The RX-V357B sits at the low end of the range of five new receivers Yamaha has just released. At under AU$500, this receiver could hit the sweet spot for many consumers wanting to take their first steps into proper a home theatre system without breaking the bank.
The RX-V357 can drive a 5.1 channel surround sound set-up (that's five speakers and a subwoofer), and can pump out 100W for each speaker for a total system power output of 500W. Being the entry level model, the RX-V357B doesn't boast any audio extras such as multizone functionality, but it should be able to handle most of the home cinema needs of the average punter. In terms of audio inputs, the RX-V357B features two optical and one coaxial digital inputs. It's compatible with Dolby Digital/Matrix 6.1, DTS/Matrix 6.1 and Dolby Pro Logic II, and comes with a five band graphic equaliser.
When it comes to video, one of the major pluses of this new receiver is that it features two composite video inputs, meaning you can plug in two of your external sources using the highest quality analog connection available. We would have liked, of course, some sort of digital input (such as DVI or HDMI), but considering the price of this unit it's understandable there's no such connectors. It also has a component video out. Rounding off list of specs are four composite video inputs and two audio inputs.
The RX-V357B doesn't boast the most impressive specs, but Yamaha is obviously aiming this right at the low end of the home theatre market, so realistically you're getting decent functionality for the price. The next model up, the RX-V457B (RRP AU$699), shares similar specs but can drive a 6.1 surround system (albeit at lower power outputs per channel).
Bringing in a receiver for under $500 should win Yamaha some home theatre converts. If you're thinking of ditching your home theatre-in-a-box in favour of a separates kit, then the RX-V357B could be a good place to start.