Sound bar home theater systems have always intrigued me – I’ve always had systems with the most speakers I could fit in my house, so why would I want to drop down to only one? Still, I had heard from a number of friends that the technology behind the sound bar system really works, and it can trick you into thinking you’re really listening to a full on surround sound system. In order to test it, I decided to try out the Sony BDV-F7 model, and while my experience wasn’t enough to make me get rid of what I have now, it definitely made me rethink future purchases.
The BDV-F7 is an extremely sleek and sexy looking system, that would do well with any decor. The use of right angles makes it just look slick as hell against other audio video components, and if you’re running all Sony products then it will fit right in. The sub woofer also looks neat, with how it is raised off of the ground slightly, but most everyone I know puts their subs behind the TV or behind the couch for more effect so it won’t be as highlighted as it could be. One thing I didn’t like, is that I couldn’t use my standard speaker cables with this system. I’ve seen different systems using proprietary connectors before, and it’s always annoying – especially when you’re used to running very large gauge speaker wire.
Even with using smaller speaker wire than I’m used to, I found the sound that this system produced to be quite pleasing. The sub has quite a decent punch to it – especially when playing any sort of game (Battlefield 3 sounded amazing on it), and there’s no distortion or rattle at higher levels. The sound bar itself is also quite impressive, and I’ll have to admit that it did an extremely good job of tricking me into thinking I was listening to a real 5.1 surround system. Trying movies on my normal surround, and then switching to the same movies on this showed very little difference, and I really had to strain myself to notice anything “off”. The sound bar also is very thin, and fit undr my TV with no issues, and wasn’t even close to covering up any of the actual screen.
The BDV-F7 system is also loaded with a lot of audio technology – Dolby, DD+, DDTrue HD, DTS, and 3D Pass Through are all included here. While I did not have a 3D TV or 3D monitor to test it out on during the course of my examination (I’m not super huge into the 3D scene), I have talked to a few other people that have this model and who have used that feature – they all said that it worked as well as you would expect it to, but you need to make sure you have the right HDMI cables for it. That means running the 1.4 HDMI cables would probably be your best bet with this system (although 1.3 would probably work in a pinch).
The reason this system isn’t for me though doesn’t have to do with what it has, it’s all about what’s missing. You see, I have a lot of crap hooked up to my system now – Playstation 3, XBOX 360, Wii, and an OnLive Micro Console are all standard components in my living room, with the occasional hook up of my Dreamcast. The problem here is that three of those things run with HDMI on my system, and the BDV-F7 only has a single HDMI in port. I don’t want to continually have to reach behind everything just to switch what system is currently being played – likewise I don’t want to spend a boatload on an HDMI switcher (I know there’s cheap ones, but they generally suck and only switch right for video). Had this system shipped with three HDMI in ports, I would be much more excited about picking one up for keeps.
Another thing with this system that’s a double edged sword, is the ease of set up; let me explain. The BDV-F7 is pretty much plug and play right out of the box. There’s no fuss with wires, as everything is clearly color coded, and most people will be happy with how the sound is without messing with the settings. If you’re into sound though, you’ll want to make the sound as good as you can by tweaking options, and that’s a bit of an issue. The menus aren’t very easy to navigate, and there were a number of times I changed the wrong option and had to find my way back once I realized that. Again, this isn’t that big of a deal for a normal user – just for those of us that know exactly how we like our systems to both sound, and “feel”.
The Bottom Line: The BDV-F7 is a nice entry piece if you’re thinking about getting a sound bar; it’s small and compact, and ridiculously easy to set up – if you have a lot of additional components to hook up though, be warned that this probably isn’t your best option.
- Extremely well designed look; the BDV-F7 is refined and elegant no matter the setup it’s paired with
- The sub hits a lot harder than others I’ve tried that were the same size, with no discernible distortion at even the highest levels
- The ease of setup is pretty much out of this world – my father could set this up without issue
- Only one HDMI input is a tremendous problem for anyone with more than one add on in their audio video repertoire
- Proprietary speaker connectors are very annoying to work with if you’ve invested a lot in other wires (like Monster cables)
- The menus aren’t the easiest to navigate, but again the normal user won’t feel the need to delve into them
You can pick up the Sony BDV-F7 Home Theater System from Amazon the decent price of $297.98