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Fresh from dipping its toe into the Blu-ray pool with the BD-HP20H, Sharp now turns its attention back to DVD with a new 2.1-channel system, the HT-DV50H. Interestingly, the company seems to have abandoned the traditional concept of 5.1 altogether, with no six-channel systems in its current range - a reflection of the ‘less is more' attitude that pervades the current home cinema market.
The HT-DV50H is the best-specified system of the two, offering elegant tall boy speakers instead of the smaller satellites that come with the cheaper HT-DV40H. The speakers are finished in gloss black and perched on a circular stand - an extremely fashionable design that makes the perfect accompaniment to a plasma or LCD TV.
The main DVD receiver unit is equally stylish and beautifully built, sporting a fetching black/silver finish and a discreet disc slot instead of a tray. The large volume dial is surrounded by a bright blue light that's a little overbearing but at least it's easy to find in the dark. What's more, its narrow width makes it more compact than most systems.
The receiver's silver section drops down to reveal a headphone jack and USB port, which allows you to connect card readers or flash drives and play back MP3, WMA, JPEG and DivX files. DivX downloaders will be pleased to note that it supports all versions of the format, and a registration code in the setup menu lets you play back video-on-demand. All of these compressed media files can also be played back from CD or DVD.
As is customary for a system designed to accompany the latest flatpanel TVs, the HT-DV50H is equipped with an HDMI output, which offers 576p, 720p and 1080i output. Given Sharp's experience in creating hi-def TVs, it knows only too well the potential advantages of feeding a pre-upscaled 1080p picture into a Full HD TV, so it's surprising not to find this format included here.