We rigged up the BDV-EF200 to Sony’s KDL-40NX723 3D set and first fired up Iron Man 2. Picture-wise the BDV-EF200 is a superb performer, conjuring up majestically detailed images with satisfyingly cinematic depth and a dazzling colour palette.
As Vanko strolls down the middle of the track during the Monaco Grand Prix scene, the crowds in the background and the criss-cross fences on either side look steady and focused, while the intricate machinery and tattoos on Vanko’s body are clear and sharp. And as shredded F1 cars tumble through the air past the floor-mounted camera, the texture of the tarmac on the ground is similarly razor-sharp.
What’s more skin tones look natural and motion is reproduced without any flaws. This also pays dividends when viewing 3D discs like Avatar, as it adds to the overall sense of depth and immersion. The layered images are expertly handled, staying true to what James Cameron had in mind.
If only these excellent images were matched by the sound quality. We played Iron Man 2’s Grand Prix scene with the volume up to 25 (maximum is 35) and what we heard was far from comfortable – the scene’s barrage of loud effects, such as screeching tyres, rasping engines and Vanko’s whip slashing through metal, had us wincing.
It’s powerful, but the tone is harsh and shouty, with a bright edge that makes it uneasy on the ears. It’s OK at lower volumes, but that won’t satisfy those who like to play their movies loud. Dialogue also sounds a little thin, a problem that’s again exacerbated at louder volumes.
But it’s not all bad news. While the passive sub’s bass lacks the depth and responsiveness of a decent active model, it integrates nicely with the other speakers nicely and lends a decent foundation to action scenes. What’s more, Super Audio CDs – and regular CDs for that matter – fare much better than movies, with a smoother and dynamic sound.
On paper, the BDV-EF200 is terrific value for money, bringing you 3D Blu-ray playback, online content, an iPod dock and a 350W 2.1-channel sound system for under £250 online. Picture quality is excellent and the inclusion of two HDMI inputs, two USB ports and decent digital format support are also welcome.
But in practice, sound quality lets the side down with a harsh tone that makes for an uncomfortable listen at loud volumes, while the lightweight build quality and bland design hardly scream ‘buy me’. Not Sony’s finest hour then, but a system that’s not completely without merit should you decide to give it a whirl.