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Sony's high-end Blu-ray HTIB has style, but it's pricey and lacks Netflix streaming

The Sony BDV-E500W is an attractive home theater system with built-in Blu-ray and wireless rear speakers, but we find it too expensive considering it lacks streaming media services such as Netflix or Pandora found on cheaper competitors.


Now that Blu-ray players are officially a $100 commodity, it's no surprise manufacturers are trying to cram the technology into home theater systems at the lowest price possible. Sony's BDV-E500W ($800) takes a decidedly more high-end approach, offering Blu-ray playback in a 5.1 home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) system, with step-ups like tall-boy front speakers and wireless rear speakers. Like many Sony products, the BDV-E500W exudes style, from the glossy black speakers to the glass-like front panel of the main receiver unit.

On the other hand, we were surprised by some of the BDV-E500W's shortcomings, especially the lack of any streaming media services, such as Netflix or Pandora--both of which are found on cheaper LG and Samsung Blu-ray home theater systems. We'd be willing to look past some of the missing features if it delivered better-than-average sound, but to us the BDV-E500W sounded just plain average. On its own, we had few complaints with the Sony BDV-E500W and it's one of the more stylish systems we've seen. It's recommendable for those who put a high priority on style and looks, and are willing to pay for it. Just be aware that competing systems offer more features for your home theater dollar.

Read the full Sony BDV-E500W review.