With a considerably higher price tag than most of its rivals, the DAV-X1V needs to pull something special out of the bag. It gets off to a great start features-wise, with a five-disc DVD player being the most notable advantage. That means die-hard couch potatoes can watch five movies in a row without leaving their seat (toilet breaks permitting).

The main unit also features video upscaling to 720p and 1080i - a boon for HD-ready TV owners - and an automatic sound calibration mode to optimise the audio output for your room's acoustics. It's joined by other handy features like MP3, DivX and JPEG playback, with SACD support being the icing on the cake.

Sony hasn't skimped on the system's design either, dressing the main unit in an elegant matt-black finish and shiny metallic trim, joined by dashing silver satellites and a stylish sub.

There's no Scart output on the rear panel, which shouldn't matter if you're hooking it up to a flatpanel TV, but there are component, S-video and composite video outputs to cater for your analogue needs.

The pictures on offer from the HDMI output are of the highest order, bursting with colour and detail and enjoying complete freedom from ugly video artefacts. Images look almost three-dimensional, thanks to the excellent black levels that help the dramatic visuals of 300 come alive in all their brilliant, brutal glory.

Likewise, sound quality is magnificent. The well-made stereo speakers manage to convey effects, dialogue and music at loud volumes without showing any signs of strain. What's more, the resulting sound is packed with sonic detail, and the centre focus mode plants speech in the middle of the screen.

S-Force Front Surround technology offers a wide, expansive soundstage that adds real energy to movies soundtracks, while the subwoofer blasts out chunky bass that underpins the action nicely.

It may be expensive (approx £850), but with great sound, pictures and features, the DAV-X1V is well worth the investment.