Philips adds another wireless device to its collection of high technology sounds equipments, and this time it is the Philips HSB4383/12 sound bar with wireless subwoofer. It has a built-in DVD player and HDMI 1080p up-scaling along with this wireless technology and promises great listening experience with the Dolby Virtual Speaker.
There is never a lack of good taste when it comes to Philips’ designs for sound bars. Yet, it stays with one identity and this sleek, glossy-finished sound bar is easily identified as one of Philips’ product with the same taste of elegance.
The main unit measures 800 x 140 x 97mm while the subwoofer is just 170 x 430 x 340mm. The total weight of both units is just 11kg, and it includes a remote control with EasyLink capability that connects to all HDMI CEC enabled equipments. There are two speakers within this compact package.
The main unit has an MP3 line-in and a USB port. There are ports for component video output, Easy-Fit speaker connectors, HDMI output and a TV in (audio, cinch).
Setting up the HSB4383/12
Setting up the system is simple, and best placed near the TV, while keeping the speakers at the normal listening ear-level that is directly parallel to the listening area. Meanwhile, the subwoofer should be at the corner of the room, at least one meter away from the tv for best positioning. To avoid magnetic interference or any unwanted noise, the system should not be placed too close to any radiation devices.
Users may need some assembling work to attach speakers to the main unit. The handy user manual with pictures illustration provided with the purchase is a good guide to the assembly to ensure that the left and right speakers are attached correctly. Studs are supplied and they are to be inserted into the holes that will secure the separate units together to make them into one complete system.
After this initial assembly, users need to select the best video connection for it. There are four choices: the HDMI connection for HDMI, DVI or HDCP-compliant; SCART connection for a standard tv; connect through component video for a standard tv or Progressive Scan tv; connect through composite video (CVBS) for a standard tv. If the user’s tv has only a DVI connection, a HDMI/DVI adaptor is required. An extra audio connection is needed to complete this connection too.
Meanwhile, the audio connections are obvious, however, the red/white connect audio cables are not included. The FM antenna connects to the FM ANT socket on the unit.
Once the hardware assembly is done, user needs to follow the exact instructions and sequence for the next steps to complete the setup. First of all, the remote control needs to be prepared, and it simply to put in the batteries for the unit. Then turn on the tv by pressing on the standby button, and lookout for the automatic setup of wireless connection between the main unit and subwoofer. There are light indicators on the subwoofer, with blue indicators meaning successful installation and green meaning that connection has failed and user needs to set up the system manually. Philips did a good job with the manual and the step-by-step instructions are clear with illustrations for better understanding.
Sound and Video Quality
The Philips HSB4383/12 supports audio playback with MP3 and WMA format. The playback can be from a CD-R/RW, USB or Audio CD. Its output is 300RMS, and profiles supported include Dolby Digital, Dolby ProLogic II, DTS and Stereo. There are some standard equalizer settings, namely Action, Classic, Concert, Drama, Gaming, Jazz, News, Party, Rock and Sports. The wireless connection is a 2.4GHz frequency with GFSK modulation, and uses the adaptive frequency technology.
For video output, meanwhile, the system supports DivX 3.11 onwards up until DivX 6.0 and DivX Ultra, as well as MPEG 1 and 2. It also supports playback for NTSC and PAL system video discs, and playback media includes CD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW, DVD-Video and Video CD/SVCD. Still picture playback is available for JPEG formats and there are enhancements including rotate, zoom and slideshow with music playback.
For the price that it asks for, this system can only boast of the Dolby Virtual Speaker technology. It claims to provide great listening experience to users with this technology’s sophisticated audio virtualization. There is just so much that can be expected from a 2-speaker system, even though marketing claims boasts of the system replicating the sonic characteristics hat occur in an ideal 5.1 channel environment.
While it does not quite impress with two speakers trying to give the impression of five, it does somewhat help that it carries the HDMI 1080p up-scaling capability. It also helps that it uses HDMI connections that makes a direct digital connection that can carry uncompressed digital HD video, without conversions to analog.
Pros and Cons
Philips does give an easy-to-follow manual to help with the setting up of the systems with illustrations and simple words. While it does not go as far as to be able to replace a 5.1 stereo system, it does deliver an above average 2.1 stereo performance with the Dolby Virtual Speaker technology. Another good point for this speaker is that it does give much value for the price it asks for, especially for a market where MP3s are the more frequent format and an average user just wants to enjoy a movie with both video playback and sound combined, complementing a 32” flatscreen tv and not clustering the room with too many equipments and wiring.
However, users need to bear in mind that an additional HDMI/DVI adaptor is required if the user’s tv has only a DVI connection. An extra audio connection is also needed to complete this connection.
Users also need to check with dealers for compatibility concerns. While DivX is supported, users have to bear in mind that, just like most Philips products, the DivX support is only for videos rented or purchased through the DivX registration code of the system. Meanwhile, some subtitle files are supported but do not appear on the file navigation menu, giving the false impression that the subtitles do not work. Another possible inconvenience is that the subtitle filename has to be the same as the file name of the video to allow it to appear.
An average user with average expectations may find that this system is sufficient to carry out the daily functions of watching and listening, but it is not the perfect system. Especially not with just 2 speakers that claims to function as 5, even though Philips may have deployed the best possible technology to make this system as complete as its compact body can carry.