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.

Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?