Lifestyle 28 Series II
Having recently looked at the Bose GSX 3.2.1 and feeling our pockets burning at the price, we weren't looking forward to checking the price of the 5.1 speaker Bose Lifestyle 28 Series II home theatre. Several heart attacks later, we came to grips with the price you see above. As with the 2.1speaker system, the product is reasonably good, but the price simply cannot be justified.
- Sounds pretty good
- Costly beyond belief, No proper high definition outputs, Lacks features
Whilst the sound quality might be above average with no real component or HDMI connections and a price tag that rivals the economy of New Zealand we cannot in good faith recommend this unit. There are better sounding, more fully featured packages for one third of the price.
Price$ 4,999.00 (AUD)
We were much more impressed with the sound quality of this system than of the 2.1. The surround field was excellently utilized, with great three dimensional placement. Motorcycles and helicopters would sweep in from off screen and the sound would travel across beautifully. There were occasions when we found this transition to be a little hasty, but overall we were very pleased.
Similarly, the quality and detail of the sound was stellar, particularly the mid and high ranges which had a great, liquid feel to them. The sound was refined and had a lot of clarity, as we'd expect from a sophisticated company like Bose. Bass was one area that was a little lacking however. It was superior on this system to the GSX but was still lacking the punch needed to make a truly enjoyable movie experience. Even with an absolutely enormous sub-woofer, we weren't as engaged with the sound as we had been with other systems. Still, sound quality as a whole was above average with this system.
Unfortunately, price tag aside, there was another critical factor that really hurts this unit; a complete lack of high definition video outputs. You have two choices for connecting the system to your television, RCA or S-video. There is no component, no VGA, no DVI and certainly no HDMI. What Bose does is include a small adapter that will transform one component signal to either RCA or S-video, theoretically allowing such a connection. In practice however the transition only serves to lose signal quality.
In the age of high definition panels and big screen televisions anyone with a decent setup absolutely must be running component cables at the very least. The difference between component and RCA is quite substantial and it is unforgivable not to include one, if not more, on a home theatre setup. We're certainly never watching anything through an RCA connection again, and we know most people with some education on the subject feel the same.
Aside from our eyes, image quality was the primary victim of the lack of inputs. Running through RCA we found the DVD quality to be merely average when lined up against a basic alternative hooked up through component. RCA results in less clarity and a lot more aberrations across the screen and whilst the DVD player itself seemed to be above average it could not escape the limitations of this format. We also discovered the Bose was very restrictive in the discs that it could play. No copied DVDs would work at all, and even our region four Lord of the Rings disc was rejected, which is strange considering it has worked in every other player we have looked at. If you own multi-region discs, or backed up copies then this will definitely prove a problem.
Not only is the system lacking with regards to inputs but its set of features leaves a lot to be desired as well. We could find no options for Dolby Digital, DTS or any sort of third party sound formats at all. We have never seen a home theatre system that didn't have a few of the basic Dolby modes (Pro Logic, Pro Logic II, EX etc) so it came as quite a shock to find them absent here. What's more, there are none of the pre-programmed modes like "Hall" or "Jazz club" that you find on many other systems. Bose offer a basic menu system, with which you can tweak bass and treble balance and the volume of surround sound. The system also comes with a calibration kit comprised of a DVD and microphone that works in unison to configure the system to suit your environment. While this kit was a nice touch, we still felt ultimately unsatisfied by the feature-set of this Lifestyle 28..
Bose is consistently strong in terms of design and this model is no exception. Bearing a colour scheme and shape not entirely dissimilar to the Playstation 3, it will match a modern home entertainment setup. The speakers are tiny and entirely black and have a nifty but quite useless feature whereby the top half of the speaker can be twisted to a angle independent of the bottom half. We thought it was cool at first, but upon review we realized there really wasn't much use for it short of spreading the sound over a wider area. The subwoofer is similarly coloured and absolutely huge and you will need to take its presence into account when clearing a space for this system.
We must also note that for some bizarre reason, the DVD player requires an external power supply just to operate properly. We've never seen a DVD player that needed this before; generally it happens for games consoles and a few other hefty electronics, but never a home theatre setup. It may not make a difference to many people, but the ugly and quite large black box will definitely get in the way.
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