Convenience is the key word when it comes to home-cinema systems. Nothing drives your significant other nearer to mental collapse than yet another horrendous tangle of cabling. The solution? Space-saving designs that are easy to use and, more recently, the introduction of 'convergence' features that allow you to access a wider range of media from separate sources.
JVC's latest range of so-called 'lifestyle systems' ticks all these boxes. The bizarrely named Sophisti range features three attractively styled systems -- DD-8, DD-3 and DD-1 -- designed to complement flat-screen displays.
You can play standard DVD and CD formats with integrated Dolby Digital, DTS and Pro Logic II processing, using a 3.1 speaker system featuring JVC's Front Surround Technology. These pseudo-surround systems are unlikely to convince you that the missing rear channels actually exist, but they do save space and cut down on cabling.
Surround effects are achieved using centre speakers with Direct Drive units, which feature unique twin diaphragms. JVC claims this provides superior directivity (ie, you can more easily tell where the sound is supposed to be coming from), with wider horizontal and vertical sound fields.
All three Sophisti systems feature USB hosting, which allows you to directly access files from portable media players, USB card readers and digital cameras. The DD-8 and DD-3 systems also feature more advanced convergence features using a Network Media Player.
This means you can access stored or downloaded files from your PC, including MP3, WMA, WAV, MPEG-4, JPEG and DivX formats. You can connect the system directly to your PC or make a wireless LAN connection, using a wireless router or an Ethernet adaptor.
The DD-8 and DD-3 systems feature HDMI digital connectivity with 720p upscaling, which will enhance the image quality of your existing DVD collection to near high-definition performance.
The systems use different types of speakers for the front channels. The DD-8's full-sized speakers feature curved constructions and advanced drive technology, which claim hi-fi audio quality from music sources, while the other systems use more simple designs.
The Sophisti range is available now, priced £1,299 for the DD-8, £699 for the DD-3 and £499 for the DD-1. -RA