Pros: Great connectivity options (3 HDMI inputs, 3 Optical inputs, 1 Coaxial); awesome sound from a little package; simple to setup and operate; Price.
Cons: All connections run through subwoofer; sound bar placement can be difficult if using TV stand.
As mentioned above, the main feature that is the systems best asset is its connectivity. The system features 3 HDMI inputs, 3 optical inputs, 1 coax input, 1 stereo RCA input, and 1 DMport input (never used this and probably never will). All A/V connections are located on the systems subwoofer, which can make placement difficult which I’ll get into later. The 3 speaker sound bar has a standard black finish and front grill and is very sleek and unobtrusive. The subwoofer isn’t very large, it’s actually quite narrow thanks to the side firing woofer, but still manages to produce a good bass sound.
The soundbar has a 10 foot fixed wired running from it that connects into the subwoofer using a 9-pin serial connection. This helps to make setup simple, but can cause issues if the subwoofer is not placed reasonable close to the soundbar. A very useful feature is that the IR receiver for the system is placed in the soundbar itself, and not in the subwoofer, which helps with controlling the system. The system also can handle both Dolby Digital and DTS.
Setup is very simple, although there are a few caveats. Due to the connections being located on the subwoofer, it will have to be placed close to the TV or entertainment center. Placing the subwoofer out of sight or even in the corner of a room will require long and creative cable runs. This is not an issue for me. Due to the subwoofers small size, I really don’t mind it being located on the side of my TV stand.
Having the system for the past 5 years, it has been able to adapt very well to my evolving setup. It started out with an old Panasonic LCD projection TV with no HDMI. This meant running video to the TV and audio to the subwoofer via optical connections. This setup worked very well (full disclosure: I’ve always used Harmony remotes which helps make this setup so easy in my opinion). I purchased a new Samsung plasma back in 2011, which meant that I could utilize the Sony HT-TC100’s HDMI inputs for sources. I also still use the optical connection for my PS3 in order to run HDMI directly into my TV for 3D playback. Given the age of the system it doesn't support 3D pass-through over HDMI.
The user interface is quite simple and offers only a few options for tweaking things. The display is located on the front of the subwoofer, so that’s also something to keep in mind during placement. The only audio options available are to adjust the sound level for the center speaker and subwoofer or selecting a preprogrammed sound field to simulate different surround effects. Other menu options include adjusting the dimmer or setting the display off completely. This is the very useful and what I prefer. The display remains off unless the volume is adjusted or settings are changed, the display then remains on for a few seconds before turning off again. Given the placement of the subwoofer on the side of my TV stand, this helps make the subwoofer less distracting.
Overall, I’m very happy with the Sony HT-TC100. It was meant to be a temporary alternative to a full 5.1 system in my room, 5 years later and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. I’ve found that it works quite well for watching sports, movies, and TV shows. I set the sound field to ‘Movie’ when I got it and I don’t think I’ve changed it once, its works well for all situations.
I first realized just how good the sound is for this system when I put in Transformers on Blu-Ray. I was surprised by just how well the simulated surround effects sounded during the battle sequences, especially the final one on the streets of the city. The higher the volume, the better the system sounded.
I think the fact that I’m so happy with how this system has performed over the past 5 years speaks to just how good the system really is.