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Sony Bravia Theatre RHT-G800: Surround sound TV stand

Wire-phobic? Don't want to ruin your minimalist pad with speakers everywhere? Sony has created a TV stand with built-in speakers that create the illusion of surround sound

If the thought of wires snaking around your room has put you off buying a set of surround-sound speakers, Sony has the answer. We've just been treated to a demo of the Bravia Theatre RHT-G800, a TV stand with built-in speakers that create the illusion of surround sound.

There are seven speakers inside the stand -- three at the front, two at the sides and two subwoofers underneath. The subs are in a special enclosure to stop them vibrating too much and annoying your neighbours. So you'll hear the rumble of an explosion, but you shouldn't be able to feel it.

Unlike some fake surround-sound products out there, the RHT-G800 doesn't need a wall to bounce the sound off, so there's no need to set the thing up with a microphone the first time you use it -- just turn on and go.

The stand has room for up to four components -- the idea is that you plonk your telly on top, connect your DVD player, Freeview box or games console to the ports at the back of the stand and hit play. At the back are two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, which can pass 1080i video and audio. There are also two audio line-ins, three optical digital and one coaxial digital port. A small display at the top of the stand tells you which source you are listening to and shows the volume. This model is designed for 40- and 46-inch TVs and generates 470W of power overall.

The good news is that it works. We've just watched a couple of Blu-ray movie clips and were suitably impressed. One was a big chase from Into The Blue. As the boats raced past the screen, you really could hear them roaring behind you, although overall things sounded a little more processed than usual.

Sony says this sort of product has been a big hit in Japan, so it's hoping for some success here. Certainly, if you're short on space at home, or your other half doesn't want a load of speakers cluttering up the front room, it's a good choice.

Expect to see this in the shops in May for around the £700 mark. -JJ