Pros I do know know what I like about this product, as it is still in the box. What I do not like is the fine print about the unit's control box that one discovers for the first time in the owner's manual.
Cons The control module must face the TV, making placement of the system difficult and usually ugly. You only find this out in the fine print of the owner's manual, after you buy the unit.
Summary The idea of the control box is to separate the monitor from lots of wires, and of course make the monitor thinner. That is a great idea, if you put all your components in a shelf to the side of the monitor (or below the monitor), as most folks do. Then all the wires are hidden, and only one wire (an HDMI cable and a power cord) run out of the unit, presumably hidden somehow.In plowing through the SonyStyle specs on this model, I did see where Sony calls the wireless connection "line of sight," which probably should have raised red flags in my mind about the thing. So my apologies to Sony for suggesting that they were silent on this thing, though I still think their advertising should have been more forthright ("no, the media center can't go anywhere in the room or adjacent to or below the monitor.") However, my problem remains with designing a system where you can't have any physical obstruction (including cabinet walls) between the media center and the monitor. I still haven't figured out how to solve that problem, short of hanging the center from a beam in the ceiling. If anybody out there has actually solved this mystery, your help would be be deeply appreciated.
But you can't do that! That is because the control box must face the monitor, because the box and monitor communicate by line of sight infrared. So you can either place all your components and the control box between you and the monitor (what a pretty sight that would be) or behind you. If you choose the latter--make sure there are no obstructions in the viewing room blocking the infrared connection--i.e. tall coffee tables, golden retrievers, your wife or the like). And in either event, that puts your entire collection of components in the middle of the room, together with all their associated wires. And how do those wires get to their various termimi? That's right--on your floor.
I I absolutely could not believe this design silliness when I read it, but numerous calls to Sony customer/technical service got me nothing but rote reading from the operating manual. Most had no idea what I was talking about. Obviously, the answer is to have the box and the monitor connect by wifi or radio. But when I ask the Einsteins at Sony about using and infrared reader to accomplish that, they thought I was talking about a new-generation Kindle.
Word to the wise: before buying anything over $500 (and particularly a Sony), get the owner's manual downloaded and read every footnote before buying. I hate to say that, having been a dedicated Sony owner for decades, But they really did pull on this is occasion.
Updated on Jan 13, 2010