In another installment of everyone's favorite series, I had the opportunity to take a look at the new Sony Micro Home Theater System. And while it pumps out some nice sound while offering a slick interface and design, I'm still wondering why there's no HDTV integration or a Blu-ray drive. For a full hands-on, keep reading.
The Sony Micro Home Theater System is one of the best looking devices you will come across. Featuring a slot-loading drive and a nice chrome outline around the said drive, the device immediately reminds you of the PS3.
The Micro Home Theater System is small enough to fit just about anywhere in the home and with Sony's decision to make it finish it with a nice black color, it easily becomes just another part of your family room.
Along with the device itself, the Micro Home Theater System comes with two speakers that pump out some nice sound. And while they are quite small, they tend to complement the device quite well.
Probably the biggest pro yet the biggest con is the device's display. Featuring a monochrome design with blue lettering, the main display is easy enough to read from far away. That said, there is a line of items above that main display that tell you which function you're currently using that is not only incredibly small, but rendered utterly useless unless you're about six inches away.
Hidden away on the top of the device is a group of buttons that allow you to choose a function and pause or stop playback as well as increase or decrease volume. And while these buttons don't do much to take away from the beauty of this device, the buttons don't do much at all -- they're pretty useless if you like to use a remote.
Tucked away in a compartment just beneath the drive is a number of playback options including the option to toggle DSGX on and off as well as Progressive scan. Besides that, the compartment hides an audio-in jack as well as a place to plug-in your headphones. But, as I will mention later, that couldn't be any more useless.
The Micro Home Theater's remote is a typical Sony style with a bunch of easy-to-press buttons that will give you complete control over all of the device's impressive functions. My only issue with the remote, as trivial as it may be, is its color. The remote is gray. Why can't it match the slick black that the device offers. Oh well. You win some and lose some, I guess.
Sony's Micro Home Theater System is one of the most feature-rich devices you will ever come across. Ranging from XM and Sirius support to Bluetooth streaming so you can play music from a cell phone or computer through this device, you'll never be left with a feeling of wanting more.
My favorite feature of the CMT-DH7BT is its Bluetooth integration. While it may seem that this is just another run of the mill device that plays music through included speakers, think again. With the included Bluetooth support, you can stream music from your computer or cell phone straight through the device's speakers, while at the same time connecting your Bluetooth headphones to it for a truly unique and cool experience.
If you have some Bluetooth headphones lying around and your significant other is trying to get some shut-eye while you're listening to music, you don't have to find your DAP and listen to your tunes through that. Instead, the Sony system lets you pair your headphones with the device so you can continue listening to your music without waking your girlfriend up. Believe it or not, this feature works extremely well. I was able to walk into a different room while listening to a song and I didn't miss a beat. Simply put, Sony did everything right when it comes to Bluetooth.
Another feature that shouldn't be overlooked is the CMT-DH7BT's ability to play DVD movies. And while it doesn't let you play Blu-ray movies for some odd reason, the DVD playback feature is convenient and works quite well. That said, Sony is the official Blu-ray backer, why it didn't include Blu-ray playback in this device is beyond me.
One interesting feature that would make all Sony TV owners happy is the inclusion of something called "Theatre Sync." With a quick tap of the Theatre Sync button, your Sony TV and the system will turn on while changing the system's function to DVD. From there, the button turns your TV to the system's input source and lets you start watching some flicks in no time. This is an extremely convenient feature if you do own a Sony TV, but for those of us who don't, it's basically a useless button on an already crowded remote.
The CMT-DH7BT plays back a host of formats including, DVD (pretty much every kind you throw at it), VCD, Super VCD, CD, CD-R+/- and even Data CDs and Data DVDs. And while I applaud Sony for including this ability where in the world is the Blu-ray compatibility? I know I've mentioned this earlier, but it can't be said enough: this device is in no way an HD-compatible system.
All in all, the Sony Micro Home Theater System is a little low on options. While it supports XM and Sirius radio, along with AM and FM tuning, it'll only work with two speakers and can only pump out composite, S-video or component video if you want to upscale your DVDs. Simply put, an HDTV doesn't enhance the ability of this device in any way.
XM and Sirius radio compatibility is a welcome addition to the device. And although I didn't have time to get Sirius in for testing, I was able to hook up XM without a hitch. In a matter of seconds, the system pumped out the radio stations in clear sound. And because XM offers a slew of programming including every MLB game, I quickly found that satellite radio was my chosen form of entertainment with this device.
DVD playback on the Micro Home Theater System is simply superb. With a little bit of help from a component setup, you can actually see the difference in movie playback. And while I would have liked to see HD compatibility, the DVD playback was so good that I quickly settled in with that instead.
Setting up a connection with a Bluetooth device takes a matter of seconds. That said, don't expect to send songs from your computer or other device unless it supports Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP). But if you can get your hands on a device that does support AVRCP, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the entire experience. Sound playback is great and while it's not a full surround sound feeling, the device does sound quite well with the help of an S-Master Digital Amplifier.
Perhaps the most important performance issue with this device is overall sound quality. And as I mentioned above, the CMT-DH7BT performs quite well on most accounts. That said, it would have been nice if Sony included the option of adding more speakers to the device for a surround sound experience. With all of the features this device offers, there's no reason why you should be tied down to two speakers. That said, the device does offer digital audio output, so you might be able to get a little something extra out of it with some help from components that are sold separately.
Bottom LineAll in all, the Sony CMT-DH7BT is a fine device that would have been perfect about two years ago -- before the full-on HD era. That said, the device pumps out some great sounding audio and offers enough features that justify its $300 price tag.
Check back each Friday on The Digital Home as Don performs a hands-on evaluation of some of the hottest home products around. Next week: TBD. If you want to see prior Hands-on Friday articles from Don, click here.