Unlike most bulky A/V receivers that take up half your equipment rack, Sharp's lean-profile SD-PX2 receiver/DVD player is just 4.5 inches thick and 14.5 inches wide. In fact, it's designed to be hung on the wall next to your flat-screen TV using the included all-metal mounting bracket (a table stand is also included). The high-tech aesthetic extends to the front panel's unbroken lines. All of the SD-PX2's controls are located on its right side, next to an illuminated clear plastic frame. While it doesn't have quite as much sex appeal as Bang & Olufsen's wall-mountable components, this gorgeous little system costs a lot less; we found it for less than $400 online.
The SD-PX2 plays CDs, Super Audio CDs, DVDs, and DVD-Audio, as well as most flavors of home-burned DVDs. Lacking a conventional loading tray (because the system has a vertical orientation), the disc compartment's door automatically slides out of the way when you press the open/close button, and you have to pop a disc onto the waiting hub as you would with a portable DVD or CD player. To retrieve the disc, you must reach into the bay and pry the disc off the hub, which can turn into a minor hassle for the less dexterous among us.
If we were judging the SD-PX2 as a home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) component, we'd be reasonably happy with its meager connectivity suite and modest power specs (Sharp's 1-bit, all-digital amplifier technology delivers five 35-watt channels). However, by midrange ($400 to $600) receiver standards, neither is great--though given the built-in universal disc player, we're a bit more inclined to be forgiving. On the output side, you get component/progressive-scan, S-Video, composite video, one analog stereo, and just one optical digital audio connector. Inputs are limited to two sets of analog stereo and two digital audio jacks--one optical, one coaxial. The cheesy spring-clip speaker-wire connectors represent a questionable cost-cutting move. And it's also worth noting that the rear panel's headphone jack won't be accessible if you wall mount the SD-PX2 instead of setting it on a stand or a table.
The system will do best with relatively laid-back, warm speakers such as those made by Polk, NHT, and Infinity rather than aggressively detailed speakers (Klipsch comes to mind). Even with well-matched speakers, Roxy Music's Avalon SACD sounded dimensionally flat and slightly "tizzy." On the upside, the sound was brighter and more detailed than on Sharp'sreceiver/DVD player, but it lacked its bigger sibling's refinement. The SD-PX2 wasn't as satisfying as Pioneer's receiver, which sounded much more powerful and better balanced overall. Of course, the Pioneer, at nearly 16 inches deep, isn't nearly as cool-looking as the PX2 and definitely not suitable for wall-hugging duty.
Alas, there's a price to be paid for beauty. The Sharp SD-PX2 looks sweet but delivers only average sound. If you can live with that, you can live with the SD-PX2.