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Sony Esprit TAV-L1: Sex on a stand

Sony's latest concept home cinema system, the Esprit TAV-L1, has style aficionados drooling, as well as featuring some decent technology

Aside from a few of the scantily clad promotions girls, the most eye-catching model at last week's Stuff Show was a concept home cinema system from Sony's latest Esprit range.

Sony is well aware that style is regarded as one of the defining factors influencing buying decisions and the 'oohs' and 'ahhs' emanating from the Sony stand will sound like music to the Japanese giant's ears.

The first product from the Esprit range is the TAV-L1, a stunningly integrated screen and home cinema system that's anything but ordinary. The design features a unique sliding front panel that supports 2.1 speakers and a DVD system with a fixed 32-inch Bravia LCD behind.

If you're watching TV or playing DVDs, the front panel gently slides down to expose the screen, whereas if you're listening to music the panel remains in its raised position. The 'Midnight' (that's black to you and me) front panel comes as standard, but you can customise the design with a choice of seven different colours including panels with artistic, stenciled patterns.

Of course, Sony claims that style is accompanied by substance and the system features some decent technology. Sound is delivered using a S-Master digital amplifier, which supposedly preserves a purer signal by negating the need for analogue conversion stages.

The S-Force Pro is a pseudo-surround system that conjures the illusion of surround sound from only two speakers. Apparently it doesn't rely on wall reflections, so it can be used in any shaped room.

We've seen enough of Sony's Bravia LCDs that use dedicated digital processing to believe the screen will be up to scratch and the high-resolution panel will support 720p and 1080i high-definition formats.

So-called style systems often sacrifice performance and purists claim you can't beat separates, but if you want an all-in-one system that'll impress your friends and improve your interior design this could be it.

The TAV-L1 is available now priced at a considerable £2,999.