As Sony’s top-end system, the feature list is expectedly long, but let’s start with the home cinema spec. Unlike flagship systems from Samsung and LG, which offer 7.1 and 9.1-channel output respectively (albeit with the use of clever processing and multi-driver towers), the Sony BDV-N7100W is a straight-up 5.1 affair. Total power output is quoted at an ambitious-sounding 1000W, with 200W going to each of the fronts, centre and sub. The separate rear amplifier musters 100W per channel.
The Blu-ray player spins 2D and 3D discs, as well as upscaling DVDs to 1080p and playing SACDs – a real bonus for the few hi-res audio fans who own some. The system decodes Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio.
There’s a decent range of sound modes on board, including a new Football mode that not only emulates the acoustics of a stadium by emphasising the crowd but also removes the commentary – a neat tie-in with the 2014 Brazil World Cup of which Sony is a major sponsor. It’s backed up by Berliner Philharmonic, Movie, Music, Night and 3D Surround modes.
If you’re lucky enough to own a 4K TV or projector, the BDV-N7100W will upscale pictures to match its resolution – although whether or not the Sony will do a better job than the display’s built-in scaler is a moot point. It’s also compatible with Sony’s Triluminos Colour TVs, which is designed to improve colour depth and brightness.
Like any system worth its salt, the Sony boasts built-in Wi-Fi and a range of network features. Chief among them is the ability to stream internet content from the Sony Entertainment Network, which is up there among the best portals in the business.
It lacks the catch-up TV full house you’ll find on the Samsung HT-F9750W, but you do get BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, BBC News, BBC Sport, Sky News and YouTube, plus Netflix, LoveFilm and Sony’s Video and Music Unlimited subscription services. Other niche video apps, Facebook, vTuner internet radio and the Opera TV Store fill out the terrific selection, which is complemented by a built-in web browser with USB keyboard support.
The BDV-N7100W also supports streaming of music, video and photo files from networked servers. The list of compatible files includes XviD, WMV, AVCHD and AVI, although we did find that some of our hi-def files would only play in blurry SD. On the music side it plays MP3, WMA and AAC. Disappointingly, it won’t stream MKV or WAV – those can only be played via USB.
You can also stream music via Bluetooth, and with NFC you can pair compatible devices simply by tapping it on the NFC logo.