Sony DVD Dream System
Far be it for me to expound the simplicity of a system's hookup. My home system is a wreck, with wires running hither and thither that I trip on almost daily. Oh what a tangled web I've woven! Yet my M&K THX speakers sound excellent, and my video system (a Panasonic DVD player and an RCA 36-inch TV) is a godsend. This is my main system, and my conscience would be partly cloudy with a slight chance of regret if I were to bring another system into my house (especially into my bedroom). But when Sony sent me the DVD Dream System (which is perfect for a second system), the trumpets sounded, and I suddenly found myself wearing a red cape and spandex outfit with the letters "EHW" scrawled across the front. I was, for a short while, Easy Hookup Woman (and I don't mean that lewdly, men in the audience).
I've never experienced such ease when connecting a system. The DVD Dream System (DAV-S300) includes a receiver with Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, and DTS decoding, a DVD/CD player, a digital amplifier (6 by 30 watts), and a tuner—all in one chassis. There are also five identical miniature satellite speakers with 2¾-inch full-range drivers, along with a passive subwoofer. Each speaker is clearly labeled (left, right, center, etc.) with a colored sticker on back. The included speaker wire is also color-coded. Simply plug the wire's car-stereo-like spade connector into the receiver's color-coded audio outputs and insert the wire's tinned ends into the corresponding speaker's spring clips. Then, all you need to do is plug the receiver into the wall and run an S-video cable (there are also two A/V ins and outs) from your TV to the main chassis. Voilà.
Before I tell you how my evaluation went, let me take a moment to comment on the build quality of the Dream System. When I took it out of the box, its shiny cast-aluminum front panel (a swank alternative to the black components we're so bored with) bedazzled me. Especially impressive was the main chassis. It has a very solid feel, with a tidy DVD/CD door and hefty buttons and knobs that feel reliable when you touch them. The refreshing greenish tint on the front panel's LCD display is sort of old-school car-radio style. The preprogrammed remote is also very intuitive and well-laid-out, with a flip-down door to house lesser-used buttons. The only drawback is that it's not backlit. The speakers are like sturdy, stocky soldiers on a mission to bring you quality sound from all parts of the room. Meanwhile, the subwoofer holds down the fort at its station up front (although it was the only component whose build quality did not match that of the others). For this level of quality, 600 bones is a steal.