Sony's DAV-DZ830 is an unsurprisingly stylish home-cinema system that features a full 5.1 speaker arrangement for a reasonable price of around £400.
There are some useful features including 720p and video upscaling, vanilla Dolby and DTS surround decoding and an optional media port for accessing digital files from a portable player or PC -- but is it style over substance?
There's a good deal of system for your money here, with five decent-sized satellite speakers supported by tall, height-adjustable stands -- all stylishly finished to complement the glossed black main unit and a separate subwoofer.
The speakers are wired through the stands while the rear channels are wirelessly controlled from a small infrared transmitter, which gives the system an attractively clean and inconspicuous appearance without having to trail wires the length of your room.
Once installed, the well-presented menus are easy to use and the accompanying remote is spacious and intelligently arranged. There's also a microphone-based calibration system that automatically adjusts all the audio settings without you having to make any effort.
If you've got a compatible television that can display upscaled video signals via HDMI, picture quality is impressive. There's plenty of detail and depth-defining contrast supported by decent black levels, although dark scenes can struggle to retain distinction. Colours are evenly balanced and natural, especially with skin tones -- so ambient films such as This Is England appear untainted and realistic.
The sound is surprisingly powerful with enough dynamics to raise the excitement in scary thrillers such as 28 Weeks Later, while the subwoofer's deep low frequencies add to explosive special effects.