Sony - 5.1-Ch. 3D / Smart Blu-ray Home Theater System BDVE3100 Review
Time For A New Home Theater Experience
For Years I've had a JVC all in one 5 disc DVD player and home theater system. I'd been really satisfied as this system always produced nice quality sound. However, with a new flat screen HD TV set up it seemed a real shame to continue watching movies on DVD when they could be so much better on Blu-ray. So that's when I decided to upgrade to a Blu-ray capable home theater system. For the price this Sony system seemed to good to be true.
An Impressive Set Of Features
The set of features on this model are too many to go on and on about here. So I'll just hit the one's I found to be the most important. I believe this model may have originally been part of a bundle with Sony's Bravia line of televisions. It features 5.1 channel surround sound that supports all the popular formats like Dolby Digital, DTS, LPCM and many, many more. It features 1000 Watts of total power which is evenly distributed between the speakers and the and the 7 inch passive sub-woofer. I know some systems say a 1000 Watts but most of the power is just for the sub-woofer that isn't the case here. Much is made of the 3-D capabilities but this requires a 3-D TV setup which I don't have (or care about getting). So I wasn't able to test that feature. Another great thing about this model is that it has built in WiFi meaning it can easily connect to you home network. With this enabled you can easily stream music and videos from Netflix, HuluPlus, Youtube, Crackle and Pandora.
What's The Sound Like?
I'm always a little wary of buying any sound system without hearing it first. The reason being that specifications are nice and all but the only real way of knowing whether you'll like a sound system or not is by listening to it. On this point the system also doesn't disappoint. It delivers crystal clear audio and really shines when it comes creating that true to the theater experience for movies. For music lovers their are many different preset EQs that can really enhance the sound. It also gives options for each individual speaker so you can get the sound just right for whatever room you have it installed in. I would like to have seen a fully customizable EQ system but it really isn't needed. Some have complained that this system isn't loud enough but I think that it's got plenty of power. And if you're the type that likes to blast out the neighbors windows you can always upgrade the speakers later (I don't think you'll need to though).
An Incredible WiFi Experience
I have to say my favorite thing about this player is the WiFi experience. It may sound strange considering all the other features but this is the one that will have you hooked. It only takes a couple of minutes to configure which all taken care of from the options menu. All you need is the password for your WiFi network. What's amazing is that even with a slow internet connection (I have DSL 1.5mps) everything works great. Pandora which I never used to listen to sounds beautiful and never skips or lags like it sometimes does on my computer. The same can be said of YouTube which is my other favorite for instantaneous music on demand. There are also many services that can be enabled that allowed for on demand movies like Amazon Video, Sony Entertainment Network and many more but those I haven't checked out too much. They also added a web browser but it seems like it is not useful for much as it doesn't support flash video and is very hard to navigate with the remote. Maybe with an addon mouse or keyboard it may be more useful.
How easy is it to set up?
Okay so a lot of these Home Audio systems are pretty complicated to hook up and get started. Not this one, at least not with my set up. If you have an HD TV (if you don't then why do you want a blu-ray player?) then all you'll need is a HDMI cable to hook the Blu-ray to your TV. From there each speaker has it's own color coded that connects to the back of the player. There are no twisted wires to connect which is a plus. Some have complained that there are no wireless speakers but the wires they come with should be sufficient. My living room is 15ft long and the wires easily reach the back wall.
Some of the menus and options are hard to find at first. Even though the remote has many options some things can't be done without going to the start-up menu. Overall though it's not a big deal as most of these things will only get changed once.
My Final Verdict
All together I've found this system to be a real delight. Sure it's not the most powerful system out there and it could use a fully customizable EQ. Really though those are features for a higher end model. What this system does well is reproduce quality room filling sound. An added bonus is that you can easily connect to the net and upgrade your TV to a smart TV with lots of online content. For the price I don't think your going to find a system out there with better combination of sound quality and technical features.
Did you purchase this system? Perhaps you have your own personal favorite for home audio. Don't be shy, let everybody know about it.