Three of the most popular Blu-ray home cinema systems around at the moment are the Sony BDV-E370, Panasonic SC-BT230 and the Samsung HT-C5500. With all of these systems being priced around the £300 mark (best prices), how do you choose between them? We’ve compared them here to try and make it a little easier.

Looks

Sony BDV-E370 Blu-ray Home Cinema SystemIf you’re buying a home cinema system on looks alone (and with the quality of systems these days there is no reason you shouldn’t), then all three of these products will appeal. The HT-C5500 has the typical Samsung sleek clean looks and is attractive enough without being too attention grabbing. The SC-BT230 also has a design very typical of Panasonic and whilst not cutting edge it manages to look solid and good quality. However, by far the most striking here is the Sony BDV-E370 with its sharp edged ‘monolith’ design and slim speakers sure to make an impact in most peoples rooms.

Features

Panasonic SC-BT230 Blu-ray Home Cinema SystemThe feature set on all products is impressive with all three having Wi-Fi capabilities and are DLNA compatible for streaming content – the Sony has it’s Bravia Internet Video, the Panasonic its Viera Cast and the Samsung has the Internet@TV feature. With all of them though you need to purchase the optional wireless dongle if you want to take full advantage. All three also have built in iPod docks, but the auto calibration feature of the BDV-E370 and HT-C5500, and the two HDMI inputs of the HT-C5500 are definite bonuses.

Performance

Samsung HT-C5500 Blu-ray Home Cinema SystemBoth the Panasonic and Samsung have a respectable 1000W (RMS) power with the Sony slightly down at 850W, but they all have enough to fill all but the biggest rooms with sound. The slight lightweight speakers of the BDV-E370 is a slight concern, although being 3D Ready does count in its favour. The Panasonic really does try to drag every little bit of quality out of the high definition Blu-ray format with PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus.

With all three systems being within £30 of each other, and the features being so similar, choosing between them is difficult. If it’s the looks that you want, it’s hard to look past the Sony, and whilst the Panasonic has the best overall quality, it is the Samsung that gives you the most for your money.

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