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Onkyo HTX-22HD: Three is a magic number

Gurt massive CRTs with built-in decoder and speakers have gone the way of the dodo, so here's a quality 2.1 system with a combined amp and sub to make your puny flatscreen sound good

You used be able to buy a massive CRT with a built-in Dolby Pro Logic decoder and a set of speakers. Bingo: greatly improved sound out of your TV and no need to buy an external surround-sound system. Sadly, this practice has gone the way of the HD DVD, and we're left with flat TVs that have stereo speakers, and generally not very good ones.

That leaves you with one option: buy more speakers. And while the geek in us wants to suggest you get the most enormous thumping surround-sound system you can, that just isn't practical for most people. The Onkyo HTX-22HD is a good compromise though, with a pair of tiny speakers and a combined amplifier and subwoofer.

It's also well specified, with two HDMI inputs and a single output, a pair of optical inputs and a single coaxial socket for connecting DVD players, media streamers and even Freeview boxes. There are even two pairs of analogue RCA connectors for connecting older, stereo sources that don't have the luxury of digital outputs, or CD and MP3 players.

What impresses us most about the 22HD is that it supports the new, lossless audio codecs from DTS and Dolby. You're most likely to find these DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD soundtracks on Blu-ray movies, but who knows, in the future they might feature on games consoles and Internet movie downloads. It's the future, for sure.

The HTX-22HD has another cool feature, namely DTS Surround Sensation, which is another system designed to create surround sound from just two speakers. We remain sceptical about such things, but in due course we'll be reviewing this little bundle of joy, so we'll pass judgement on it then.

If you virtual surround sound isn't good enough, you can add a set of speakers and a centre channel to get full 5.1 surround sound. This is a really smart idea, especially if you tell your less tolerant other half that it's just 2.1, and then add the other 3.0 while they're asleep, or out at work. Cunning. So very cunning.

The HTX-22HD is available now for £300, and the extra surround and centre speakers are £100. -Ian Morris