Sony’s BDV-E370 is one of the best all-in-one systems on the market, offering a tempting range of features and solid performance, so it’s with great anticipation that we check out its bigger brother, the BDV-E870. This system is virtually identical to the E370 except that the front speakers are 610mm high towers, which are more visually striking than the satellites that accompany the E370. These add a premium of around £50 to the price.
The main Blu-ray/receiver unit is the same one that accompanies the E370 and opts for tasteful understatement over Samsung-style exuberance. The low button count on the fascia gives it a surprisingly stark and minimal appearance, plus the gentle white light in the centre is a stylish touch – although at 430(w) x 85(h) x 335(d)mm it’s a chunky box. Jutting out from the bottom is a plinth that houses a few buttons and there’s a USB port on the front that can be used to play music from an iPod or USB storage device.
The rear panel houses a disappointing array of connections. The first thing that jumps out is the lack of HDMI inputs, which means you can’t route other kit through the system and use it as a switcher. Instead, you get two digital audio inputs (one optical, one coaxial) and an analogue stereo input for listening to external sources. Completing the socket selection are component and composite outputs, an FM aerial input and an Ethernet port for the system’s extensive networking functionality.
Like the BDV-E370, the E870 is 3D-ready (although it may require a software upgrade) and as such, the HDMI v1.4 output can carry Full HD 3D signals. All of the speaker terminals on the back are colour-coded plugs as opposed to clumsy springclips, which makes installation a cinch.
If you want to make the rear speakers wireless, then there’s a dedicated slot on the back for Sony’s optional S-Air transmitter (EZW-T100). This transmitter is included in Sony’s wireless speaker upgrade kit (WHAT-SBP2), which also provides an extra pair of speakers to upgrade to a 7.1-channel system.
At 75mm wide, the tower speakers are some of the slimmest around, plus they’re robustly built and coated in a sassy gloss-black finish. They come in two parts that have to be screwed together, and each one sits on a circular base. To minimise clutter the cables can be hidden inside the speaker columns, and the upper section can be wall mounted if need be.
The rest of the system comprises a pair of compact rear satellites, each standing 225mm high and dressed in the same tasteful gloss-black finish as the towers, plus a remarkably slim centre speaker and a subwoofer. This is a passive (non-powered) model, and has a pleasant all-black finish and compact dimensions.