For all of you who don't like the messy wiring and setup of surround-sound speakers--or even to see them out in the open--Bose has the ideal solution: the VideoWave, a new home-theater product that has a special surround-system integrated into a 46-inch LCD TV. It comes with a minimalist RF "click pad" universal remote that's easy to program and use, as well as an iPod dock. The VideoWave ships October 14 and costs $5,349.
We got a demo of the VideoWave and were generally very impressed with the product, though it is rather expensive (its price does include "white-glove" delivery and installation). Ten years in the making, the VideoWave sounds really good for a virtual surround speaker. Since all the audio parts are integrated into the back of the TV, upon first seeing and hearing the VideoWave many people will be surprised to learn that the sound is coming from the TV, and not from speakers placed around the room.
In keeping with the minimalist theme, Bose has designed an AV box that essentially acts as a hub for the unit. It connects to the TV with a single proprietary cable (a 3-meter cord comes with the system, but longer cords can be purchased depending on your specific installation). You get three HDMI inputs on the back of the hub and one on the front for camcorders and other video devices you might attach. There's also a component-video connection on the back along with other basic AV inputs.
Once you connect a component such as an Blu-ray player or a cable box to one of the HDMI ports (cables not included), the system detects that you've connected a new product. You then follow a simple set of instructions to access the remote codes for the component you've connected and the product shows up in the onscreen menu. You can then access that component via the click pad remote, which features a touch interface and uses RF technology, so it doesn't need to be aimed at the unit and all the devices it controls can be hidden from view.
At this price, this system is obviously geared to a particular type of customer. This is not for the audiophile or videophile who demands the best quality for the best price. For instance, while the TV is a 1080p, 120Hz TV, it's not a high-end LED model that also offers 3D capability. A 46-inch TV of this ilk would probably cost around $1,000, or perhaps even slightly less. And you can obviously get a very good audio system for $4,300. So for many folks the numbers won't add up.
However, this is for the person who's willing to pay extra to have high-quality sound and decent video integrated into one very clean looking home-theater system that's easy to operate. A Bose rep also told us that the installation will go a bit beyond your typical delivery and setup. For instance, with the purchase of the optional wall-mount accessory (around $150), the installer will mount the system on the wall.
For some, the size of the TV will be a drawback, but Bose decided that 46 inches would offer the widest appeal at launch. In the U.S., consumers tend to like their TVs slightly bigger--especially when they cost this much--but elsewhere in the world, particularly in Europe and Asia, consumers tend to go smaller.