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Sony Playstation 3 PS3 Console with 40GB HDD
To start with I'm not biased, I used to own a 360 & only sold it to buy a Wii plus a stand alone HD player. As much as I love the Wii if you want serious games (GTA IV, etc) then you've gotta go for the 360 or PS3. I decided to go for the PS3 this time due to the fact that the 360 is so prone to breaking with problems such as the ring of death.
The PS3 feels better built, runs a lot quieter than the 360 & doesn't have that brick of a power block! For looks the PS3 wins hands down in my opinion.
The fact that it's a Blu-ray player as well is a massive bonus especially now that the HD format war has been decided in favour of Blu-ray. It's as good as my stand alone HD DVD player for picture & sound.
Gaming is superb, I have Ratchet & Clank, GT5 Prologue, Burnout Paradise, GTA IV, Call of Duty 4, Singstar, PES 2008 & Drake's: unchartered which are all superb games. Yeah we all know about 360's superior back catalogue but are you really going to play all of them????! For me the graphics on the PS3 are crisper than the 360.
Online is free which is a bonus & I think future compatability has been thought of much more with regards to the PS3 over the 360. The only thing I do miss about the 360 was online gaming with friends as I had approx 30 mates who owned 360's whereas due to its later release, only 4 of my mates own a PS3 but more are on the way!
I also own a PSP, again this means the PS3 comes in to its own. The compatability of remote play between the 2 consoles means you can watch film or listen to music stored on your PS3 anywhere in the world direct to your PSP!
All in all if you're going for a next gen console then this is the one to go for. I loved my 360 but the PS3 is already better & will improve even more once programmers get to know the superior proccessing power of the console better. This price on Play.com (£229.99 at time of review) is an absolute bargain & wont be beaten elsewhere, buy it!!!
Logic3 TX101 / SoundStage 5.1 Surround Sound Cinema Speaker System / Soundbar
I am really pleased with this purchase from Play.com. If, like I was, you are looking for a system for a normal living room without all of the extra wires & speakers then look no further than this system.
The most important thing to remember & this has to come first: this does not replicate a dedicated 5.1 system & that is obvious as the speakers are all in front of you & in one area BUT..... It does give an excellent cinema soundtrack to any DVD or HD DVD which is pretty similar. I have my Soundstage hooked up to the Toshiba HD-EP30 HD player & the Matrix, for example, blows you away. The lobby scene still makes the bullets fly around your head in your living room, it's just not as pinpoint & more of a surrounding feeling. Put it this way, it sounds better than the dedicated 5.1 Philips HTS3154 system that it has replaced in my set up & that wasn't a bad system!
The noise levels are clear & there is plenty of quality sound (the subwoofer is powerful enough for any normal to large front room).
It was ridiculously easy to set up & it took about 5 mins from unboxing! It really is very neat & tidy, albeit large, & this was the remit from my wife.
There was an optical cable supplied as well as RCA which was an added bonus. Here lies my only minor gripe, on the spec listed by Play it states that the Soundstage can decode DTS. My EP30, according to the manual, should provide multi channel audio via optical to an AV that can decode DTS. However, the Soundstage does not play audio from the EP30 in multi channel, it defaults to 2 channel. It will do 5.1 via 2 channel though & the system sounds amazing in 5.1 (2 channel) so don't let that put you off. I may be wrong & I have e-mailed the guys at Logic3 for clarification re: DTS.
I use the theory that if this is the type of system you're shopping for then you wouldn't get any difference in the multi channel anyway so its not an issue really.
I reckon that for under £200 you'd be hard pushed to find a better stand alone 5.1 unit that is of such a high quality, sounds this good & ticks all of the boxes for a good home audio set up without the clutter. As the reviewer earlier suggested I give this 5 stars simply because if this is the type of set up you need it's perfect for the job!
Toshiba HD-EP30 HDMI Upscaling DVD Player With HD DVD High Definition Playback (Includes 2 Free HD DVD Titles!)
This is a great HD DVD player. The picture is crisp with vibrant colours and a definate big improvement to the XBOX 360 HD add on that it has replaced.
The player needed a Firmware update on set up via ethernet which took approx 30 mins but once done it was up & ready within a minute. It even had an HDMI cable supplied in the box & was ready to go.
Planet Earth looks simply stunning in HD on this player as does evrything else I've thrown at it. The fact that 300 & Bourne Supremecy come with it, with a further 5 on the way in the post, is just the cream on the cake.
I bought this player through Play & it was deleivered within 2 days of order. I bought my player at £209.99 & I see it is now £199.99 which makes it even more of an essential buy! Especially if you consider that you're getting approx £130+ worth of HD DVD'S with it, that makes this player a no brainer. BUY IT!