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Arcam BDP100 and AVR400 - Setup
Just because the BDP100 and AVR400 are aimed at enthusiasts, it doesn't mean their operating systems should be impenetrable. So it's pleasing to discover that both units are very easy to install and operate. Most surprising is that the AVR400 has a built-in automatic speaker setup system, which isn't something you'd necessarily expect to find on such a high-end receiver. Simply connect the setup mic to the front port and the AVR400 will make the crucial speaker settings for you, and adjust the EQ values to suit the acoustics of your room.
The BDP100's onscreen menu system looks rather familiar having been used on a couple of Marantz's recent products. That's no bad thing though, as it's a logical system that progresses from left to right in concentric arcs and uses eye-catching icons, jazzy colours and legible text. Finding and playing content from USB sticks is easy, breaking it down into 'Music' and 'Video' menu options. On the downside it's a little sluggish at times and the process is complicated slightly by the presence of a Playlist feature - several times I accidentally added something to the playlist when I just wanted to play it.
The AVR400 also has its own onscreen menu system, which is completely different to that of the BDP100. It's a more basic affair, using plain boxes and primary colours, but no less easy to use. It fills the screen and packs in a comprehensive array of options - we'd be here all day talking you through it all. Rest assured that you can manually tweak the speaker settings down to the finest detail, and easily configure the AV connections.
The remotes supplied with both of these units are virtually the same, and look gorgeous in their light silver finish. You can use one to control both components - in fact both zappers are learning universal remotes and can be setup to control up to eight AV devices with a built-in library of codes or by programming them with your original remotes. That said, the button placement isn't particularly intuitive, with the playback keys all jumbled up at the bottom and dual-function labelling making the search for certain functions a bit of a chore.