Kenwood VRS-N8100

Kenwood VRS-N8100
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Wide format support, lots of inputs/outputs

Cons

  • No support for a secondary level sub or files over 2 gigabytes

Bottom Line

A media receiver, amplifier and radio tuner-in-one that's ideal for high-end home theatre installations. Although priced higher than standard media streamers, it clearly offers a whole lot more.

Would you buy this?

With computer vendors targeting the lounge room, it wasn't going to be too long until home theatre vendors hit back with their own products addressing the digital lifestyle trend.

Kenwood's flagship VRS-N8100 control centre is one such product, combining top-notch streaming media receiver, amplifier and radio tuner capabilities in one solidly constructed, stylish and well-specified set-top unit. A built-in 10/100Mbps Ethernet interface allows for networking to multiple PCs running Kenwood's PC Server software either directly using a cross over Ethernet cable or using your own wired or 802.11g wireless network hub. Although the firmware upgradeable Sigma EM8550 processor handles a vast amount of formats, WMV (Windows Media Video) isn't amongst them. Out of the box, there is support for MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX (version 3-5) and XviD video files; MPEG 1 audio (including MP3), WMA, WAV and OGG (Vorbis) music files plus JPEG, BMP, GIF and PNG image files for slideshows.

An integrated PC Card slot means that JPEG images can also be read from a third-party PC Card media reader - great for digital camera buffs. A "Dual Source" function allows one person to listen to music through the main speakers, while someone else watches/listens to a second source though headphones (complete with Dolby headphone 5.1 processing). The "Supreme" function (enabled by a 32-bit ADI SHARC DSP processor) also stands-out as effectively, it re-creates high-end frequencies lost through MP3, WMA and OGG audio compression . The VRS-N8100 has a huge provision of inputs and outputs catering for pretty much every setup imaginable - see Kenwood's Web site for a full listing. Put simply, S-Video, component and composite video plus S/PDIF, optical and RCA stereo audio-ins and outs are all included - more than once in most cases. Two assignable high definition-compatible component inputs will be a blessing for those with quite a few component-out devices.

Features for console gamers include a front panel composite input, automatic "game mode" surround sound/EQ switching and the remote control is pre-programmed for your PlayStation2 and Xbox, but can also be programmed to operate other gear like a DVD player or VCR. As a 600 Watt (100W per channel) digital amplifier, the VRS-N8100 can turn standard stereo signals into 6.1-channel surround and support a range of high-end Dolby, DTS and "Active EQ" modes. Speaker configurations up to 6.1 can be attached and you can also choose to use a dedicated, amplified sub-woofer. In use, both the informative built-in four-line display and on-TV graphical interface are easy to use, once you get your head around the remote. The server software connection was straightforward (once we discovered Windows' firewall was misbehaving) and sorting our media into the software's relevant folders was a snap. We noticed small limitations like no support for second level sub directories or file sizes over 2GB and the fact that all images are converted to JPEGs when imported into the library. These small niggles aside, we were suitably impressed.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?