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Sony HTP-BD3IS review

Recession causing you to rethink your cinema outlay, or just want a small-room system?

Our Verdict

A small and interestingly styled home cinema system that struggles when things get a little full on but still offers good Blu-ray performance

For

  • Blu-ray performance and sub-sat integration

Against

  • Struggles when the action gets full-on and complicated
  • The subwoofer looks like a dog
  • BD slow

Things are looking up for the all-in-one market, with Blu-ray providing an injection of desirability (and price). There's a fair number to choose from, including Sony's HTP-BD3IS tested here; and I suspect the market will grow as the economic pinch means people eschew the pricier separates option.

Saying that, the BD3IS is actually a bundle of two existing Sony products. The BDP-S350 can now be snaffled for as little as £150, while the HT-IS100 sub/sat system sells for around £400 on its own. It may be a case, then, that you could build your own version of this system for less than it costs as an all-in-one!

The speaker package features satellites about the size of a golf ball. To compensate, the woofer has to have punch. But my God, did 200W necessitate it weighing a backbreaking 14.5kg? It's pretty horrible, too, being covered in black vinyl.

Underneath, the solid inputs/outputs are at odds with the cheap design values elsewhere. They're up there with the better soundbars, and include three HDMI inputs.

The satellites, unlike the sub, are seriously cute. Reassuringly heavy (75g) and pre-wired with generous lengths of cable, they will go unnoticed until powered up – which I guess is the point. And, once everything is hooked up, the Quick start mode gets you going in under six seconds, with help from Sony's DCAC auto-calibration system.

Despite being 2008 vintage, the BD player is reasonably specified, with upscaling, MPEG block noise and mosquito NR – as well as a useful audio delay circuit. It produces a crisp, textured image, with realistic and well-saturated colours.

Hellboy 2 (no slouch in the colour stakes) looks fabulous, and the deck had no problems with the high-detail, high-action sequences. The upscaler is also decent at breathing new life into SD discs; even my dodgy Chinese Frasier box-set has the impression of being near-HD, rather than the sub-DVD, VHS-impersonator it was previously.

Audio is a real surprise. I had expected the tiny satellites to struggle to dovetail with the huge sub, but Sony seems to have got the crossover about right. The woofer gives a good account for itself, and I wasn't disappointed during Hellboy 2's noisier moments – although it can lose its way a little when the lower frequencies get more complicated, and be a tad obtrusive at times.

The satellites are very controlled, and steer the sound in a way that belies their size. They lack the depth of those on some rival one-box systems, but their integration with the sub is such that they do a much better job than you'd expect.

Value offering

The BD3IS isn't premium home cinema, but it's good value, and gives soundbar systems and rival one-boxers a run for their money. And, if you see it bundled free with a new Sony LCD as I have, I'd suggest you take a serious look at the deal...

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Tech Specs

Product TypeHome Theater System
Player/Recorder TypeBlu-ray Disc Player
Speaker Configuration5.1
EthernetYes
HDMIYes
RMS Output Power450 W
Component VideoYes
Number of Digital Optical Outputs1
Subwoofer TypeActive
Sound SystemDolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS HD, Dolby Dual Mono
Brand NameSony
Features1080p Upscaling, BD Live, Child Lock, Parental Control, Screen Saver, Sleep Timer
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Video FormatsBD Video, DVD Video, AVCHD
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan
Frequency BandAM, FM
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
Operating Power Consumption115 W
Media FormatsBD-RE, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, CD-RW
Number of Digital Coaxial Outputs1
Front Speaker Height55 mm
Front Speaker Width45 mm
Front Speaker Depth40 mm
Rear Speaker Height55 mm
Rear Speaker Depth40 mm
Rear Speaker Width45 mm
Center Speaker Height55 mm
Center Speaker Width45 mm
Center Speaker Depth40 mm
Number of HDMI Inputs3
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Total System Weight (Approximate)15 kg
Height19 mm
Width46 mm
Depth45 mm
Station Presets20 x FM, 10 x AM
Number of Discs1
Image FormatsJPEG
Audio FormatsCD-DA, MP3
Product ModelHTP-BD3IS
Product NameHTP-BD3IS Home Theater System
Manufacturer Part NumberHTPB350ISFI.YG
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Our most advanced home theatre setup yet. Enjoy High Definition movies on Blu-ray disc with incredible room-filling surround sound from speakers no larger than a golf ball!

Package Contents
  • HTP-BD3IS Home Theater System
  • Remote Control
  • 1 x Optical Cable (TV)
Remote ControlYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)150 g - Main Unit, 14.50 kg - Subwoofer, 70 g - Rear Speaker, 70 g - Centre Speaker, 70 g - Front Speaker