The big screen comes of age

2005 review Home cinema The story If you had a plasma screen at the start of 2005, chances are you were either a Premiership footballer or a drug dea

2005 review Home cinema

The story If you had a plasma screen at the start of 2005, chances are you were either a Premiership footballer or a drug dealer. By the end of the year, however, if your screen was more than an inch thick you were clearly a social leper. Quite a change, but not surprising when you consider that for the first time, 42in plasmas started selling for less than £1000 – and cable viewers were able to access hi-def broadcasts.

The highs Sky continues to dominate TV in the UK – the year began with a new, 160GB version of Sky+ and ended with previews of the forthcoming high-def TV service at the Best of Stuff Show in London. In the middle, Sky even had time to take on digital radio, with the Sky Gnome wireless audio doodah. Meanwhile home cinema audio finally started to become realistic – after the excesses of eight-channel surround, products from Kef, Denon and Yamaha made it possible to enjoy surround sound from two speakers.

The lows High-definition screens would seem to require a superior disc format – but because two oh-so-similar rivals (Blu Ray and HD-DVD) are vying to be the successor to DVD, both could fail. With consumers reluctant to back the wrong horse, the market looks likely to stagnate until hard-drive video recorders and movie downloads render next-gen optical discs irrelevant.

Home cinema product of the year We fell in love with the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 7, but balked at the £6000 price tag (for a 32in LCD!) and so eventually settled on the gorgeous Philips 32PF9830. It’s the best LCD on the market, it also features phat ‘Ambilight’ tech – neon underlights for your pimped TV.

Tomorrow's: MP4 on the march