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The return of the living room console

Marcel Wanders' home theater system hides the hardware inside modern furniture.

Let's face it: no matter how much you spend, home theater gear is pretty ugly. That's why the stuff used to be built into fine furniture in the '50s and '60s. And now that is happening again.

Theatre by Holland Electro

The "Theatre" system is part of a collection designed by Marcel Wanders for HE of the Netherlands. It's a low-slung, modern wooden side table with all the home theater stuff built into it and barely visible. The specs are fairly modest at just 25 watts of audio output, but they're probably just being honest, unlike the labeling on some "600 watt" home theater systems you'll find in the big box stores. The integrated DVD player handles all the usual formats plus DivX. The pebble-shaped things are the surround speakers.

"Theatre" goes for 299 euros, so once again I am reminded that Europeans have the opportunity to buy inexpensive home products with some style while we in the U.S. are mostly inundated with all the silver plastic that Sony, Matsushita, and the rest can get China to make out of our recycled water bottles.