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Home Cinema Systems
SONY BDP-S5100 ★★★★★ £140
Simply astonishing performance and pictures for less than £150. Smart functionality too: you can’t go wrong…
SONY BDP-S790 ★★★★★ £200
What a bargain! Not only is this a superb 2D and 3D Blu-ray player, it is also the first to upscale to 4K ultra high definition.
SONY BDP-S790 ★★★★★ £200
It’s testament to this player’s ability that a deck costing just £200 can also work in a full jazz-hands system like this one.
ONKYO TX-NR515 ★★★★★ £250
Now available for
Continue reading Your essential system set-ups
Our initial feelings on meeting these new Wharfedale Diamonds for the first time were surprise and a little disappointment. Not only had the curved cabinet of the Diamond 10.1 been replaced by a conventionally rectangular box, but it had also been accompanied by an £80 price hike.
While that might at first look like a bad deal for the consumer, it turns out Wharfedale has actually made some bold and fairly expensive changes in the design. There are all new drivers for a start, and the 13cm woven Kevlar mid/bass driver features a new cone and a blended dust
Continue reading Wharfedale Diamond 121
Well, look at the handsome HTC, still heading up this fop 10 in the wake of our Supertest pitting it against the Xperia Z and Samsung’s hotly anticipated Galaxy S4. The One is a masterclass in smart phone craft, from its impossibly clear 1080p screen to its stokable aluminium body, clever Sense 5 skin and Ultra Pixel camera. The S4 might be better for power users, and the xperia Z for mobile movie buffs, but the One finally drags HTC out from under the also-rans.
Super-stylish, ultra-smart and a pleasure to use, the HTC One is a
Continue reading Top Ten SMARTPHONES
A quite remarkable device, this Sony sounds great, has a wonderful picture in 2D or 3D and is crammed with on-demand content including Sony’s own Movies Unlimited. Its trump card is 4K video upscaling: you may not need it yet. but you soon will.
Best for ON-DEMAND FILMS
It’s not the most extravagantly specified Blu-ray player around (though Panasonic’s remote-control app is a joy), but the BDT-220 has the sort of picture- and sound quality to make its price look like a misprint. And that’s our favourite kind of mistake.
Continue reading TOP HOME CINEMA
Sonos multiroom system
With Sonos you can expand your set-up at your leisure — why not start with a budget Play:3. and add a bigger Play:5 later? Then maybe hook up a Connect to your existing hi-fi and router, then add speakers to a Connect: Amp in another room, or a SUB for a bass boost. For a further upgrade, the Arcam rSeries SonLink DAC works a treat with the Connect.
Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6
Our favourite music streamer is only kept from the top spot by the brilliant flexibility of the full Sonos system;
Continue reading Top HI-FI & MUSIC STREAMING
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
The Paperwhite’s 6in touchscreen has 62% more pixels than its predecessor, giving it pin-sharp text, but all you’ll care about is the built-in backlight. It’s a godsend for night-time reading, and even in sunshine the always-on light makes text sharper and ‘pages’ whiter than ever. With a solid build, grippy rubber finish and plenty of fonts, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Plus Amazon’s ecosystem still rules supreme. Feeling skint? The non-touch Kindle is just £70.
A light that could change reading habits — Kindle’s still on top
The age of the
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BELLE AND SEBASTIAN The Third Eye Centre
Download, CD, vinyl
Out now ★★★★
Some bands’ collections of B-sides, remixes and ‘rarities’ are overt barrel-scraping affairs, an exercise in contract fulfilment or an admission of creative bankruptcy. Belle and Sebastian do things rather differently.
After all, this is the band that didn’t include a single on an album until their sixth LP (Dear Catastrophe Waitress) — prior to that all the band’s singles and EPs were stand-alone.
So in the manner of 2005’s Push Barman To Open Old Wounds (which rounded up B-sides and what-have-you from the first five albums),
Continue reading The movies, music and games to test your system
With everything this Samsung plasma has to offer for £700, it’s hard to think of it as anything else but a bargain.
It’s unlikely to win any awards for style, but it’s far from ugly and it’s well-specified. There is Wi-Fi built-in, three HDMIs and two USB inputs. There’s no satellite input, though.
Samsung’s innovative Smart Hub is here just as it is on its £2000+ flagship TVs. Netflix, BlinkBox and LoveFilm are all included, as is the full roster of UK catch-up services. Samsung’s 2013 smart remote is included, offering pared-back controls, easier menu navigation and voice
Continue reading SAMSUNG PS51F5500
Power output 85W per channel • Inputs 5 x line in, tape loop • Outputs Speakers, preamp, tape loop • Remote Yes • Dimensions (hwd) 8 x 43 x 33cm, 13kg
It’s an old favourite of ours, used so often that we don’t bother putting it away anymore.
That’s because it sounds wonderful. There’s a lot to admire on every level. Its presentation is big and powerful, with far greater and authority than we’d expect from a rated output of 85W per channel. Put on anything by Hans Zimmer and the Caspian M2 will easily convince you that
Continue reading ROKSAN CASPIAN M2
The Twenty 23s are diminutive for floorstanders, but the sound they produce belies their size.
PMC uses a transmission-line design to improve bass performance. The rear output of the mid/bass driver forces through a damped path within the cabinet, where most high frequencies are absorbed, leaving the lowest notes to exit the speaker.
Physics are so annoying. Not least because they dictate that a small driver is never going to produce huge volumes or the very deepest bass. And so it goes with the PMC Twenty 23s. These are a speaker of relatively compact dimensions (by floorstander
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