If you ask anyone what makes a great home theater system, they'll probably say the same thing. They'll say huge, expensive, famous-brand speakers that make the windows rattle. That's how it has always been, but with the new HTCT 500, people might start to change their minds. Many people have seen what this switch from over 7 speakers to just 4 can do.
The technology is actually similar to the wave radio, which has been around for a while. It's a sound bar that produces sound waves in, basically, the same way, causing them to continuously bounce off the walls, making it surround you. Having it this way means it's not about having a lot of speakers, it's about having an acoustic room, although that's not much of a worry. It is supposed to be designed to work in almost any room.
What stands out so much about this piece of equipment is that it's not like other speakers; it's shaped like a thin, short bar. In addition, it requires the assistance of two other speakers, rather than four. These two speakers, much like a 4-speaker setup, offer the effect of area-specific sound, like something that happens in a specific location in a movie. And, of course, a subwoofer completes the ensemble, providing the increased bass affect.
Generally, people that care about their particular home theater care about how it looks. Having this sound bar with only 3 other speakers is likely to compromise the physical aspect of having an entertainment center. Chances are, the skimpy little bar is not likely to inspire aw in your friends when they see it, even if the actual quality does.
The other issue is the price. It's not higher than expected, considering it's quality, but what you're physically getting is not much of a trade off. So not only will it probably not make your guest's jaws drop, but you'll pay pretty much exactly what you would for 7 speakers (around $ 500). That is, of course, if that's a personal expectation of yours.
It does make up for it in convenience, however. Not having as many speakers means not having as many cords, of course, which I'm sure everyone as a problem with. Not to mention that a more compressed, sized speaker means you can put it in a greater variety of places (great for small apartments!). So what you lose in presence, you make up for in convenience.
And to help give it that extra push of assurance, Sony puts their name on the product directly. It may not seem like a worth investment, especially because of it's price compared to its size. However, a company with a reputation like Sony's is likely to change a few people's minds, what with home theater being their specialty.
The HTCT 500 is not really something new, as the technology has been out for a while. It also does not really create something that was never there before, especially if you already have a 5.1 or similar setup. The only real difference is that it's more compact, and in this day and age that stands for a lot. So for that, alone, it is impressive.