|Yamaha YMC-500 neoHD Media Controller Review|
|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Wednesday, 18 November 2009|
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I think there will come a time at Halloween when I could hand out the remote controls scattered about my house along with candy corn and gum, and satisfy the string of trick-or-treaters that canvass my neighborhood. Honestly, in each room where I listen to music, watch TV or movies I have a minimum of six remotes. It gets tricky, particularly for a reviewer, when one remote will turn on an unwanted component during use of another. I'm not lazy, but it's maddening to leave the chair to turn off a piece of equipment you didn't want to engage in the first place. The universal remote is not a new idea, but most are far more complicated than the originals they intend to replace. If I have a choice between spending an evening listening to music, watching a DVD or reprogramming a half-dozen remotes to do either of the former, the choice is easy. Yamaha offers a couple solutions to corral your electronic devices together under one roof and shed the excess remote baggage.
I've always liked Yamaha's approach to user guides. Along with the standard 58-page owner's manual, detailing the ins-and-outs of the neoHD, a fold-out quick-start guide is included to get visually oriented consumers up and running. System setup, for me, is rarely an enjoyable process, but I actually liked connecting all the pieces to the YMC-500 because Yamaha has made setup akin to a child's game of “match this with that.” As I was hooking up the front speakers – each with its own colored set of wires – to the respective terminals, I thought about my mother and how much she typically struggles to just make the proper connections with A/V equipment. This system would be perfect for her or anyone challenged just to make a TV work with a DVD or Blu-ray player, etc. The color-coded, step-by-intuitive-step setup is nearly foolproof.
After connecting a TV, source player, FM antenna and speakers, the next step is attaching the IR flashers to the remote control sensors of the TV and any components connected to the receiver. The flasher heads are covered with wax paper, which you peel off to uncover a sticky layer that binds the heads to the sensors. It's a bit like playing doctor with a heart patient. Power up the system and connected components and follow the directions on the TV screen to calibrate the speakers, integrate the remote control and setup source devices. The YMC-500 breaks each step down to basics. If you have a DVD player in the system, you're asked how the player will be used and then incorporated into one of three main menus: Watch (TV/Movies), Listen (Music/Radio) or Play (Photos/Games). It's that simple. From these respective menus you can watch TV, watch a movie, listen to CDs, search for an FM radio station, access music on a USB device or play games.
1. The setup and remote are incredibly intuitive
2. Graphical User Interface boasts large, easy-to-read icons for selecting sources
3. Better than expected “surround” from a 2.1 system
4. All needed speaker cables and wires are included
5. USB port plays MP3, WMA, MPEG-4, AAC and FLAC audio files
6. Compatible with Deep Color and x.v. Color video signals
7. Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS 96/24 and DTS Digital Surround all supported
8. Analog to HDMI video up-conversion