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Philips HTS 9800W/12 Review

Lord_DDA 8 december 2007, 3.359 views

Philips HTS 9800W/12


  • unique beautiful look
  • software upgradable
  • design that allows wall mounting or not


  • wireless system that has more wires than a wired system, unneedingly
  • much room for improvement in different area's
  • disturbing noise in rear speakers
  • slow
  • not very wifi friendly/compaitlbe with other wireless systems


Score: 3Per criterium
Geluidskwaliteit Score: 4
Gebruiksgemak Score: 3
Featureset Score: 4
Bouwkwaliteit Score: 4
Prijs Score: 3
Design Score: 5
Hi, my name is Didier, male, 31 years old (this might be interesting if you want to know how to interpret this review). I have this system for over a year now, so it's fair to say that I know rather well it's (few) positive and (too many) negative points . Let's start with the good about...

The looks: I personally think this is very goodlooking, a bit futuristic but still quite beautiful. As far as I'm aware, there isn't a system on the market that even comes close. I love the blue lights used in the display, goes lovely with the Belkin N1 which I have elsewhere in the room. The square form of the speakers fits perfectly in the rest of my interior, and because everything is so flat and set up “vertically” I hardly ever have to take of any dust!

The technical design: It's possible to fix the control panel either to the wall, or just place it down tilted on top of a cupboard or so. The speakers are easily configurable as well, both for wall mounting or you can just place them on top of the enclosed pedestals (although there are only 4 of these included, so 2 will still have to go on the wall); this will allow the system to be placed in nearly every room of nearly every house.

The sound quality: Thanks to the sub woofer, complemented by 6 other high/mid tone speakers, you will not be dissapointed about the sound. Sure, it's not like having some 1000watt JBL setup, but we're not exactly going for a private dancing club here. I never had to turn up the volume all open yet, so that's good enough for me. There are many extra settings that will allow you to put the focus on a certain part of the “sound spectrum” besides the usual “base” and “treble”, there are also some presets like “digital”, “classic”, “rock”, etc...

The possibility to update: If you go to the Philips website, you can download the latest firmware for this device, burn it onto a regular cd, insert it in there, and it will update itself. Nice to fix any software/driver problems, I think version 28 is out already (is that good or bad news ;-)

And according to me that's all the good there is to say about this system, now for the bad about...

The technical design: First bad thing is that while the system is being promoted as a “wireless” sound system, this couldn't be further from the truth! If I were to count all the wires and cables, I have no less than 14! This is actually more than what you would have with a regular system of 7 speakers! The only wire that has been replaced with a wireless version is the one that would otherwise connect the front speakers (and everything else that belongs there) with the rear. Where do the EXTRA cables come from then? One extra electrical cord to power the receiver in the back (which in a wired system is non existing) and one extra cable to either connect the control panel to the subwoofer, or to give power to the subwoofer. This last bit might be a bit difficult to understand, but it is exactly the reason why I think that the R&D team at Philips havn't really put much tought into the "wireless" design of the system: why do you need one cable to power the control panel AND another to connect it to the subwoofer (which is in turn already powered)?! Surely, being the “wireless” setup that it should be, they could have just used one cable for the both! Partially transferring the electricity that the subwoofer is already receiving to the control panel. If you think about it, how much energy does that control panel need any way, to spin a cd around and power some blue leds?! There are portable DVD players on the market that have full color screens and work on batteries for hours! But no, now I have this beautiful control panel hanging on the wall, with two black cables (contrasting the white wall) dangling down. One of them is nearly a cm thick with a “magnetic shield” block of 2x3cm clearly visible ! Further more, if I wanted to connect an antenna, I ALSO have to connect it there, both the fm-antenna or the cable-antenna. Even a hdmi (which I'm glad it has) has to be connected there, that would make a total of 4 cables dangling down, while with a bit of redesigning only one was needed (for the power). Terrible. This is surely overcomable for people wanting to place the control panel on the cupboard, muffling all the cables away at the rear behind the cupboard, but NOT for people trying to use the wall mounting function. Why couldn't these 3 cables be plugged into the subwoofer instead (already hiding in the shadows of some dark corner in my living room) and transfer all THAT wirelessly to the control panel? I'll stop complaining about the excess cables now, but honestly it's deeply disappointing.

