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RCA RTD750 review: RCA RTD750

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The RTD750's connectivity options are a mixed bag. The Ethernet port is a plus, as is the standard telephone jack for the built-in dial-up modem. We welcome the three optical digital-audio connections (two inputs and one output), but we would've liked a coaxial in, as well. You get several analog-audio hookups: a pair of dedicated inputs and a master set of outs. The suite offers a dedicated A/V output for a VCR, too. And finishing off the A/V complement are three ins; two (one each for the front and back panels) have S-Video. The unit's face is also home to a 1/4-inch headphone jack and a USB port, which transmits MP3 files to certain RCA Lyra portable players.

On the downside, the system's DVD component outputs offer interlaced but not progressive-scan video, and the speaker connections are standard spring clips. Unlike many recent digital media receivers, the RTD750 doesn't offer built-in wireless network connectivity.

Our biggest gripe is that the RTD750 can't stream songs from networked computers. Moreover, the only way to transfer tracks from your PC to the RCA is to burn them to CD, then rip them to the hard drive. The process is time-consuming, especially with large music collections, and it significantly detracts from the RTD750's appeal.

As we'd expected, the unit's maximum CD-ripping speed, rated at 5X, couldn't compare to that of computer drives. For instance, the machine took approximately 18 minutes to rip Scott Fisher's 57-minute Fleeing toward Creation to the hard disk. But the resulting tracks played back smoothly. The RTD750 also easily captured the contents of an MP3 data CD.

Unfortunately, the system's low power and tiny speakers made for an uninspiring sonic experience. When we played the Requiem for a Dream DVD, the soundstage lacked the convincing three-dimensional quality required to fully envelop an audience. The center speaker delivered adequate dialogue, but it wasn't as crisp as we've heard it on other kits.

When we fired up Outkast's precisely mixed and mastered CD, The Love Below, the anemic passive subwoofer made the punchy kick drum in "Happy Valentine's Day" sound too round, and the low electronic-bass frequencies in "Love Hater" struck us as especially weak. The RTD750 fared better on more-organic, less bass-intensive music, such as the Scott Fisher album, because that didn't strain the satellites and the sub.

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