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Review: Sony BDV-E300

Written on Sep 21, 2009 by Thomas S. and filed under Reviews, Sony

The Sony BDV-E300 is an all-in-one home theater system packing Blu-ray support, iPod integration, and 1000 watts of total system power. This home theater in a box system, designed to be controlled exactly like newer Sony HDTV’s as well as the PS3, uses the xross media bar for simple and quick navigation. If you haven’t already made the plunge into HD movie playback, the BDV-E300 may be worth checking out.

sony bdv-e300

Sony BDV-E300 Specifications

  • 5.1 channel – 1000 watts system power
  • 143 watts to five satellites
  • 285 watt subwoofer
  • 2 analog audio inputs, 1 coaxial audio inputs, 1 optical audio input
  • 1 component video output, 1 composite video output, 1 HDMI upscaling output,
  • Auto speaker calibration
  • S-Air compatible (wireless speakers not included)
  • iPod cradle
  • Bravia Sync enabled
  • xross media bar menu navigation
  • Blu-Ray Player
  • Ethernet port
  • Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby TrueHD, DTS 96/24, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS HD, Dolby Digital Plus

Setup

The unboxing process was painless with the Sony BDV-E300, needing only a pair of scissors to slice the tape on the box. The main box houses all components, with each item having its own separate foam protection. Once everything was out of the box you notice the speakers are alone for each channel, without any stands. The front and rear speakers look nearly identical, with only stickers on the backs of the front speakers to identify them as such. The rest of the components were straight forward, with the center channel easy to locate, being the super short but wide speaker, and subwoofer…well being the subwoofer. One slightly annoying feature lacking from this kit was stands, which help to present the front speakers. Sony did include multiple mount connections, but even a simple plastic stand would have been appreciated.

sony bdv-e300 with satellites

When all the components are in their desired spots, the next step is locating the correct wire for each speaker. Sony includes pre-cut sections of wire, all color coded for individual speakers. This mean no need to wire cutters or the hassle associated with it. The length of wire was long enough for even a large room; with plenty to spare in most cases. The only wire that may present a problem is the center channel, which is shorter and designed for home theater setups where the stereo is very close to the TV.

sony bdv-e300 satellitesony bdv-e300 satellite rear

Once the speakers are connected and the system is turned on for the first time, you will be directed through a setup guide. The process first starts with you choosing a language for the menu system, then your primary video output method, preferred resolution, and aspect ratio. Once those are set, it gives you the option to have the system controlled by a supported television, sets up the network connection, and which startup mode you would prefer (normal or quick). I went with normal, since I don’t like running devices in standby, drawing power while I am not using them.

sony bdv-e300 center channel
sony bdv-e300 center channel rear

The next step is probably the most important where you let the system auto-calibrate the speakers. The method Sony uses is one of the coolest ones I have seen, where it actually tells you the distance of each speaker from the setup microphone after the test completes. In my case it even detected that my chair was ¾ foot off center from the TV, which is correct.

sony bdv-e300 subwoofer
sony bdv-e300 subwoofer back

Usability

As someone who has a Sony LCD HDTV and PlayStation 3, I found the BDV-E300 very easy to control and navigate. The xross media bar gives you quick access to each primary group of features, be it settings, pictures, or inputs, and then gives you a dropdown of each item in that category. This makes it easy to jump from adjusting the speaker settings all the way to the analog input control with a few direction arrow presses. Even if you are new to the system it is easy, but if you are already used to it, the similarities are nice since you know where everything is. The only negative comment I can say about the navigation system on this stereo is the remote control, which is very jumpy when moving between categories. Every time you move from one side to the other, there is a good chance it will skip 3-4 items, instead of going one at a time. This is especially annoying since it happens even when you are meticulous about pressing the direction pad once to move one position over, and it flies past your desired choice.

Performance

The speakers included with this system are made with thin walled plastic, and don’t really have weight of a really solid speaker. I might be more used to heavy wood-based speakers, where you know which is a better speaker by how much pain you back is in after setting up the system. Even with the lightweight construction the audio quality was still very nice, right at the level you would expect from a starter home theater system.

Speaker performance was good, with clear high notes and a good balance of midrange and bass. The included subwoofer might not have been as powerful as external powered subwoofers, but a properly balanced system doesn’t have bass set high enough to shake pictures off the wall either. Music and movies alike sounded very good, with good channel separation and mixing with the rear speakers. While playing music the rear speakers would activate in auto mode, helping to fill the room with more sound. In movies the rear speakers would stay dedicated to their own specific audio track. One of my favorite tests for new surround systems is to play Call of Duty, since listening to directional sound is key to not being killed by an attacking enemy. The Sony BDV-E300 was quick to pick up on subtle footsteps, which helped me easily pick off other players before they could get to me.

Blu-ray movie playback was perfect, with quick movie loading after the disc was inserted, and snappy menu response. Noise from the stereo itself was minimal at worst, with no perceptible noise from the drive after a disc was loaded. Once playing a Blu-ray video, dropping back to the home screen had about a 2-3 second delay. Compared to my PS3, the performance from this system was actually better in terms how long you had to wait before you could start watching a movie.

iPod Support

sony bdv-e300 ipod dock

I can’t say I was as impressed by Sony’s iPod integration when I think back to how Panasonic handled it on the SC-PT770. On the Panasonic you were given full song titles, song timers, video support… basically it duplicated the controls of the iPod itself. On the Sony BDV-E300 you select the iPod input through a selection called “DMPORT”, which acts as line in for the audio. The screen you are presented with gives no indication of the iPod being connected, only a nice background image that is shared with other audio inputs. You have limited song control by using the remote, where play, pause, skip all work, but you are left hunting for songs. I ended up browsing to desired album by hand, connecting the iPod to the dock, and pressing play. Besides charging, the iPod integration was about as useful as a 3.5mm jack plugged into the top of the iPod.

Conclusion

Overall the Sony BDV-E300 is a fairly good home theater in a box system with the addition of Blu-ray support. If you are looking to add surround sound to a small to mid-size room and want the capability to play HD movies this system will work well, and its sale price works with most budgets. The setup utilities are make the initial calibration process painless, and the color coded wires make sure even non-techie can get this system playing music or movies in no time. The only real downside to this model is the lack-luster iPod support, which falls flat compared to other alternatives and the omission of HDMI inputs.

Pros

  • Cool setup utility
  • Color coded wires and speakers
  • Responsive Blu-ray player
  • Good audio quality

Cons

  • Overactive remote
  • No speaker stands
  • No HDMI input
  • Poor iPod integration

Rating – 3.5 out of 5 stars


2 Responses to “Review: Sony BDV-E300”

  1. I’m just about to buy one, but if it’s not so good, what would you recommend at a similar price.?

    By Peter on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply
  2. I bought a sony 55in projection tv,my second one.And want to know how you get the BDV-E300 .for free.Or an I to late.If so how about giving me something free,all my tvs are sony and surround and stereos,mind ya they are about 10 years old.they just dont die.Except the bulb for the tv.Anyway thanks for listtening.

    By carson Pilgrim on Apr 29, 2010 | Reply

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