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Sony CMT-DV2D review: Sony CMT-DV2D

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The Good Plays DVDs, CDs, and MP3 CDs; better-than-average sound; attractive, compact design; line-in support.

The Bad No multidisc changer; lacks S-Video and progressive-scan DVD output; doesn't support ID3 tag-based MP3 CD navigation.

The Bottom Line Sony's CMT-DV2D microsystem sounds good and plays DVDs, but we'd prefer a multidisc changer to its integrated tape deck.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.8 Overall

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Several years ago, microsystems had little connection with the world of video, but newer models are encroaching on the territory of their home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) brethren. One such product is Sony's CMT-DV2D, which incorporates a single-tray DVD/CD player alongside two older technologies: a cassette player/recorder and a digital AM/FM tuner. With 50-watts-per-channel power output, the CMT-DV2D is adequately equipped to fulfill basic movie and music needs for an office, a bedroom, or a small apartment. Although we wish it had more extensive connectivity and a multidisc changer rather than a cassette deck, its better-than-average sound makes its shortcomings easier to overlook. The Sony CMT-DV2D lists for $230, but you can find it online for a bit less.

The speakers' attractive wood-veneer finish highlights the Sony CMT-DV2D's refined, executive-style appearance. The main unit has an unobtrusive black faceplate accented by silver sides, silver playback controls, and source-selector buttons that provide basic command of the system. For detailed tasks such as DVD-menu navigation, you'll need to grab the remote control, which has a logical 51-button layout. Because the remote isn't backlit, you'll have to feel your way around in the dark. What's more, it isn't universal, so you can't program it to operate additional devices such as your cable box or TV.

The Sony CMT-DV2D is suitably compact. Each of its two MDF (medium-density fiberboard) speakers measures 10 by 6.75 by 9.5 inches; the main unit measures 10 by 7.75 by 9.5 inches. Each speaker is a two-way model with a 4.5-inch woofer and a 1-inch tweeter. The speakers are rear-vented, so you'll want to leave at least a few inches of space between them and the wall.

A bright front-panel display conveys basic information such as the current track number and the playback time for audio CDs; the same information can be displayed on a connected TV. However, the Sony CMT-DV2D doesn't display album art or text information, such as track titles and artist names for audio CDs. With MP3 CDs, it displays the tracks' filenames on the TV, but it doesn't support ID3-tag navigation by categories such as artist, album, or genre. You can navigate the directories of MP3 CDs but nothing more.

The Sony CMT-DV2D offers basic connectivity. A single analog-audio input lets you patch in any external source--say, a cable/satellite box or an iPod--and Sony even throws in a suitable cable. Of course, the CMT-DV2D doesn't have a video input, and you'll need to manually swap cables if you plan on using more than one device--step up to a full-fledged HTIB or A/V receiver if you need those capabilities. The only audio output is an optical digital jack, which is useful if you want to connect a compatible set of powered surround speakers, for example, instead of sticking with the DV2D's stereo-only playback. A composite-video jack is the sole video output. As a result, even if your TV has high-quality S-Video or component-video inputs--and even the smallest flat-screen LCD TVs usually do--you'll have to plug the non-progressive-scan CMT-DV2D into its lower-performance composite-video jack. By contrast, two similarly priced models, the JVC FS GD7 and the Panasonic SC-PM91D, offer component-video output. Furthermore, the JVC system has a USB port that allows it to double as a PC multimedia speaker system--a feature that might be the deal maker for cash-strapped students, for instance.

The Sony CMT-DV2D is compatible with home-burned discs, including DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R, and CD-RW media. Although they aren't listed in the specifications, DVD+R and DVD+R DL (double layer) discs play on the system, though compatibility may vary depending on factors such as the brand of media and the software used to create the recordings. In addition to MP3 CDs, the system also supports VideoCDs (VCDs) and discs containing JPEG image files. However, unlike Panasonic's SC-PM91D, the Sony isn't compatible with WMA files. The digital AM/FM tuner has 30 programmable presets and a clock/alarm function that could come in handy. The tape deck has a feature that automatically synchronizes the process of taping from a CD.

With 50 watts per channel of power, the Sony CMT-DV2D can play surprisingly loud. Its sound easily trumps that of JVC's FS GD7. Unlike many microsystems, it doesn't grossly overemphasize the bass or the high end of the sonic spectrum. When we played OutKast's track "Ghetto Music," the CMT-DV2D produced somewhat boomy but passable bass and clear, nonabrasive midrange and treble. DVDs played without a hitch, but we missed the better-quality video that an S-Video or component connection would have delivered. In DVDs, dialogue was plenty clear, and the soundstage had reasonable depth. The CMT-DV2D successfully displayed a slide show of JPEG images from a CD-R. However, it can't simultaneously play musical accompaniment.

In the final analysis, the Sony CMT-DV2D is an unusually good-sounding microsystem option so long as you're willing to forgo a multidisc changer in favor of a single-disc configuration.

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