The display: Another flaw is the way the display of the control panel is being used. Not only is the screen made of some cheap kind of plastic, which shows ALL the dirty and greasy fingerprints from the moment you press it once, but it doesn't allow you to always exactly press the button which you had in mind. I mean, sometimes I press the volume up or down, and because of the bending plastic the adjecent button reacts instead, ejecting the cd or changing source instead. Had this more than once, and to think I have rather small fingers. I now touch it overreactingly soft to avoid this problem.
Another issue I have with the display, is why did they only use one narrow line of caracters? I mean, the display itself is nearly a page large, yet only one row of cd/dvd/radio information is displayed. This results in contstant scrolling of even the least of information. Cd track titles, cd names, radio station info, nothing fits. Even the display in my car stereo has been used more optimally! It can't be a matter of being too bright in a dark room, because the display is dimmable. I don't understand why not even 2% (estimated) of the display is being used... Just as an example, I would have used the display to graphically represent all the speakers, then you could put them in a certain position on the screen, then select them to adjust the volume individually, perhaps an equalizer and so on. Loads of possibilities, but none of them are there. More over, since every time you insert a cd/dvd (or take one out) you have to be at the control panel, so it's definately not too far nor unnecessary to go to.

The start up: Believe me when I say it's taking the system a more the normal time to start itself up or simply react. Perhaps this is due to the wireless protocoll having to be activated/established or whatever, but I don't think it's a sign of superior quality if you have to wait over 30 seconds before a cd starts playing! I timed this, so I'm not exagerating. Half a minute between startup and first audio; this might not sound long to you, but comparing to (again) my car stereo which needs less than 5 to bass me away, we're talking about a 600% increase in time needed here! Now getting the picture? Also when switching source via the control panel, it's taking very long to get from one mode to the other. Especially when passing “cd/dvd mode” on the way to any other mode it will halt there for a very long time, checking if there's a cd inside or not, turning on the blue light on the side, and then finally going over to the next mode. Problem is then that it remembers you pushed more than once, and before you know it, you passed what you need and have to go over it again.

Sound quality: when using only the front speakers (be it in stereo or any other mode) the sound is extremely pure, no background noise or anythng, BUT, when using surround mode and listening to the rear 3 speakers, there's unfortunately a constant buzzing noise present... you can compare it with the sound your speakers make when listening to an fm radio station with nothing being played. I hope you understand this, it's more than the average noise of electricity going through the speakers. Wireless static I call it, it's like fm quality, but abnormal since your playing a digital cd. This noise is only hearable during silences, but I can imagine if you listen to classic music, or any other kind that has silences or not many sounds playing at once (ambient and such), you might find it disturbing. You could argue and say that normally you will not here the “noise” from a sufficient distance, and you would be correct, but many people will set up their rear speakers just behind the couch which they use for watching tv, merely cm's away from their ears. For sure you will hear it then. I must say that the volume of the rear speakers is also substantially lower than the front's, which doesn't allow for a good surround effect. I tried to fix this using the controls on the remote, but there's no possibility. Most likely this can be done via a television, but up to know I still haven't had a chance to verify this. Reason being that we only just moved into this place, and I was hoping/waiting for laser television to be on the market by now, but unfortunately it has been delayed till end 2008.

The wireless frequency: AAAAARGH! You won't believe how much time and effort it took me to get this system up and working TOGETHER with my wireless router! Sure, when one is turned off, the other will work nomatter what, but to get the both up and running without interference, it took me a full day! The HTS9800 has 3 channels (although the manual said 4), and the router has 11, but also has 3 different bandwith settings (20MHz, 40MHz or both), and on top I tried protected mode once on and once off. Furthermore, I tested with two laptops, to make sure that it wasn't a receiver issue. That's 3x11x3x2x2=396 possibilities. After setting up a specific configuration I then went to to check my down/upload speed. Guess how many worked... no more than 6! Sure there were a lot that also allowed me to conect to the router, but at a tenth of the speed that I normally can. Why are all these companies still making products in the overcrowded 802.11G band?! I was planning on buying some wireless headphones, maybe even a wireless tv signal transmitter, but I'm pretty sure I will never succeed to run all 3-4 appliances simultaniously, so I'd better not. Can't wait till this 802.11N becomes the officialy approved standard.

Conclusion: If it didn't look this good, I would never have bought it in the first place. Simply because there's nothing else the package offers that would make you choose it over any other system. And honestly, if I knew then what I know now, I would have waited for something better to arrive (a succesor perhaps). It's an above average sound playing system that looks superb, but has plenty of room for improvement. If this package comes down to a price of 500euro, I'd say buy it, but the 800 I paid for it (a year ago) is perhaps too much. I can still find shops, trying to sell this system for even more, that's crazy. I will update this review what video performance is concerning, once I have my plasma tv.

I hope this was usefull for at least someone.


