This describes my two-day internet journey into selecting the right HTIB for my optoma hd70 DLP projector. I was only vaguely interested in HTS, but after seeing the glowing AVS thread for the optoma hd70, it seems clear that it's time for the novice to take the home-theater plunge if you want a 106" plasma-like experience for $1,000 (no tax and no shipping).
After seeing the ad in circuit city for this $260 + tax LG LHT9645S, i did a search and found this thread. Yes, it looks like a really good system for the average theater goer and it's at a great price. I also researched CNET and looked around here and only came up with the $400 Sony DAV-FX500 and the $480 Samsung HT-TQ85 as good alternatives that differ from this LG by having tower speakers and 5-disk changer. All 3 systems are 1000 Watt Mainly I wanted to be sure to get the best sound and lots of connections in the back. Tower speakers can be dismantled for wall mounting and save $60 or more on 2 to 4 speaker stands, improves appearance, and is flexible.
I decided against the Sony because there seems to be a question mark about the sound quality on a similar Sony system. I made this questionable decision even after reading 7 customer reviews in Amazon and CNET that were all positive and it's probably more attractive and definitely better-constructed than the Samsung or LG. My personal experience with sony from a wide variety of small electronics is that they are always excellent in sound, construction, and style. There was not a detailed professional CNET review. The only complaints about the Sony were that it was not loud enough for those who like things loud and inserting a new disk is slow. The 2 amazon reviews were 4 out of 5 stars.
CNET reviews listed the Samsung at the top of a list giving it 'only' 8 out of 10 so i was biased in favor of it. Also, the 2 amazon reviews were 5 star. The CNET reviewer seemed to think it was one of the best systems in all aspects of sound and capabilities, including powerful sound and a USB input as well as HDMI input and output, even if the input is just a splitter or something. It's a little concerning that there were several places to get this refurbished making me wonder about reliability, but lowering the cost. I found a "refurbished to new condition" Samsung HT-TQ85 for $388 after shipping (an amazon seller with good reviews) so it's $102 more (33%) than the LG after local tax: $260+$26 = $286.
The LG may be just as good in sound as the Sony and Samsung and anything else that costs less than $500. At least that's the best we can gather from the internet. The Sony and Samsung may be more expensive only because they have the 5 disk changer and tower speakers. Sony has the looks, but the Samsung will have the more powerful sound. Find a good price, and all 3 seem to be a the best buys, but the LG appears to have the best sound/price ratio if you don't need tower speakers.