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In today's style-conscious climate, the way in which you display your flatscreen TV is almost as important as the TV itself. As a result AV furniture is getting more and more eye-catching, as manufacturers attempt to emulate the cutting-edge characteristics of your average plasma or LCD set.
But a handful of manufacturers have taken the idea to the next logical step by integrating home cinema components into the stand itself, which not only keeps potentially ugly boxes neatly hidden away but also leaves more room for your other kit - and let's face it, with Blu-ray players, AV receivers, digital TV boxes, video recorders and games consoles vying for space under your TV, you need all the help you can get.
All of which brings us neatly to Sharp's AN-PR1500H, a home cinema rack with a built-in DVD player and 2.1-channel speaker system. It's a neat concept, and with its glossy piano-black finish we can imagine it going down really well with owners of similarly styled TVs (which is pretty much all of them these days), although its bulky, blocky design means it's not the most elegant piece of AV furniture we've ever laid eyes on.
Assembly is easy. Once you've lifted it out of the box (a job we recommend asking a friend to help with) the two subwoofers flip down to form the stand's legs, plus there's a wooden shelf that sits between them and a reinforced glass top cover for your TV to sit on - the whole assembly process is over in ten minutes without a screwdriver in sight.
The space above the bottom shelf is around 220mm high, which should allow you to squeeze in a healthy range of components. As for the top shelf, Sharp designed the rack to house TVs up to 46in, which is a bit cautious given that the maximum load for the top shelf is 80kg and Sharp's 46in sets only weigh about 30kg. In truth, it could probably house TVs up to 60in.
On the front is a large panel that houses the DVD loading slot (the only indication of the player inside), a collection of buttons (including play, stop and volume) and two microphone inputs, revealing that the sound system can also be used as a karaoke machine (shudder). It's joined by a USB port and in the centre is an informative display that shows the selected source, chapter number, elapsed time and the current audio settings.