Sony’s BDV-E880 certainly has looks on its side: there’s an elegance to the speakers and gently swept-back main unit that compares well with the more bluff looks of the company’s outgoing BDV-E870. It’s also competitively priced, which, given the proportions of its front tower speakers seems to suggest it represents considerable value for money.
The good news continues when you peer at the specs. You get twin HDMI inputs as part of the deal – which makes huge sense given Sony’s status as a maker of games consoles and TV recorders.
You also get automatic speaker calibration, carried out in Sony’s typically fast and efficient manner using a supplied mic.
Extraordinary online featuresOnline provision is first-rate, too: Sony’s Bravia Internet Video portal is among the best, offering a terrific range of catch-up TV and other entertainment.
Most usefully of all, this system supports high-definition movie streaming, thanks to its Movies Unlimited platform, and for many, that’ll be a compelling advantage.
More after the break
It all works slickly (at a cost, of course) although it seems churlish of Sony to insist that you should pay extra for a wi-fi USB dongle. We’d use a wired connection if possible.
Lack of sonic integrationThat’s not our biggest complaint, though: its true weakness lies in its lack of sonic integration. The diminutive centre and rear speakers sound lean; the taller fronts more burly, and the result is a soundfield that’s far too distinct, its elements failing to form the cohesive whole generated by most test rivals.
You’ll notice that in rapid front-to-back flypasts, in swirling space battles and in most other test-scene classics from your favourite action or sci-fi movies – but it’s also apparent with subtler effects, too. There’s just too much of a disconnect between the front and the back.
Picture quality compensatesExcellent picture quality in 2D and 3D provides considerable compensation: effects have great depth in 3D, adding considerably the fun, while motion and DVD upscaling are well up to par.
For all that – and the attractions of its price – we’d say this isn’t the best Sony home cinema system (the smaller BDV-E380 is better balanced), and nor is it anything other than an also-ran.