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Turning our attention to the speakers, the front and rear satellites look identical but there are some minor differences – the fronts use a two-driver array, with a 20mm tweeter and 65mm woofer, while the rears sport a single full-range driver. All four stand 225mm tall, sport an unremarkable but inoffensive design and can be wall-mounted if you wish.
The centre is long and thin, making placement easy in your AV rack. The sub meanwhile has all the hallmarks of a one-box woofer, with light, hollow bodywork and nothing but a set of springclips on the back, but at least the gloss-black finish and curvy port make the front look presentable.
Glancing down the spec sheet, there’s a few other features worth mentioning in passing – Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding, Dolby Pro Logic II, a trio of noise reduction modes (mosquito, block and random), picture presets for light and dark rooms, JPEG playback from Blu-ray, DVD and CD, a range of sound modes and an FM radio tuner.
Unusually for an all-in-one system, the BDV-E300 comes with an automatic calibration mode, which makes it much easier to optimise than most systems at this price. Simply plug the supplied mic into the port on the back and select the relevant mode in the setup menu – it runs through the process in seconds and shows you the results at the end. You can set all the speaker distances and levels manually but there’s really no need, as its results are right on the money.
The operating system is virtually the same as Sony’s standalone players, give or take a few system-specific settings, which means the menu design is gorgeous. Once again Sony deploys the Xross Media Bar to organise the various functions into intersecting axes, and it’s bursting with simple icons, vibrant colours and clear text. We also love the way it skates smoothly from option to option. Everything is a breeze to configure, from AV options through to the trickier network settings, and that’s an important attribute for a system aimed at Blu-ray beginners.
The remote is a little too congested above and below the central ring of menu controls, but once you’ve orientated yourself it’s actually more intuitive to use than it first looks. The biggest flaw is that the volume buttons are far too low down to reach comfortably.