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Reacties (5)

Wijzig sortering
Is misschien handiger als je:
-In Nederlands schrijft
-Hoofdstukverdeling / tussenkopjes doet
-Interpunctie en hoofdletters gebruikt
-Even de survey FAQ leest
Misschien is het handiger als je:
- opbouwende kritiek geeft

Iemand heeft hier de moeite genomen om een heel stuk te schrihven,
als je het niet leuk vind hoef je het niet te lezen.
Why are all these companies still making products in the overcrowded 802.11G band?!
I think you already answered your question yourself: A year ago the N-standard wasn't avaiable yet. :P I like the review, it's size shows you put much effort and time into it but there's a slight problem.. It's in English. :P Even though I've tried to read the darn thing (:P), haven't read all of it but I must say that it was very usefull (especially the conclusion), unlikely that I'll ever buy a cinema set but atleast I know that I must look out for something else then this one. :)

One thing which could improve the review and make it also easier for the other reader: Bold texts. :P Every head in bold would make the whole review better imho. :)

Wán kwats. Heb dat systeem zelf ook gehad: en sorry hoor, maar ik koop zo'n systeem niet omdat het aantal kabels wat je in het apparaat moet steken af te kraken......
De manier van aansluiten is in principe niet relax, dat is waar, maar het systeem zelf werkt bij mij perfect.
Helemaal geen storing gehad met m'n router of iets dergelijks.
Heluid en beeld zijn dik in orde, en daarvoor koopt men normaliter zo'n systeem. Het design element is ook mooi & ik had het controlepaneel op z'n voet op een tafel staan dus dan zie je ook geen kabels hangen.....

Ach, ieder z'n dingetje zullen we maar zeggen he.......
bericht tav Sebazzz:
Bedankt voor je inbreng, ik zal er bij een mogelijks volgend review zeker mee rekening houden. :) Ik had oorspronkelijk een pak meer opmaak in het document gestoken, maar toen ik het kopieerde vanuit Word is er het één en ander verloren gegaan. Ik besloot het zo te laten, aangezien ik het al uitgebreid genoeg vond, en er niet nog meer regels wou tussen voegen (met titels en subtitels en zo). Achteraf gezien had ik het misschien beter toch gedaan. Blijkt nu ook nog dat er eerder een Nederlandstalige tekst verwacht wordt op deze forums, maar de te gebruiken woorden zoals router, wireless, home theater system, enz... hebben me onbewust in't Engels laten schrijven. Ik haat het om zoals de Fransen voor elk Engels woordje een woordje in mijn eigen taal te moeten verzinnen :)

bericht tav Teissie:
Ik heb de pointers van Sebazz ook zo opgenomen hoor, als opbouwende kritiek. Vond het bondig, beleefd en terecht wat hij te vertellen had. Toch bedankt om in de verdediging te gaan!

message fao m0nkeypwnage:
In a certain way you are right about the N-standard, even today there's no final version yet. On the other hand, there are much more possibilities than just that 802.11. What do you think of Bluetooth 2.0 for instance? This is already up and running since 2004 and its capable of connections up to 10meter. And did you know that "Work on the 802.11n standard dates back to 2004." Surely big players like Philips could come up with something that causes less interference? Or why not use the N draft version, and update their machine via firmware when needed? In any case, thanks for taking the time (and effort) for reading the full text. Your reply is much appreciated. I'll keep in mind, when trying to emphasise a certain word in the text, that I can use bold to do so. ;)

bericht tav DaBobz:
Ik vind je openingszin maar wat bot en niet echt duidelijk, maar ach, ieder z"n dingetje zullen we maar zeggen hé ;) Ik heb dat HTS evenmin gekocht met de gedachte om het af te breken. De review is simpelweg hoe ik er nuchter tegenover sta na één jaar gebruik. Ik vind het in ieder geval maar een magere verkoopstruuk van Philips om het te promoten als hét draadloze systeem bij uitstek, terwijl slechts één kabeltje vervangen werd. Erger nog, je hebt er zelfs nog méér nodig dan in een standaard systeem 8)7 ; maar ik ga mezelf niet beginnen herhalen hier. Ik geloof best dat het bij jouw wél perfect werkte, maar het ware handiger voor de lezers als je dan ook jouw merk en type van router vermelde; zo heeft iedereen er tenminste nog wat aan. Je moet wel toegeven, als er nu één router is dat bij dit ontwerp past, dan is het toch wel de Belkin N1! Des te gevaarlijker dat juist die twee niet samengaan. Wat betreft het systeem te gebruiken met het bijgeleverde voetje, is het idd een manier om tot een iets estetischere opstelling te komen en minder last te hebben van de kabels; ik vind het echter met de huidige technologische stand van zaken jammer genoeg niet de juiste. Nietemin, toch ook bedankt voor jouw inbreng.

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