Our Verdict 
It’s far from inexpensive, and has some competitive, cheaper rivals, but the Sony has style
For 
Bags of style
easy to set up and use
wireless rear speakers
good all-round performance
Against 
Optimistic price
the same money would buy better-performing separates
Reviewed on

First things first: this Sony cinema set-up is, it has to be said, pretty expensive.

But it does include more-or-less every bit of audio-visual technology the company has at its disposal. OK, let's not get carried away – there's no Blu-ray capability, but that's about all that's missing.

This Sony system has a great automatic set-up, video upscaling to 720p/ 1080i, 32-bit S-Master digital amplification, the company's proprietary nano-fine tweeters and wireless rear speakers using Sony's S-DIAT digital infrared transmission system. And it plays SACD discs, too.

It's likely to be the looks of the Sony that first grab the attention: it's part of the company's revitalised Esprit range, and it's certainly svelte and eye-catching. The slimline control unit can either sit on its own shelf-stand or be wall-mounted using an optional kit.

Simple, swift set-up systemAll the fiddly, unsightly stuff – connections, amplification and so on – is hidden away in the slim, floorstanding subwoofer tower, from which run connections to the centre speaker, the two front-channel speakers and the little infrared transmitter for the rears.

More after the break

The stereo version of Sony's Digital Cinema Auto-Calibration runs through the system set-up amazingly rapidly and accurately, and the S-DIAT wireless rear system works well, only struggling a little when the either the infrared sender or receiver signal is blocked.

Play a DVD, and picture quality is good even on very large screens, to the extent that you may not miss a 1080p video output – the 1080i setting manages very nicely even with the darkness of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Perhaps a little pricey?It delivers smooth, clean movement across the screen, while the sound quality is more than acceptable for a packaged system of this kind.

The Sony's only problem lies with its price. There are several systems in our Buyer's Guide that offer similar levels of performance for well under four figures.

The Sony offers good weight and definition, and a cohesive sound too, but it isn't quite special enough to earn five stars.

Still, this is a luxury cinema package, and it mostly succeeds in blending style and performance.