Greetings everyone! This is my first time starting a thread & reviewing anything on AVS Forum, so please be gentle...
Last month I purchased one of the last Sony HT-CT500
Sound Bars left in Phoenix, AZ at the local Fry's Electronics, hoping for a small footprint solution for my home theater needs.
I found that the soundbar produced enough volume and did a great job of integrating my inputs (PS3, DirecTV HDDVR, HDMI Laptop) but I didn't care for the lack of true surround sound, especially when watching movies and HD television programs.
So I went back to Fry's Electronics, and spoke with a salesman about the brand new Sony BDV-E770W
. It was a $250 more than the Sony Soundbar, but it had tons more to offer: internet radio (Slacker
); Video On Demand (Sony's Qriocity
), an XMB similar to the Playstation 3, and best of all... wireless surround speakers. The two wireless rear speakers (TA-SA200WR) use the Sony S-AIR technology to communicate with the main unit by means of a medium sized box & amplifier, and are the same size as the front left/right speakers and have a 167w max output.
I was immediately impressed with the amount of sound produced by such small speakers
, according to the Sony specifications it has 1000w total system output. If you see them in person, you will be surprised at how loud these little speakers can get.
The first difficulty I encountered was the total lack of HDMI inputs.
It does allow for two digital audio inputs- an optical input for "TV" and a digital PCM input for "SAT/CABLE". Luckily my Sony Bravia TV (KDL-46W3000
) has several HD inputs, so I was able to use the component out for my DirecTV HD DVR HR22-100
, HDMI in from the Sony BDV-E770W, HDMI in from my laptop PC, and HDMI from my PS3. If DirecTV decides to start broadcasting everything in 1080p, I might need to get an HDMI input box, but until then I'm fine with 1080i.
It took about 2 hours to get everything unpacked, all the cables routed in my armoir, pair the S-AIR surround speakers with the main unit, and let the auto-configure microphone set the levels for each speaker. The XMB style interface is quite similar to my Bravia TV & the PS3 I own, so navigation was pretty easy. Configuring the WiFi was probably the biggest pain, and took me quite a few times through manual configuration and trial & error before it recognized my network. Perhaps this part of the setup would have been easier if it had better WiFi reception, as the included USB dongle is not very powerful.
After hooking everything up, I played a few minutes of the new Avatar Blu-ray and was amazed at how full the surround sound is, in addition to the superb downward-facing subwoofer. Sound quality gets a 10/10, and from what my ears can detect it remains clear and undistorted throughout the sonic range.
I haven't been able to test every internet feature yet, but Slacker radio works great, I especially like the selection of different genres available. Pandora isn't currently supported by this version of firmware, but I was told by a Sony Support rep via chat that it will be available in June. Hopefully Pandora will allow me to sign in and use my customized channels, I really enjoy the customization over the Slacker options.
Going forward I will be testing out more of the internet features, Qriocity, perhaps improving my wifi reception
-Bravia Sync works with my TV
-Amazing sound from a very small footprint
-Wireless USB dongle has very poor reception compared to my PS3
-Mirror finish on the front is a fingerprint magnet
-Pandora doesn't work just yet
-I'll have to keep an eye out for firmware update problems, as a few other early adopters have reported via the SonyStyle product reviews. I bought mine yesterday and checked for a network update, but thankfully it looks like it was updated prior to packaging or they have pulled the update.
-Getting my Logitech Harmony 520 remote to work with the receiver will take some time in order to get all the macros working correctly.
-Wireless reception is pretty lame and the best I can get is 30% strength from where it is currently located. I may set up a WiFi repeater node in the armoir where the TV & components are located.
I will do my best to answer any replies, or questions sent via PM, and I look forward to following this initial review with a follow-up review in a few weeks.