We won’t apologise for saying this again, but we just love Sony’s new ‘monolithic’ design concept. It has made everything, from their latest televisions and Blu-ray players, to their home cinema systems look absolutely amazing. But it is here with the vertical Sony BDV-F500 Blu-ray Home Cinema System where we believe it has reached its pinnacle. Just look at it – a black slab of fantastically simple design that will take pride of place in anyone’s lounge.
The sleek front unit is completely button free and it’s not until you look on top or around the side that you see where everything goes. There are hard button volume controls on the top of the unit but everything else is controlled via the remote. The bulk of the connections are on the right side, which is also where the discs are inserted, with the speaker connections sensibly placed at the rear.
The Sony BDV-F500 Blu-ray Home Cinema System is an unashamed 2.1 lifestyle system so you’re not going to get the full 5.1 experience here, but with the S-Force Front Surround technology Sony say it will do a pretty good job of creating a virtual surround sound experience. Being a Blu-ray system also means that you be able to enjoy Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio with the 32bit S-Master Digital Amplifier doing its stuff to keep the sound clear and sharp. Total power output is 350W (RMS) which is quite respectable for a system of this type, even if it is 25W less than the similar specced and priced Panasonic SC-BTX75.
For a lifestyle system, the Sony BDV-F500 also shows a good deal of flexibility too. You can plug in your iPod or MP3 player to the system, listen to the RDS radio and stream music, video and catch up tv services with the BRAVIA Internet Video feature. To use this you will need to plug in a network cable to the side of the player, or purchase the optional UWA-BR100 wireless dongle. Most of the connections are on the right hand side and it is fairly well specced in this area – we have HDMI output of course, as well as the USB (with another on the left side), LAN, and composite sockets (note there is no component output), but we also have two optical inputs. Sony state these are for connecting your television and satellite or cable box, but you could connect your console if you wished instead. The HDMI connection on the BDV-F500 does have an audio return channel so if you have a compatible television you can listen to your TV through the system without needing the optical connection.
Like many of the devices in the new range the Sony BDV-F500 also comes with the Gracenote Entertainment Database Browser to help you find out more about the movies your watching. The system can also be made 3D ready by a simple firmware update
The vertical design will really make a statement, but as the discs and most of the connections are on the right hand side, you need to make sure you can give it enough room to gain access and insert discs.
Why you should buy the Sony BDVF500 Blu-ray Home Cinema System
If you want a great looking system that will make a real style statement, then the Sony BDV-F500 is probably the best on the market at the moment. It is also surprisingly well specced with some serious substance behind the handsome exterior. Rating: /5
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