A good looking and capable system
Adequate pseudo surround effect
Clean DVD playback
Subwoofer can be overzealous
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Micro systems are JVC's bread and butter, and Sophisti, as this little chap is known, is the culmination of the brand's expertise in audio and video miniaturisation.
Squashed into the stylish main unit is a DVD player, RDS tuner and multichannel amplifier. But instead of five speakers, JVC has reduced the rear channels to a brace of drive units inside the front pair, with a sub taking care of bass duties.
The NX-F3 is meant to be your entertainment hub, so has a USB port for connection to a number of sources (MP3 player, USB memory stick, etc) to play video, music and picture files. It also upscales DVD images up to 1080p.
The remote handset will give you control of other devices connected via the HDMI lead, and the unit's flat form factor means it should fit in with your other hi-fi components.
The only flaw in the hub plan is the complete lack of video inputs. An HDMI input would have been perfect for a games console or set-top box, but instead there are only audio inputs.
Psuedo surround sound
In straight stereo the speakers deliver detailed vocals and snappy percussion from the treble and mid frequencies. In 'flat' mode, however, there's an alarming amount of bass from the overzealous sub that muddles the bottom-end; it's a case of turning down the sub volume and bass level to get the right balance.
With movies, the pseudo surround effect does work to a certain degree. There's no substitute for real speakers at the back of the room, but the rear-channel FX projected from the front did have me looking over my shoulder a couple of times.
The four surround modes seem very processed and you can hear the limits of the dynamic range constricting the soundfield, but they genuinely give Dolby and DTS soundtracks some of their intended ambience.
Add in a tidy upscaled 1080p image and DVD-Audio playback, and it's hard not to like the Sophisti system, as long as you don't expect big thrills from its little boxes.
I'd recommend it for an audition – but those with bigger wallets should hunt down its F7 sibling, which, for £200 more, adds K2 audio processing and wood cone drivers for a more refined performance.
Jim is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2007, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT and voyaging in his VW camper van.