Arcam Solo Movie 5.1 DVD Receiver

The truth is, if you asked me to design a home theater system without regard to market pressures or consumer expectations, the result would look a lot like the Arcam Solo Movie 5.1 DVD receiver. This British firm's slim, stylish design is a legitimately high-end system masquerading as a single, simple, easy-to-use component.

With very few exceptions, DVD receivers exist only as the electronics halves of price-driven home-theater-in-a-box systems. But Arcam's is another case altogether, delivering such features as upscaled 1080i DVD video, high-resolution SACD and DVD-Audio multichannel playback, high-tech five-channel power, and a good deal more.

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Arcam's design is simply finished but with careful metalwork and deceptive heft that let you know this is no cheapie. Since disc playback is already built in, inputs are limited to just a pair of external audio/video sources - say, a set-top box or DVR and a game console, both accommodated with HDMI, component-, and composite-video inputs. There are no S-video jacks at all, and no multichannel analog audio inputs, so an external source such as a Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD player will be limited to bitstream Dolby Digital or DTS audio. And since the Arcam's video scaler operates only on its internal DVD player, the video from an external source will be displayed as it's received, including 1080p if the TV accepts it. There's an onboard FM/AM tuner but no Sirius or XM radio option.