Sony BDV-E880 – now with two HDMIs
This Sony certainly has looks on its side, with elegant, curvaceous speakers and a gently swept-back main unit. The specification has been usefully enhanced, too. Now, finally, you get twin HDMI inputs as part of the deal – a development that makes huge sense given Sony’s status as a manufacturer of games consoles and other source components – while the company’s Bravia Internet Video portal has been polished to ensure it stays competitive.
There’s also an iPod dock supplied, a separate wired design that works well enough, but which is more fiddly than the built-in efforts on some rival models, such as Panasonic’s SC-BT775. Meanwhile, the rear speakers have a subtle backwards tilt, which looks cool and has been designed to help disperse surround effects more widely within your room. The system can be controlled using the standard remote, but the Android and iOS app makes navigating your music and movies a whole lot more fun.
Sony BDV-E880 –Qriocity movie streaming
In fact, this is the only system here to offer high-definition movie streaming, thanks to its Qriocity movie platform. Add to that Lovefilm support and it’s streets ahead of its rivals. Unfortunately, all this online sweetness is soured by the absence of built-in Wi-Fi and the extra cost of the dongle, which will set you back around ￡70.
That’s not our biggest complaint here, 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 of its rivals. Excellent picture quality in both 3D and 2D provides considerable compensation, but not enough to overcome the Sony’s shortcomings.