NEWS: JVC does Sophisti-cated 2.1 DVD and Blu-ray

JVC's new Super Slim TVs might grab the main headlines, but Prague was also the venue for the launch of its rather snazzy-looking Sophisti home cinema solutions.

JVC is going down the route of providing surround sound from a minimalist, 2.1 package. To that end the new Sophisti range has two compact speakers that produce stereo and surround sound. The bottom driver produces the front, stereo channels, while the top driver produces the surround effects. The top driver does this by utilising an anisotropic speaker diaphragm, which produces a wider sound field than a conventional driver.

The head units are fairly compact affairs with rather interesting two-tone colour schemes. Each one contains a DVD player and five amplifiers - front left, front right, surround left, surround right and subwoofer.

The first Sophisti system to hit UK shops will be the NX-F3 in March. This model will upscale DVDs to 1080p before outputting via HDMI, has a USB input for playback and recording of CDs, and an FM/AM tuner. The total power output is a pretty impressive 350W.

The 'F3 will be followed by the NX-F7 in June (pictured above). This one has all the features of the 'F3, and also boasts some new additions. Firstly, the cones on the 'F7 are made of wood and are said to add a warmer and more natural sound that's better suited to stereo music playback.

The 'F7 also includes JVC's K2 processing. This is designed to "restore fine details from the original master usually lost during the CD manufacturing process". JVC claims that doing this can improve CD playback to DVD-A quality, and that MP3s will be upgraded to CD quality. We're looking forward to testing out those claims.

We were also treated to a sneak-peak at a Blu-ray spinning addition to the range, called the NX-BD3. This will be a fully-featured device, capable of producing a 1080p/24fps picture through its HDMI 1.3 connection.

It will also boast a network connection for BD Live support and streaming of media contained on other DLNA devices. It's even been suggested that this connection will be used to provide a dedicated YouTube channel. The NX-BD3 should be available towards the end of the year.

Finally, if you don't want to go down the one-box system route, JVC does have a standalone Blu-ray deck in development. Details are thin on the ground as the unit isn't likely to see the light of day until 2009, but it was suggested that an HD audio enabled receiver may be released around the same time.