The look of the BDV-E980 really caught our attention. Unlike the boxy design of the BDV-E870, this system uses PlayStation 3 design cues. The player is devoid of any buttons. Except for the on/off switch the rest are touch-sensitive buttons that look like part of the panel when switched off.
The rear panel includes three HDMI ports, component, LAN, optical, coaxial and an additional USB port.
This 5.1 channel set has front and rear speakers that measure approximately four feet in height. Like the player, the speakers have a glossy black finish. The centre channel speaker is about a foot in
length and like the other speakers, the cloth on this speaker is tightly knit. The speakers can be wall mounted and the (smallish) bundled remote control has sufficient controls on it. Overall the design of this 5.1 channel Blu-ray home theatre system is pretty stylish.
The BDV-E980 belongs to Sony’s Blu-ray capable series and has 3D capabilities too. The interface is the familiar Xcross Media Bar (XMB) found in the PS3. There’s Sony Bravia Internet where you can access widgets like YouTube by connecting through the LAN port. A variety of music formats are playable through the BDV-E980 and can be used by connecting a drive via USB. We tested the BDV-E980 by playing the Blu-ray disk of How To Train Your Dragon. The picture rendered beautifully. Audio sounded crisp and clear too. All channels fired distinctly well and subtle background sounds were clearly heard from the rear speakers.
We also connected a 500GB portable hard drive to the player and were able to play popular video formats such as MP4, AVI and MKV. Even in 1080p format at 60fps.
Even music sounds good. The out-of-the-box Auto mode does its job well. However, the volume is uneven — at higher decibels, the speakers tend to drown out the subwoofer. Internet TV option worked like a charm for YouTube. The video playback was good, however, this has a lot to do with the internet connection as well. The remote control of the system is responsive and there is no actual need to point it directly at the sensor. As long as it’s pointed in the general direction of the player, the function will work.
The Sony BDV-E980 Blu-ray home audio system sells for Rs 39,990. This is the same price as the BDV-870. With really good looks, more power for the front speakers, 3D capabilities and not much tweaking required; this is one system to look out for. This 3D system is designed mainly for a mainstream audience and delivers on all counts. However, if you are an audiophile, this home theatre system may not satiate your appetite. You may want to opt for higher-end systems like the Harman-Kardon BDS 700 that sells for Rs 20,000 more.