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CNET First Look
Sony STR-DN1020The Sony STR-DN1020 isn't a bad AV receiver, but it lags behind its competitors in just about every attribute we consider important.
Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at cnet.com and this is the Sony STR-DN1020. This is a midrange AV receiver with built-in networking features and is currently selling for $500. It has a typical design for an AV receiver although the front panel has more knobs and buttons than usual. There's a USB port on the front and it's iPhone and iPad compatible. So, you can connect your device directly with a typical iPad cable. The Sony also includes an iPad dock which no other midrange receiver does. Although, we don't quite get the appeal since you can always use the USB port. What the Sony doesn't have is built-in AirPlay support which is available on the competing Denon and pioneer receivers. AirPlay lets you wirelessly stream music from any app on an iOS device which is iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and we think it's one of the few networking features worth paying for. So, if you have an iOS device, you probably want to consider the competition. Like other network AV receivers, the Sony has built-in support for some streaming media services including Slacker and Internet Radio. That's a pretty short list and most receivers at this price point include support for Pandora, Rhapsody, and Napster. The Sony is also hampered by a really mediocre user interface. It doesn't feel the entire screen and only let to see up to two menu choices at a time. Around the back, you'll see the Sony's connectivity. The main knock here is there are only four HDMI inputs with most competitors offering six. You also notice the Ethernet port for home networking but Sony doesn't offer a Wi-Fi dongle, so you'll need to use a work around like powerline adapters if you don't have Ethernet in your living room. In terms of the sound quality when we listen to the Sony on its own, it did a solid job with movies that delivering a powerful home theater sound. However, when we started to directly compare it to other receivers like the Yamaha RXV-671 and the Denon AVR-1912, it didn't fair quite as well and we intended to prefer the competition. All together while we've been fans of some Sony AV receivers in the past, we had a hard time finding a reason why we'd recommend the STR-DN1020 over other models which are for more features and better sound. It's not a bad AV receiver, but you can do better for the price. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Sony STR-DN1020.