There have been several 'pseudo-surround' technologies over the years, but few work as well as Philips' Sonowave, which is found on this devilishly good-looking system. It's a form of digital signal-processing with steerable sound beams, which directs the surround effects towards the listening position, generating what sounds like genuine 5.1 surround sound.

The system's main unit - styled with a beautiful curved top section and front-loading disc slot - boasts a solid set of features, including HDMI output with 720p/1080i upscaling, MP3, JPEG and DivX playback.

Joining HDMI on the rear panel is an RGB-capable Scart and component video output, plus the front panel sports a USB port that allows you to plug in flash drives, or other devices, and play back multimedia files. You get two sideways-mounted speakers each containing three drivers, and a subwoofer, all of which cosmetically complement the main unit.

This combo knocks out a powerful sound, thanks to the subwoofer's wonderfully deep and punchy bass output - though it occasionally loses control and overpowers the satellites.

Sonowave works wonderfully too, convincingly placing effects behind you and delivering a wide, spacious soundstage. It even accurately positions dialogue in the middle of the soundstage, allowing it to be consistently audible even during the most raucous scenes.

The system is also a dab hand with CDs, producing a clean, undistorted rendition of stereo music material.

What's more, the Philips system delivers top-notch pictures via HDMI. The CG images in 300 are delivered with sharpness and precision, without a trace of MPEG blocking or other artefacts. Rich-yet-natural colours and dense blacks give the image a terrific sense of depth, while motion blur and jerkiness are kept at bay.

Overall, the HTS6510 is a highly impressive system that justifies its lofty price tag with ultra-stylish looks, excellent pictures and solid movie sound - and Sonowave is a revelation.