|Sony STR-DA7100ES Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Sunday, 01 January 2006|
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First off, I think the 7100ES’s claim of HDMI conversion is a bit misleading, since their HDMI output cannot pass through an HD component signal, which means you’ll still be required to run two sets of cables to your video monitor. Also, with regard to the 7100ES’s HDMI inputs, I found their placement to be awkward at best, seeming to be more of an afterthought than a conscious decision. Additionally, I found the lack of component and HDMI inputs to be less than acceptable. Given that most home theater enthusiasts will have several (clearly, more than two) component/HDMI-ready pieces, the 7100ES’s lack of inputs says switcher box all over it. Overall, I found the entire layout of the 7100ES’s numerous inputs to be a bit counterintuitive and cramped for a receiver in this price range.
I was really disappointed with the 7100ES’s various set-up menus, finding them to be more of an exercise in sheer patience than a helpful guide to get the most out of the receiver. If you are thinking about adding the 7100ES to your home theater, I would strongly recommend that you have your dealer install and configure it for you.
The multi-channel decoding light was a bit of overkill for me. I don’t require a light to tell me that my receiver is doing its job; I just assume it is. More often than not, I found the light to be a nuisance for it is rather bright and, in my “darkness is king” theater, I don’t require a night light.
Lastly, there’s the remote. Out of all the remotes I’ve come across, the 7100ES’s is by far the worst. It just doesn’t cut it in today’s marketplace. Sure, a few years ago, it would have impressed your friends, but from a sheer usability standpoint, it just falls short. Like my old graphing calculator, the LCD screen can be difficult to read, even in well-lit rooms. As for its lack of backlighting, well, that’s simply unacceptable. I strongly recommend investing in a good third-party universal remote, like Logitech’s new Harmony remote.
The Sony STRDA7100ES has, at its core, all the right moves: seven channels of raw power, all of the latest surround sound decoding options and HDMI capability wrapped in a shiny silver casing worthy of boutique style electronics. Add to that equation its sub-two-thousand-dollar price tag and you’ve got a receiver with a lot going for it. But in all the areas it succeeds, it falters where others have shone. Its sound with both music and movies comes off a little lifeless and unsure of itself and its own up-conversion claims come with a barrage of fine print. Top it all off with a user interface that is anything but user-friendly and a remote that simply isn’t worth the plastic it’s made of and you’ve got a receiver that comes up short. I am confident that the architecture of this receiver is a solid foundation for success and would consider reviewing a future revision of this product as the art of digital amps gets more advanced and HDMI switching becomes more developed.