- HDMI output, Feature packed, Well designed interface
- Limited favourites menus, A little pricey
One of the better high end HD receivers available, the Sony DST-HD500 delivers excellent value for those with the system to support it.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
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Replacing the older Sony high definition model, the DST-HD100, the DST-HD500 both expands and improves upon its predecessor. While it still has a few issues that could be resolved, on the whole the HD500 is an exceptional unit and is very well suited to higher-end home entertainment setups.
Setting up the STB took less than five minutes, from opening the box to channel surfing, and we were quite impressed with how quickly and efficiently the box was able to pick up channels using predefined settings for our area. Connection was a breeze, thanks especially to the DST-HD500's HDMI output, one of its hallmark features, and a very notable improvement over the DST-HD100, which only provided component output.
With both digital video and audio streaming through the same cable, the Sony has a decidedly minimalist look to it. The front panel, a polished glass affair, sports only minor buttons and a small LED display. Slightly smaller than the average VCR or DVD player, the Sony has quite a pleasing size and shape, and generally looks appealing.
It only took us a few minutes of use however to see that style definitely took a backseat to substance when this model was designed. An incredibly simplistic, yet advanced interface manages to integrate a huge array of features into a simple menu system incredibly easily. We found the remote to be excellent, giving us access to almost any feature we wanted in a single touch. The button layout is intuitive, and the buttons themselves are large and responsive; within moments we had mastered the interface, and were sitting back, feet up, flicking through channels with ease. The Sony's information plates (which provide information about the currently playing program) gave detailed and extensive readouts, and despite a lack of customisability (for things such as transparency, or delay), they proved to be more than sufficient.
Like its predecessor, the DST-HD500 provides both picture-in-picture and pause functionality. Without twin tuners or a hard drive, respectively, these features will never match up to the functionality other devices are able to offer, however they still make up a very important part of the feature set, and definitely have their uses.
Our only qualm with the DST-HD500 was again, something it inherited from the DST-HD100 - an annoyingly difficult favourites system. Apart from only providing two separate favourites menus (other devices have supported up to a dozen), as soon as you select a channel from your favourites list, then the next/previous channel buttons will cease to cycle through all available channels, and instead cycle through only those on the favourites list. While not a major drawback, it definitely takes some getting used to.
For the most part, though, Sony has produced a very professional, yet intuitive device. Packed with features, impressive output options and boasting a simple and easily operated interface, the DST-HD500 is perfectly suited to higher end home entertainment setups. If you've got the technology to support it, then this product will make a valuable addition to your audio-visual experience.
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