For every person who loves the idea of 6-foot tower speakers at each corner of the room, there are 20 others who prefer their home theater to be heard but not seen. It's for that latter group that the Sony DAV-IS10 Micro Home Theater System was designed. The system crams an entire 5.1 home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) down to Mini-Me proportions: the 2-way 100-watt subwoofer barely outsizes a couple of phone books, the DVD/CD player head unit is a bit larger than a Mac Mini, and the five satellite speakers are--as Sony's press kit helpfully points out--"about the size of a golf ball." Despite the minuscule size, the DAV-IS10 will include the much of the same impressive features found on Sony's trio of Bravia HTIBs: DVD upscaling to 720p and 1080i via the HDMI output, automated speaker setup (which Sony calls "Digital Cinema Auto Calibration," or DCAC), and HDMI-CEC capability (the ability to control compatible TVs via the IS10's remote when connected via HDMI--"Bravia Theater Sync," in Sony speak). The system also features a Digital Media Port, so it can interface with Sony's quartet of proprietary digital audio accessories--though that's less of an enticement, now that we've been underwhelmed by the first two we've reviewed, the TDM-IP1 iPod dock and the TDM-BT1 Bluetooth interface.
As cool as it looks at first glance, the Sony DAV-IS10 has an uphill battle on two counts: design and price. No matter how small the speakers and system are, they still need to be connected with a spiderweb of wires and cables (conveniently not shown in the Sony product shots). By comparison, the Philips HTS8100 is a two-piece system (a single front speaker with a built-in DVD player and a subwoofer) that needs only three cables--including the power cord and HDMI connection to the TV. And just as important, the Philips--which should be shipping within the next few weeks--retails for the same $800 price point as the Sony. It should be interesting to see how they compare to one another when the DAV-IS10 hits stores in July.
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