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Bose Lifestyle 235 review - When size no longer matters

Mahananda Bohidar | Updated on August 17, 2011

Images shot for BOSE Corp, AB Marcy Pery, AD Various

In the age of small cars and condos, the age-old adage ‘bigger is better' has taken a backseat. At a time when everything is getting compact and space-efficient, few of us would want a home theatre system that takes up as much space as a king-sized bed! Petit is in and for those of us who want a not-so-elaborate setup without having to compromise on the home theatre experience, there are a couple of options in the market. The Lifestyle 235, 2.1 channel system Home theatre system from Bose seems to fit the bill rather nicely. We hooked it up for a long-term review and here's what we have to tell you.

Unboxing

The Bose Lifestyle 235 comes with the Media Console, an Acoustimass module that performs the role of a sub-woofer in the system, two Gemstone ES speaker arrays (with rubber feet in case you want them mounted on the wall), an ADAPTiQ headset and an iPod dock.

‘Unify'ing it

Once you wire up the system and switch the main console on you'll be guided through a couple of steps by Bose's Unify intelligent integration system that helps you with the initial set-up.

After this, you'll find yourself meandering through a ‘Connection Setup' guide which lets you hook up various audio-video sources to the Lifestyle 235. The list of devices you have the option to connect with the home theatre system is quite exhaustive – Blu-ray Disc player, DVD player, Cable box, Set top box, gaming system, Apple TV – to name a few.You can also choose to run through ADAPTiQ, an audio calibration system that takes about 10 minutes to analyse your room dimensions and acoustic characteristics to maximise the audio effects of the Lifestyle 235 accordingly.

With the ‘Source' button on the Bose remote you can shuffle through all the devices that have been hooked up with the Lifestyle 235. We had our iPod Nano (and later an iPod Touch) docked with the system and tried out a couple of songs after we had gone through most of the ‘Unify' steps.

Grooving to the beats

We tried out the percussion-heavy Sufi track ‘Man Yeh Baawra' (from Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi) with some bold and complex vocals which played back quite well on the Lifestyle 235. We went on to try the mellow Hallelujah (the Jeff Buckley cover) and with minimal music and a strong focus on vocals much like ‘Let's Call The Whole Thing Off', the duet by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and both the tracks were a treat to listen to in the Lifestyle 235.

While we were listening to music, apart from adjusting the Bass and treble levels on the system we also had the option to choose between two audio compression presets – ‘Smart Volume' and ‘Enhance Dialogue'. This feature is not something that brings about a marked difference in the sound quality when you are listening to music; you'd be better off toying with the two options while watching ‘Independence Day' or ‘The Devil Wears Prada'.

The system is ‘Made for iPod/ iPhone' and works with all Apple products featuring a click wheel. Apart from music, the system also lets you playback videos that you might have stored in your iPod. The exception, of course, was a range of old generation iPods that do not support video playback.We tried out some music videos and podcasts that we had stored on the iPod Touch and both played back decently on the HD telly and the sound quality was as good as the music playback earlier.

Benchmarks

The Gemstone ES speakers that the Lifestyle 235 comes with delivered decent detail while audio played back almost as efficiently as the higher-end Jewel Cubes, although compared to the latter the Lifestyle 235 did lose out on the depth and overall loudness during playback. The patented Gemstone ES speakers deliver superior sound from within a compact 2.1-channel system unlike the nautilus-shaped port and Direct/Reflecting speaker technology of the premium Jewel Cubes.

Also, the Lifestyle 235 is a definite improvement upon a similar 2.1-channel setup from Bose, the 3.2.1 GS Home Entertainment System. While certain features like high-def video playback, Videostage 5 decoding and the Acoustimass Module remain the same, the Lifestyle 235 ups the audiophile quotient a notch by using a revamped version of Gemstone speaker (Gemstone ES arrays) which have three drivers in each speaker and create a wider soundstage than the original ones. Other additions include a bunch of multimedia input/output sources which include four HDMI connections (three in, one out) and two HD audio connections.

One last word

One niggle for households with older-generation displays could be the fact that the only option you are given for a video-out source is an HDMI one. There are two USB slots (front and rear), however, you can only view JPEG files from external storage USB plug-ins. All the software updates on your system will be done via the USB ports.

However, as a system that's ultra-compact, pretty easy to setup, with just two speakers and yet capable of reproducing rich detail, the Lifestyle 235 is an ideal system for a nuclear family.

Rs 1.63 lakh

Love – Typical Bose sound quality from small speakers

Hate – Restricted USB playback, clunky remote control

Published on March 16, 2011

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