The back panel also offers progressive scan-capable component video, S-video, composite and RGB Scart outputs, plus two optical digital audio inputs and stereo audio input. The line up is completed by springclip terminals for the front speakers and passive subwoofer, plus an FM radio antenna input.
The receiver unit handles amplification and generates 250W (RMS) of power, which breaks down as 75W per front channel and 100W for the sub. It’s also equipped with a range of sound technologies, chief among which is Dolby’s Audistry technology, a group of four audio-enhancing modes. They include Sound Space (which widens the stereo soundstage), Natural Bass (which boosts bass, obviously), Intelligent Volume (which keeps sound at a consistent level by reducing loud sounds and increasing quiet ones) and Mono to Stereo (which, er, converts mono to stereo).
These are joined by another Dolby technology, Virtual Speaker, which aims to recreate the missing centre and rear channels by projecting them into the relevant spaces in the room. We haven’t been impressed by this technology on other systems, but perhaps Sharp’s application of it will change our minds.
Rounding up the sound features is a range of presets for specific types of material (News, Sport, Cinema etc) plus bass and treble adjustments. Elsewhere Sharp is keen to emphasise the energy saving aspect of this system, which consumes just 0.6W in standby. Of course it consumes even less if you switch it off at the mains but that doesn’t sound as good on a press release.
The system is easy to install, with the three-part speakers slotting together easily with a neat cable tidy system around the back. However the system’s user interface is basic and ugly, while the remote is cluttered by a sea of tiny buttons and even tinier lettering. It also commits the cardinal sin of using dual-purpose buttons and a Shift key, which has to be held down to access certain functions.
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