The Samsung HT-TX75 is a well-rounded home theater solution that doesn't break the mold, by any means, but is a well-equipped device that is worth the $499 (and sometimes lower) price tag.
Before I tell you about what I liked and what I didn't, I want to point you to the following CNET Review performed by the ever-capable John Falcone. Although he reviewed the Samsung HT-X70, the head unit is roughly identical to the HT-TX75, but the speakers and a few other specs are different. For this reason, I will not be rehashing the in-depth coverage of those features that are the same as the HT-X70. In case you're wondering, the HT-X70 was given a 7.1 out of 10 by Falcone.
The first thing that will strike you with the HT-TX75 is the device's stylish head unit. With a sleek black finish and a host of options including a hidden USB port for easy connectivity of an iPod or other USB-capable device, XM capability, wireless speaker capability and support for DivX, the HT-TX75 will immediately strike you as a capable product.
One of my favorite features of this home theater in a box is its five-disc CD/DVD changer. Not only did I appreciate just one trip to the system, but the remote's disc skip button basically allowed me to be lazy and sit in my chair when we were ready to watch the next movie. That said, there is no easy way to know which film is next and I sometimes found myself waiting for each movie to load before I could decide if that was the intended disc.
Another great feature of the device, as John pointed out in his review of the X70, is the HDMI upscaling to 720p/1080i. Usually, I'm not a fan of upscaling DVDs to 720p or 1080i because if it's not done well, the picture looks worse than if it was a simple 480p image. With that in mind, I was quite impressed with the TX75's upscaling abilities.
And while I tend to get sucked in by a good remote more than anything, the Samsung remote leaves a bit to be desired. And although my hand size is above average, the remote is still too long for anyone to hit a button on the bottom and the top without sliding it back and forth in their hand. Besides that, the buttons are in awkward positions and the range of button sizes didn't help in any way. All in all, the remote is pretty bad.
Before you get excited and think you can pop this system together in a matter of seconds, think again. The entire home theater solution comes wired out of the box and all of the speakers need to be connected to stands, which make the speakers stand about four feet in the air. Installation is simple: connect the speakers to the stand, lock them together with four screws and put them where you want. Next, take the included wires (two for the subwoofer and one each for the front and rear speakers and center channel) and start running wire all over your house. If you have a larger room and you want the rear speakers towards the back, I would suggest getting longer wire. Although the length is adequate for most rooms, I was stuck with about five feet less than I needed, so I was forced to do some improvising to get it to work. Yet another reason why I prefer wireless speakers.
Although I didn't have the opportunity to try it out, the TX75 is wireless-capable with the ability to connect the rear speakers without the need for wires. If you're interested in connecting wireless speakers, you will need to purchase a separate Samsung product called the SWA-3000, which will allow you to make your rig partially wireless -- the front speakers must be wired.
Video performance on the TX75 was well-above average compared to a similarly-equipped device. Regular DVDs looked great on an HD screen and performed quite well on an SD set as well. In order to get a feel for just how well it performed on burned discs, I took some home movies that I burned to a DVD and played them on the device. All in all, the quality was still quite good and I was impressed by how clean the image looked when compared to other players I've used. Simply put, video quality on the TX75 is impressive.
Much like John's review of the X70, I had some issues with the TX75's audio quality. That said, I don't think it's as bad as John's opinion of the X70 as these speakers are slightly upgraded. First off, I tried throwing in some Jimmy Buffett (my favorite) to see how well it performed on such classics as He Went to Paris and Son of a Son of a Sailor and the TX75 played these relatively well. From there, I turned it up a notch and tried songs with more instrumentals and range like Dean Martin's Ain't That A Kick in the Head and Theme from New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. At this point, the TX75 started performing about average and had some trouble with the more complicated parts. Finally, I tossed in some symphonies to see how well it would perform with the most complicated music and it didn't do as well as I had hoped.
Besides music, audio quality in movies was sometimes below par and interference plagued some of the movies I watched. That said, the issues with movies were quickly muted by the fantastic subwoofer that added a significant amount of excitement to each video.
XM satellite radio sound was adequate, but I wasn't looking for too much there anyway, as radio is one of the last things I would expect people to use this for.
The Samsung HT-TX75 is a nice home theater in the box that, although it doesn't quite compare to more expensive solutions on the market, is not expected to. It features a nice design, nice sounding speakers and video quality that isn't rivaled by any other device in the same price range. But with a poor remote and some sound quality issues, you may want to consider what is most important to you before you pick one up.
Check back each Friday on The Digital Home as Don performs a hands-on evaluation of some of the hottest home products around. Next week: TBD. If you want to see prior Hands-on Friday articles from Don, click here.