• $300
  • Portable audio-player input
  • Five-disc DVD/CD player
Sony's entry-level home-theater-in-a-box, the DAV-DX255, manages to fit a couple of surprises into its relatively low price point of $300. For one, it can hold five discs at a time that are slot loading instead of carousel loading. It can also play SACs. Yes, you read that right. This $300 system can play that beloved Sony-backed audiophile format—Super Audio Compact Disc. We could talk about the pluses and minuses of using a $300 system to listen to SACDs, but, no matter what, SACDs will sound better than regular CDs. To complement its ability to read SACDs, the player will also recognize a myriad of other formats, including burned DVDs, MP3s, and VCDs.

The contents are what you would expect—a DVD player, five speakers, and a subwoofer. The speakers are in three different sizes—fronts, a center, and surrounds—and they weigh less than 2 pounds each. Their construction is decent and solid for the price, and that extends to the DVD player, as well. The volume knob especially has a great feel and response.

Included with the system is a microphone to assist with speaker setup and balance. When you hold the microphone at the listening position and press a couple of buttons, the Digital Signal Processing will adjust the system's placement and delay electronically. In the menu is the option of selecting different speaker layouts to suit your room. The system also automatically changes the equalization to match the source material, depending on whether it is music or a movie.

The DAV-DX255 could act as a good small-apartment or dorm-room initiation into home theater. With the added bonus of SACD compatibility, it could also help foster an interest and appreciation of high-quality sound playback.