Sharp SD-HX500 Wall-Mountable DVD Player/Receiver

Flat-panel TVs have been the rage for a couple of years now, and even if the larger sets are still beyond most budgets, speaker manufacturers are falling over themselves to offer the latest flat-panel-friendly model. Thin is definitely in.

Fast Facts
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD, without stands) main unit, 13 7/8 x 8 1/8 x 3 1/2 inches; amplifier, 13 7/8 x 8 1/8 x 4 3/4 inches WEIGHT main unit, 6 1/2 pounds; amplifier, 11 pounds PRICE $1,200 MANUFACTURER Sharp Electronics,, 800-237-4277
Key Features
• Slim, wall-mountable integrated universal DVD/SACD player/tuner/control center and amplifier • 1-bit digital amplifier rated for 100 watts x 5 into 4 ohms • main unit inputs/outputs coaxial and 2 optical digital audio inputs; 3 analog stereo inputs; proprietary connector to amplifier; composite-, component-, and S-video outputs; optical digital audio output amplifier ins/outs proprietary connector to main unit; speaker outputs via binding posts; subwoofer line-level output

But the Achilles heel of the all-flat motif continues to be the electronics. Regardless of how thin the speakers get, they still need to be powered by a capable amplifier. And any flat TV and surround system would feel naked without a good DVD player. Sharp aims to clear this hurdle with the SD-HX500, a sleek, wall-mountable system comprising a DVD player/control center and a power amplifier.

These days the home theater market is driven as much by design considerations as by function. And in the design department, this baby will turn heads. The combination of the aluminum finish and transparent acrylic trim can hold its own against any flat-TV/speaker combo, while the dimmable discreet blue LEDs add sexy accents.

The brawn of the outfit is the amplifier, which provides banana-plug-compatible binding posts for the five basic main-channel speakers and a line-level subwoofer output. The brains reside in what Sharp calls the Main Unit, which houses an AM/FM tuner, a universal DVD player, and a surround sound processor offering a choice of Dolby Digital, DTS, or Dolby Pro Logic II (DPL II) playback. The two units are connected via a proprietary cable, and only the amplifier has to be plugged into an outlet.

Sharp clearly designed this system for the bedroom and other areas where full integration with other components isn't expected, as evidenced by the lack of video inputs (see "key features"). An optical digital audio output is provided along with component-, composite-, and S-video outputs for the DVD player.

Installation was straightforward and offered no surprises. The units cry out to be mounted directly below a sleek flat-panel TV using the supplied wall brackets, but in my house I had to settle for the slightly less cool table stands. Sharp SD-HX500 back

All the beauty in the world is for naught if she ain't got it where it counts - performance. The amplifier uses Sharp's patented 1-bit digital amplification technology, which samples audio signals at a rate of 5.6 MHz, 128 times faster than a CD. This is claimed to provide a wider dynamic range and more accurate audio reproduction than traditional amplification technologies, and it unquestionably does so with much greater energy efficiency, which is why a 1-bit amp can be much smaller than a traditional amp rated for the same power output.