Bose 3-2-1 GS Series II DVD system review: Bose 3-2-1 GS Series II DVD system

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The Good Compact system has integrated progressive-scan DVD player, AM/FM tuner, two satellite speakers, and subwoofer; delivers simulated surround-sound effects without rear speakers; easy to set up and use.

The Bad Expensive; no HDMI output; only one A/V input; proprietary cables limit speaker-placement options; lackluster sound with music.

The Bottom Line The Bose 3-2-1 Series II DVD system does a surprisingly good surround-sound imitation with just two satellites, but it's overpriced.

6.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6

The Bose 3-2-1 Series II DVD home-entertainment system is an updated version of the company's older 3-2-1 system. Like its predecessor, the 3-2-1 Series II uses signal processing to give the impression of surround sound from just two small satellites and a subwoofer. Second-generation refinements include updated signal-processing technology, a smaller DVD player/tuner unit--Bose calls it a media center--and a redesigned remote control. Although the 3-2-1 Series II ($999 list price) does a surprisingly decent job creating an expansive sound field, its sparse video connectivity makes it less versatile than a decent A/V receiver or even many competing home-theater-in-a box systems (HTIBs).

The Bose 3-2-1 Series II's compact design makes it a suitable candidate for bedrooms and small home theaters where center and rear speakers and their associated wires would be too intrusive. The two small, graphite-gray satellite speakers (3.5 by 7.9 by 5.25 inches each) are magnetically shielded to prevent video interference. You can perch them on stands, place them in home-entertainment furniture, or wall-mount them with optional Bose brackets. However, the 15-foot proprietary Y cable that connects the 3-2-1 Series II's speakers to the main unit limits where you can place the speakers in your room; you can have them no farther than 30 feet apart from each other and 15 feet from the main unit.

Bose's DVD player/tuner unit measures 3.25 by 13.75 by 10 inches--approximately the size of an Xbox. It has a green text display on its face and basic controls (on/off, source, volume, enter, and eject) near the front of its top panel. A 10-foot proprietary cable connects the DVD/tuner box to the Acoustimass subwoofer (14.5 by 8.75 by 19.1 inches), which is quite bulky compared with the other components. Notably, Bose does not list the wattage output of the subwoofer or the main unit, so you can't compare their specs to those of the competition.

We had no trouble programming the included universal remote to operate our cable box and TV, and we found the remote's layout easy to master. We noticed that we had to point the clicker almost directly at the Bose 3-2-1 Series II for its commands to register.

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