Cambridge Audio gets into the speaker base market with the TV 5. It's a massive platform that will support any flat screen TV whose base will fit on its 29" wide x 12" deep top and it delivers both the tasteful design and audio quality the brand is known for at a $399 list price.
The design is clean and the options simple. There an optical audio in, a pair of RCA audio jacks and a 3.5mm Aux in. The TV 5 also features a Bluetooth connection via the high-quality aptX standard and will remember up to 8 paired devices. This makes the unit an effective substitute for a wireless stereo setup in your TV room. Unlike some of its competitors, Cambridge Audio excels at music reproduction and that that's a key advantage here.
There are two 6.5" speakers that act as subwoofers, using whatever furniture you place it on for extra resonance. There are four audio settings: Film, TV, Music and Voice. It's hard to distinguish the Film and TV settings (maybe a bit more bass on the Film) but the Music setting offers less of the "surround sound" processing these devices promise and the Voice setting compresses the midrange to make the dialog easier to understand in a large or crowded room (or if you're old and losing your hearing).
The remote is well-designed and easy to use in the dark, even though it would be a bit better if the volume buttons were a slightly different size or shape then the Bluetooth and pairing buttons above. The Mute button is huge and easy to find by touch. Check out the detailed image at the end of the post for details.
There's a smaller TV 2 model (22" wide by 13.5" deep) with only one 6.5" speaker underneath, available for $299. If it's just about audio quality, Cambridge Audio delivers another excellent product. Two small warnings, though. The company's design signature seems to be one small light that's always on when their speakers are engaged. That light's noticeable in a dark room and might make you think of a computer webcam's on light while you're watching a movie. The unit is also aiming to be environmentally responsible: it turns itself off after a few seconds if there's no sound coming from the TV. If you're someone who always mutes the commercials, you're going to have a 1-2 lag while the audio comes back on after a commercial. It doesn't really bother me, but I've been in the room with others who found it incredibly irritating. Maybe the UK engineers who designed the box watch mostly commercial-free programming over there or maybe British commercial breaks are shorter and they didn't plan for our extended network advertising over here.
Still, this is the best-sounding TV platform I've heard. If you can deal with those minor issues, you won't go wrong with this one.
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