Love them though we do, there’s no denying that surround sound home cinema systems are hardly practical. Placing a bunch of speakers around your living room and trying – often hopelessly – to hide all the cabling just isn’t our idea of fun.

Cue the Philips HTS8100. Its big USP is the fact that it builds a DVD player, multi-channel amplifier and front and rear speakers into a single metre-long bar arrangement designed beneath or above your TV. In fact, with a depth of just 13cm, it could even partner a wall-mounted TV.

Clever design

The HTS8100 is sumptuously built too, cunningly disguising itself as a mere speaker bar, with the central, vertically mounted DVD tray only materialising when you open its black glass door. Slick.

The bar contains six separate audio drivers configured so that, when driven by Philips’ Ambisound processing, they supposedly create a soundstage that ‘wraps around’ the listener in a surround sound stylee.

The bar doesn’t do bass, though. For this, Philips has provided a large subwoofer that slightly spoils the HTS8100’s tidy aesthetic – though you could always shove it behind the sofa, we suppose.

Of course, you have to connect this sub to the soundbar, meaning the introduction of a single cable. But this is pretty small beer versus the cable spaghetti associated with a full six-speaker set up.

Other tricks up the HTS8100’s sleeve include HD upscaling of your DVDs all the way to 1080p, Faroudja’s DCDi processing for removing jaggedness over contoured edges, plus, in a clear bid to win us Stuffers to its cause, a free iPod dock.

This iPod dock attaches via another pesky wire, but hey - who cares about a bit of cabling mess when an iPod is involved.

Stuff says... 

Philips HTS8100 review

It never quite sounds like a true surround system, but the HTS8100 still hits a near-perfect balance between style, convenience and performance

Where to buy Philips HTS8100: