Billed as an ‘affordable’ Blu-ray system, the BDV-EF200 provides everything you need for hi-def home cinema without taking a massive toll on your bank balance. Well, almost everything – being a 2.1 channel system there are no surround or centre speakers involved, but if you’re not keen on clutter or wires trailing across the room then it could be the ideal solution.
What you do get, however, are many of the features found on Sony’s impressive standalone Blu-ray players like the BDP-S480. Crucially, that includes BRAVIA Internet Video, which allows you to stream movies and TV programmes from cyberspace, as well as 3D support.
Surprisingly for a Sony product, it’s not particularly stylish. The main unit, which houses all the audio electronics and the Blu-ray player, features non-descript chunky black bodywork. The curved lip at the bottom (housing a row of playback buttons) is a nice touch, but otherwise it’s pretty bland stuff. That said, it is sturdily built and there’s a useful USB port on the front for playing back digital media.
The front speakers are also visually disappointing. With their gloss-black finish, cloth-covered front panel and trapezium shape they’re far from ugly, but will simply blend into your room’s decor rather than enhance it. Of greater concern is how light and plasticky they are, an inevitable consequence of the bargain price tag. As for the subwoofer, we like the compact cube shape, which should be a doozy to install in your living room, but the exposed chipboard on the rear looks nasty and the passive design is another sign of cost-cutting.
We’re much more impressed by the connections on offer. The back of the main unit sports three HDMI sockets – two inputs and one output – which make it easy to pipe external equipment through the system. The output is v1.4 and supports the Audio Return Channel feature too, so you don’t need an separate cable to amplify sounds from your TV (provided the TV also supports ARC).
Also on the back are an optical digital audio input, analogue stereo input and composite video output, plus an Ethernet port, FM antenna input and a second USB port that can be used to play back digital media or connect a USB wireless LAN adapter (UWA-BR100), as there’s no built in Wi-Fi.