Editors' Note: As of January 2011, this product has been discontinued (though remaining inventory may still be available for sale from some retailers). Interested consumers should check out the replacement model, the Zvox 325, which offers improved styling and front-panel controls.
The Zvox 315 "sound console" is a one-box speaker system designed to hook up directly to your TV, PC, iPod, or MP3 player. You don't need a receiver, because the 315 is empowered with three 3.5-inch high-quality speakers and amplifiers, plus a built-in powered 5.25-inch subwoofer. It's available from Zvox's Web site for $199.
The Zvox 315 is 17 inches wide and 4.5 inches high, but its 14-inch depth is considerably larger than that of the average full-size center-channel home-theater speaker. In fact, its dimensions are more in line with those of a standard A/V component, such as a DVD player or a digital cable tuner. We placed the 315 on a shelf under our TV, but you could place a small TV or computer monitor directly on top of the 315. The suedelike dark gray finish adds a touch of class to the solidly constructed design; it's also available in silver.
The rear panel houses two minijack inputs, volume and subwoofer level controls, a Phase Cue knob that controls the spread of the stereo soundstage, and a master power switch. Don't worry, you don't need to reach back there to turn the 315 on or off--it automatically comes to life whenever it senses a signal and shuts itself off after three minutes when no signal is detected.
The 315 is designed to hook up to the variable output or headphone jack on your TV--or any audio source, for that matter (PC, radio, CD player, iPod, or MP3 player). It will also work with line-out audio connections, but then you'll need to use the 315's rear-mounted volume knob--rather than the source device--to control the sound level. Whichever connection route you choose, all of the necessary cables are included, so you won't have to raid the local RadioShack to get started.