Philips HTS9800W review

Cheaper rivals are setting high standards at lower prices, but the Philips HTS9800 is still a good buy Tested at £650.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Still among the best, even given the emergence of cheaper rivals


  • +

    Build and styling are second to none

  • +

    good sonic integration

  • +

    fine pictures


  • -

    A little pricey among the current crop of rival systems

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

This package is very familiar to us already: it won the home cinema in a box Product Of The Year gong at our 2006 Awards.

However, it's at the upper end of the price scale in this sector of the market, so can it justify the price tag? Or do its more wallet-friendly rivals match it for performance?

It's obvious straight from the box that the Philips has had a great deal of thought put into its design: it offers a 6.1 speaker array, complete with a centre-back channel, while the three back speakers communicate with the front part of the system wirelessly, removing the need for unsightly cables trailing from one end of the room to the other.

An extra box – to be placed towards the back of the room – contains amps for all the rear speakers, as well as a 2.4 GHz wireless receiver.

It's a sleek and sexy package all round. The main unit is a very smart affair: it has the air of a high-end (and high-cost) style system. Beneath the main unit's back plate lies an HDMI output, delivering upscaled pictures in 720p or 1080i, while other socketry is housed in a separate box.

Detailed picture, good sonic integration
Getting it into action, it's easy to remember why we gave it an Award. Pictures are solid and clear, with good contrast and black detail, while the colour palette strikes a fine balance between realism and vibrant spectacle.

The Philips offers a smooth, cohesive and well-ordered sonic performance: the impressively enveloping soundfield is partly thanks to that extra centre-rear channel, but it is also due to a well-dispersed, detailed and polished performance with good integration between the main speakers and subwoofer – rare among packages of this class.

The surround speakers use ribbon tweeters, which helps to render both movies and music with spaciousness and precision.

That said, some newer, cheaper rivals are setting high standards at lower prices. But there's no question, the Philips HTS9800 is still a good buy.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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