* Energy Star rating (low power consumption, runs cool and quiet)
* "Anynet+" - integrates well with other Samsung gear
* iPod dock included
* USB port for firmware updates
* Auto Sound Calibration
* Smart Volume
* MP3 sound enhancing mode
* no network connectivity
* no front-panel inputs
* can't bi-amp main speakers
* no on-screen display
* no video upconversion
* Audio Return Channel not implemented
* no AM radio
I wanted to like this receiver; I really did. The manufacturer's propaganda sheet made it sound like a perfect fit for my situation. According to the manual, the included external docking station was supposed to work with my two older iPods. My brand-new (3D-capable) TV and Blu-Ray player were both made by Samsung, and the "Anynet+" integration promised to make these components work well together. The implementation of HDMI 1.4 supposedly included 3D pass-thru, and the USB port for firmware upgrades would seem to allow for the possibility of extending the useful life of the unit. I also liked the fact that it was Energy Star rated. It felt good to do something to reduce my electric bill and "carbon footprint" and all that.
Unfortunately, things didn't work out as expected; in fact, the little disappointments started to add up the moment I set my new prize down on the coffee table. I had ordered the "C700B" variant (the last character denoting a BLACK faceplate to match my other A/V gear), but the box that came off the UPS truck clearly stated that I had just received the "C700" (SILVER front) version. Well OK, no huge deal; it was a very DARK "silver", and it was going to spend most of its life behind a smoked-glass cabinet door, so I could live with that.
The next minor checks happened just after I took it out of the box. The side / top cover felt really flimsy, and it showed every single fingerprint, despite the matte finish. Little plastic buttons blocked the centers of the speaker terminals; I had to yank them out to make room for the banana plugs on the ends of my cables. One of the HDMI ports was mounted a little bit crooked (though not badly enough to prevent insertion of the cable end). None of these were major issues, but they still were not what I expected from a device on which I'd just spent $400 (US) of my hard-earned cash.
After connecting everything properly, I ran into the first not-so-little issue: the iPod dock cable was really short -- less than 3 feet (1 meter). And despite explicit statements of support in the manual, the dock and receiver did NOT like my 4GB iPod mini. The display indicated that it was "CONNECTING" for a minute or so, then it reported "IPOD ERROR". I was able to get the audio to play by using the iPod's controls, but having to do things that way mostly defeated the purpose of having the dock in the first place.
A minute or two of further testing revealed the second 'strike'. The Audio Return Channel is apparently NOT implemented in this receiver. The manual says you only have to attach a fiberoptic cable if you intended to use the Anynet+ feature (which makes no sense, as this capability is implemented over the HDMI connection). However, I couldn't get audio from the TV over HDMI, even after disabling Anynet+ in all three Samsung components. And a couple of times, the audio would intermittently cut out for a second or two even after I added the fiberoptic connection. The only 'fix' for this was to cycle power on both the receiver and the TV.
The third major problem appeared when I tried to use my HDMI-connected (AT&T U-Verse) PVR. It just didn't work -- at ALL. No error messages, no indication of a problem anywhere, just no sound or picture. I probably could have connected it with component cables and another fiberoptic audio link, but the whole point of upgrading my A/V gear was to get away from all those extra wires snaking around the back of my cabinet. And the Anynet+ Blu-Ray player kept trying to take the 'focus' of the receiver away from the PVR.
That by itself was a real show-stopper, but one more unpleasant surprise awaited. My Logitech Harmony 900 remote had serious difficulty trying to control the blasted thing. It worked... sort-of... most of the time; but not consistently and reliably, as it should -- and as it does with bazillions of other A/V gear.
Now as for the actual sound that came out of the speakers... well, it was decent, but I wasn't really "WOW'ed by its performance. I could've lived with it just fine in my environment, if it weren't for the other negative issues. So this morning, I reluctantly boxed it up and shipped it back to the vendor. Looks like I'll be going with my first instinct and waiting another month or so for either the Onkyo SR508 or the Pioneer 1120K.
THE BOTTOM LINE...
I could see this receiver as being a good fit for somebody who has mostly Samsung equipment, doesn't care about making their setup HDMI-only, has a relatively small space for home-theater watching, and isn't overly critical about audiophile-grade sound. That said, I think most of you good people on this forum would probably not be satisfied with the Samsung HW-C700(B).