Our Verdict 
Surprising looks and great performance make for a great all-in-one system with Maranello chic
Good looks
lots of features, including DVD video
Complicated (but worthwhile) set-up procedure
sound hampered somewhat by small size
Reviewed on

Some might be tempted to dismiss the Meridian F80 as an overpriced ghettoblaster with some Ferrari branding, but do so and you'll be making a massive mistake. Think of it as a transportable system that'll serve in a second room, holiday home, or even as your main system if you're short of space.

It's an unusual move for a high-end manufacturer like Meridian to produce such a leftfield product, but we're glad the company was brave enough to do it. The result is an all-in-one system that's packed full of Meridian technology at a distinctly more affordable price than the company's usual offerings.

Now, we wouldn't lie to you, so here's how it is: a similarly priced, class-leading separates system will better the F80 for outright quality, particularly for those who place a great deal of emphasis on an open-sounding soundstage - not surprising considering stereo speakers and subwoofer are squeezed into such a compact space. However, in every other area, including loudness and bass power, this Meridian is more than a match for price-rival all-in-one competitors.

Deserves to be set up properlyAnd yes, that includes last year's title-holder for this price sector, the Arcam Solo. Consider: the F80 has brilliant DAB/FM/MW and LW performance, will soon have a matching iPod dock, and it can even play DVDs (though not even Meridian would claim this as a core strength). For sheer versatility, few competitors come close.

We do have a complaint, though. This is meant to be a simple plug and play system, so why has Meridian given it such a complex set-up menu? We suspect most owners won't bother delving too deeply, which is a shame because they'll end up with less-than-optimum performance.

More after the break

Still, take the time to tune the F80 to its environment, particularly the location adjustments, and we doubt you'll find a better all-in-one system for this kind of money.