any HTiB should also be planned for down the road regardless. Speaking of which, Pokekevin, you've gone thru a few it seems so I may have to pick your brain a bit on that.