For those looking for a one-stop home cinema solution, affordable all-in-one systems such as the Sony BDV-E870 will always appeal.
And the new breed do much more than just squirt out Blu-ray pictures (including 3D) and 5.1 sound – this black plastic ensemble will stream your music, video and pictures from a networked PC, suck tunes from your iPod, and give you access to catch up TV content and movies-on-demand.
Unfortunately for Sony, so will many rival products, which is maybe why this system will also play Super Audio CDs...
The BDV-E870 uses Sony's XrossMediaBar interface, which should make navigating its extensive features a stress-free affair for most.
Buyers get all the benefits of Bravia Internet Video (including BBC iPlayer and LOVEFiLM) without splashing out on a Bravia TV. BD and DVD images are solid, and the 5.1 sound is far superior to anything you'll get from a flatscreen TV or low-end soundbar.
The speaker array struggles to deliver any real midrange. There's a gap between the deep-sounding and room-filling sub and the trebly-sounding surrounds. At least the diddly centre channel still manages to convey clean and clear dialogue.
It also suffers from decidedly 'budget' build quality. I found the tower speakers were prone to wobbling and the central control unit emitted an irritating hum.
While having colour-coded speaker cabling makes installation a breeze, the lack of HDMI inputs precludes hooking up additional components.
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