When it comes to technology, timeliness is the key to success. You might have the latest technical expertise under your belt, but it all depends on when you get it out for the masses. On similar lines, we’ve noticed in the last couple of years how major AV manufacturers have adhered to this golden rule of loading all of their products with so many features that the end user would simply be in awe of it. One good thing that has happened in all this is that the prices of Blu-ray and 3D-capable HTiB sets (Home Theater in a Box) have reduced considerably. Sony BDV-N990W is one of them.
A low-cost HTIB set
Out of the box
We were impressed with this HTiB set the moment we started to open the box that it had come in. The sleek and clean look of the speakers is something that one can’t stop praising. But we liked the stainless and scratch-free feel of the completely black speaker stands even more. Having said that, it would be nice to see Sony experiment with some more colours as it will definitely add a pinch of freshness and excitement. And for those who have already seen the Sony PS3, it will be easy for you to notice the striking resemblance with the Blu-ray player in the set. Nonetheless, the BDV-N990W is overall impressive! Neatly tucked in the box, the entire assembly was rather more populated than what we generally get in any other HTiB, and was made of plastic. There were a couple of things that we were seeing for the first time in any HTiB set that we’d received.
The extra apparatus that came in the BDV-N990W box is an innovative idea devised by Sony. Most of us are generally worried about the wires that have to run down your walls when you set up a home theatre system in your house. Also, with the general notion being that wireless is not very effective, a lot of us will be a bit wary of pursuing this option. Sony, in order to deal with this wire issue, has come up with an innovative solution by not connecting the surround speakers to the amplifier on the Blu-ray player. Instead, they connect to a surround sound amplifier (the extra apparatus we mentioned), which in turn connects to the main amplifier via a wireless unit. As a result, the wires for the surround speakers have to travel only till the surround sound amplifier that ideally should be placed behind the listening position.
A good set of connectivity options including USB input
We believe that this solution by Sony is really useful to reduce the clutter of wires travelling all along the room length. The Sony BDV-N990W is packed with enough features to keep you occupied for at least a year. The Sony Blu-ray player in the package is a full HD 3D Blu-ray player with both wired and wireless network connectivity. In addition to this, the player is also DLNA compliant, which makes it possible for the player to connect to a host of different smartphones and tablets off the hook. In terms of further connectivity, the player also boasts of two USB inputs capable of playing all the possible digital audio and video formats. The speakers boast of an elegant design and a powerful total output of 1000W.
Setting up the BDV-N990W was not a big task and if you thought that the extra surround sound amplifier would further complicate stuff, it does not. Assembling all the speakers on their stands and then connecting entire rig did not take more than fifteen minutes. And that is only if you are interested in getting your hands dirty, otherwise the store you have purchased the HTiB from will mostly do the setup for you. Once we switched on the Blu-ray player, somehow we were not at all surprised to see the PS3 user interface being carried here as well. In fact, looking at the design of the Blu-ray player, we had expected this. There is an initial setup guide aimed at helping the novice users to calibrate the speakers and set up the network connections. It does work quickly and flawlessly. Every time you connect a USB drive or even slip in a disc, the player automatically detects the action and immediately prompts you to do the next step. Sony has managed to dumb down the operations on the player to a great extent and accordingly scores high on the ease-of-use factor.
The total output of the speakers is 1000W
For audio performance, we had the ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones’ on Blu-ray for which we found the Sony speakers to be a tad bright and slightly forward as well. But this was before we had calibrated the speakers using the supplied microphone and the internal calibration system in the Sony Blu-ray player. After the calibration, in which the system calculated the distances of each of the speakers from the listening position and accordingly adjusted the levels of each channel, the forwardness was almost gone with just a slight trace of it seen in some very action-heavy scenes, particularly the one with many starships flying together.
The brightness also had reduced accordingly, but not to a large extent and was highly evident again in scenes with action-packed scenes. Coming to think of it, the brightness actually facilitated the dialogues, making them come through crisp and clear. So if you have a considerably noisy living room (or wherever you wish to set up the HT system), the pinch of brightness that the speakers have will be a blessing in disguise.
In terms of overall output, we found Sony to be impressive and easily capable of addressing an area of around 250 sq ft without any problem. For 3D, we used our latest favourite, namely, the ‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’, which arguably has the best 3D Blu-ray transfer that we’ve seen till date in the country— particularly for the skin tones. And the Sony Blu-ray player managed to rise up to the challenge with the player quick enough to transfer all the data on the disc without any anomalies or defects.
We are not sure how many buyers would be really able to take optimum advantage of the 3D aspect in this HTiB, as you would need a 3D display to avail the 3D facility. And in current times, a 3D TV is not a budget decision. Nonetheless, the feature definitely adds to the value-for-money factor as it makes your investment future proof.
Verdict and price in India
There is a large consumer segment that does not associate with Sony as a price-conscious brand and the BDV-N990W can be an eye-opener for them. The modest price tag of Rs 40k for a full HD 3D Blu-ray HTiB is a great deal. It offers some innovative features like the surround sound amplifier, in-built Wi-fi connectivity and to top it all a convincing audio-video performance. We strongly recommend it.
AV MAX is a special interest audiophile magazine that focuses on reviewing high-end AV equipment like amplifiers, stereos, floorstanding speakers and related news
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