The Good Sony's 7.1 channel A/V receiver converts analog video to HDMI; provides audio and video switching for two HDMI sources including 1080p signals; XM-ready with XM HD Surround; auto speaker calibration.
The Bad Quirky menu navigation; less than totally accurate auto speaker calibration; mediocre video upconversion performance.
The Bottom Line Sony's great-sounding STR-DG1000 can handle HDMI switching and upconversion, and only misses the mark with its quirky setup and menu navigation.
Just as the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD race is about to kick into second gear with the imminent release of Sony's BDP-S1 player, Sony unveils its first A/V receiver "designed to optimize Blu-ray and other sources." It's not any more integrated with Blu-ray players than other midprice HDMI receivers, but the STR-DG1000 ($800) actually surpasses last year's flagship DA7100ES receiver ($2,000) feature set, and is up to the job of being a faithful, high-definition servant to any HD player--HD-DVD players included.
The STR-DG1000's HDMI cable transfers video resolutions up to 1080p, as well as Blu-ray, HD-DVD, and DVD and CD audio. And if you haven't yet made the move up to HDMI, the STR-DG1000's standard connectivity is also above par, with plenty of digital audio and component video inputs. Our big gripe with the receiver is something we've complained about with other Sony receivers--the quirky speaker setup and awkward menu navigation. There has been some improvement, but it's still not up to snuff. That said, the Sony STR-DG1000 is a strong candidate in the midrange receiver category, with an edge over Denon's competing AVR-2307CI due to its video conversion capabilities, but falling a bit short of the standard set by the excellent Onkyo TX-SR674.
Design of Sony STR-DG1000
The STR-DG1000's nicely organized front panel presents the user with a complete array of controls, including something we rarely see anymore: knobs. Yes, most receivers have volume and input selector knobs but everything else is usually relegated to buttons. In addition to the volume and input selector knobs, the STR-DG1000 has a knob for bass and treble control that you can use on individual sets of speakers--front, center, and surrounds--and another knob that tunes AM, FM, and XM radio stations. Sure, you can enter your favorite stations as presets, but the tuning knob is a more intuitive way to zip across the dial and look for new stations. The full-size receiver measures 17x7x17 inches (WHD) and weighs a bit over 33 pounds.
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