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Samsung HT-AS730

>> Thursday, September 17, 2009

Samsung HT-AS730 is a "component style" home theater system, which means that it's basically a full on AV receiver that's boxed up with a matching 5.1 speaker system. No DVD or Blu-ray player is included the implication being that you already have a disc player or game console on hand. The system's receiver looks slick enough, completely masked in a polished black plastic. We were shocked to see how light the entire unit was (less than 7 pounds) considering it measures in at 15.24 inches tall by 12.2 inches wide by 16.85 inches deep.

The front flap hides various controls, which can also be accessed via the remote control along with a quarter inch headphone jack and composite input. For what's an otherwise solid design, we did have a lot of problems reading the receiver's display. The dimly lit LCD is completely useless unless you're standing right in front of it. Unfortunately the dimmer button didn't help as we were already on the brightest setting. The included remote control is a bit intimidating at first, but it does give you plenty of control over the receiver and other devices should you choose to program them into the remote.

Buttons are laid out logically throughout, although the function bank at the bottom can get a bit overwhelming. It can also be programmed to control several brands of TVs and DVD players, and it can also control Samsung Blu-ray players. As always, though, we recommend getting a more capable universal remote. As far as connectivity goes, Samsung HT-AS730 has a lot to offer at least at first glance. In addition to three switchable HDMI sources, it can accommodate two component and four composite inputs as well. (Like most AV systems nowadays, Samsung HT-AS730 has no S-Video connections.)

For audio, you can take advantage of up to four digital sources (three optical, one coaxial). While Samsung HT-AS730 offers a decent connectivity suite for a home theater system, there are caveats. First off, there's no video upconversion. That means for each input type HDMI, component, or composite you'll need to run a corresponding output cable to your TV, and switch inputs there accordingly. Also keep in mind that there's a maximum of five AV sources (four on the back, plus the front panel auxiliary) to toggle between so you could have three HDMI sources (game console, Blu-ray player, and DVR on HDMI, plus a Nintendo Wii on component, for instance).

Once we mastered all of our input settings, we were upset to find that our HDMI connections were occasionally unreliable. For example, when switching between devices, we would get stuck with a blank picture. Only after unplugging and plugging in our HDMI cable were we able to see picture. We experienced this issue when switching about 30 percent of the time. Also, we found that it didn't matter what we were switching from the problem happened as long as you were landing on an HDMI input.

Samsung HT-AS730 also comes with an iPod dock that is compatible with all iPods and iPhones that have a dock connection port. We should note that using the iPhone with Samsung HT-AS730 automatically puts the device into airplane mode. There is no onscreen navigation for music playback, so while you can use the remote, you're still going to need to hover over your iPod to see what you're doing. The same is the case with iPod video playback. Additionally, the iPod must be in TV out mode for it to play through the receiver. Video quality is on average with most HTIBs we've seen with similar functionality.

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