Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sony BDV-E490 HTS Review



My previous HTS Philips 3366/98 lasted me close to 5 years before it was hit by a power surge fault that took over 2 months for Philips to repair, later both rear speaker connecting wires snapped even after getting one of them repaired via Philips after sales service.

I was informed that if wire connectivity broke from the same point it would be difficult to get it repaired again, so I had to begin my HTS hunt during which I shortlisted following models:

LG HB806TM – Rs 25000, Onkyo HTS 3500 – Rs 29000 and Sony BDV-E490 – Rs 24500

Requirement:
I was seeking an HTIB with good mid and low sound reproduction capability, for following purpose:
  • Gaming on my Xbox 360
  • Listening to popular Hindi/ English OST, Pop, Rock and trance music genre.
  • Watching movies (Action/Sci-Fi)


I got suggestions to go for Onkyo or Denon speakers with additional DVD/Blu-Ray player purchase.  First on demo list was Onkyo HTS 3400 at a Reliance Digital outlet in Pune, I was ready to stretch my budget over Rs 25,000 in case Onkyo had exceptional sound quality as compared to other HTIB models I had shortlisted.  Personally Onkyo did not suit my preference and I did not want a bulky main unit for the HTS set up.

I also checked out the LG HB806TM at the same store, sound quality did not excite me much on this unit, heard a music CD and audio playback from USB I was carrying on Sony BDV-E490 which caught my attention in terms of sound quality, however I wanted to be double sure on this so I did a audio/video demo again at a Sony Authorized dealer shop when I finally decided to purchase this HTS.

I also ordered a Sony UWA-BR100 Wireless LAN Adapter separately to take advantage of the Wi-Fi support on the Blu-Ray player. A representative from Sony store accompanied me to complete the Initial set up at home which was done in an hour.  Service center guys came 2 days later to wall mount rear speakers.

Connectivity and look wise BDV-E490 Blu-Ray player is very minimalistic, just 1 analog audio and video output and a HDMI out port (please note this one does not have an HDMI IN port, additional adapter connectivity required), RJ45 Ethernet cable slot in case you want to hook it up to your broadband modem or wireless router. There is a USB slot behind which does not find a mention in the manual but listed in the specs on Sony website, tried using it with regular USB did not work (wondering what purpose it serves?)

Subwoofer is not very heavy and easy to move around, I found centre speaker to be tad small in size, possibly it could have being a little wider. Tall boy speaker stands have got a glossy finish which could have being avoided since it gets smudgy with regular use.

Philips 3366/98 had a deep bass with woofer producing a thumping sound which made it difficult to listen to dialogues during an action sequence while watching a movie, same problem in output on MP3 playback, however slightly better on playing CD Audio.

After configuring BDV-E490 based on speaker distance and setting sound levels, I am quite happy with the overall audio reproduction on this HTS, Listening to music is much better on some high bit rate MP3 files I have with multi channel encoding compared to a regular low bit rate MP3 file. You can actually hear the music beats distinctively playing from separate speakers, with just the “sound mode on” it allows you to choose from Auto, Music, Movie, Enhancer, Demo Sound, 2 Ch. Stereo, Sports and Night presets. In these presets only Auto mode and Sports mode spread sound output to all speakers otherwise output is limited to front/center and sub-woofer speakers on other modes.

If you select presets like Auto, Music, Movie or Enhancer mode and switch to Neo Cinema 6 (Movie/Music) from audio setting menu it completely transforms your audio listening experience and the audio quality does not suffer the kind of cracking you hear while increasing a music system volume. I found volume output to be low on Xbox 360 while accessing game menus, no complaints during actual game play observed  while playing Medal of Honor: Warfighter, you can feel the sound of bullets whizzing from left or right speakers , explosion effects etc. very clearly.

On-screen navigation is easy to use via XMB GUI present on most of the Sony entertainment devices, on connectivity front pairing Wi-Fi with Sony wireless adapter was easy, it has Sony Entertainment Network with limited app collection to use; however popular video streaming services like YouTube, Daily motion and Vimeo are accessible from this player which is sufficient. There are lot of audio streaming channels available by music genre which is a big plus, make sure you have 1 MBPS and above internet speed to enjoy lag free streaming experience of audio/video content, have not tried web browser on the Blu-ray player yet.

Streaming audio/video content via DLNA support is also available, worked without any issues when paired on my Samsung Galaxy Note, cannot comment on HD content quality as I have not connected this HTS to any HD source yet. Some pro’s and con’s to note -

Pros: Sturdy tall boy speakers, sleek DVD Player, Good reproduction of mid and low sounds; while the bass output is just right may not please extreme bass freaks, Remote has also got limited option to control TV as well, resumes audio and video content from last played position while moving in and out of on screen options, Sound Modes like Dolby Pro Logic/Neo Cinema work very well while playing movies.

Cons: Frequent changes required to switch between presets for music and movie playback, DVD player switches off and reboots while playing some radio channels (could be a firmware glitch), limited ports for analog connectivity an additional RCA slot would have being useful, no 3.5 mm audio out jack, Rear speakers are not very loud as compared to Philips HTS 3366/98.
To sum up BDV E-490 is a good entry level Blu-Ray HTIB which surprised me with its sound performance and eventually changed my mind to go for this brand; else I am not a big fan of Sony’s electronic products.  I rate this product 3.5/5 overall.



No comments: