Home cinema systems have come a long way from being the poor man's surround-sound setup. The systems featured below have features that set them apart from separates, and they've all been made by quality manufacturers too. Only one is an actual 5.1 system, but they all have genuinely interesting features that make them worth a look for the bedroom.
The KEF KIT 100 astounded us with its high-quality audio reproduction for movies. Its biggest attraction is that it can process a DTS soundtrack and output a virtual surround soundtrack from the two speakers and subwoofer. True, the system is less convincing with music, lacking precision in the bass, but the system looks so damn stylish that we can forgive it that. If you like to watch movies in bed but don't want to lose any of the aural impact, make sure your next system is the KEF.
Phlips' HTS8000S is another 2.1 system, except that it has been specifically designed to go with a flat-screen display. The DVD player stands tall and upright, the speakers are thin and the subwoofer can even be hung on the wall. Unlike most home cinema systems, it can also play DivX files and high-definition Super Audio CDs. Loads of cables are needed to tie the system together, and the subwoofer really is ugly, but it's an excellent sounding system for the money.
The Denon S-101 is a lifestyle system from the Japanese specialist that's designed to be the audiophile's iPod stereo. It does feature a DVD player, and there are two speakers and a subwoofer, but it's the first home cinema system to offer direct iPod connectivity. It will also throw the familiar iPod interface up on the screen, allowing you to control Apple's MP3 player directly from the remote control. Like all Denon gear, this is a classy-looking and high-performing system, and while it's more expensive than mainstream systems, it's certainly not overpriced.
With its second system in this roundup, Philips has again offered something different to its competitors. The LX7500R isn't the best-sounding system in this group, despite being the only 5.1 setup, but it does offer DVD recording at a price that's not much more than systems with simple DVD players. It's a great-looking system too, and it has progressive-scan video support for high-quality pictures on a flat screen. It can also play SACD discs. You're still better off buying a dedicated 5.1 system and a separate DVD recorder, but in this system the recording features don't carry much of a premium anyway.