This new Ambisound system uses "psychoacoustic phenomena, array processing and precisely angled driver positioning" to produce a surround-sound field from a single array of speakers.
But it's not terribly convincing. We're used to soundbars having a fairly wide stereo field, but little ability at projecting sounds around the back of the listener. This has a narrower projection, reducing the extent that sound envelops you.
As long as you're not expecting too much, though, this Philips has a lot going for it. Put Training Day into the built-in DVD drive and the picture is upscaled to 1080p with excellent stability. Edges are sharp, colours are vibrant, detail levels impressive.
Narrowness aside, sound performance is very good. Voices are clear and detailed, while explosions and action scenes benefit from a weighty presentation.
Good with movies, less so with musicThe challenge of a classical CD exposes the '8140's limitations. Dynamically, it's all a bit squashed, and the subwoofer produces rather flabby bass that struggles to mesh with the midrange and treble. Still, it's perfectly listenable.
More after the break
The other thing to consider is the units. This is a two-piece system comprising the main speaker/DVD bar and a separate subwoofer; neither unit is exactly small.
And you won't be escaping cabling entirely. If you want to also connect a game console or your Freeview tuner to the system, it's the subwoofer they have to plug into, meaning you can end up with a few unsightly wires.
Still, this is clearly far neater than a full system, and the excellent styling goes a long way to making-up for the size of the units, so if you're looking for decent movie sound without 5.1 speakers, this is worth a look.