When you first get your hands on a product, it's easy to get taken in by a funky design and nifty functionality. Sporting a slick, vertical DVD player and an innovative disk storage system, the Sharp SD-AS1W definitely has these things, but does it sacrifice too much for a little extra cool factor?
- Exquisite sound quality, Stores multiple disks, Funky Design
- No video outputs, lacking in features
For those that don't need a receiver with the metaphorical "works", this may be right up your alley. The sound has to be heard to be believed.
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
Functionally, it is missing a few things. The most important of these (and a huge sin in our books) is the lack of any video inputs on the receiver. When people purchase a home theatre system, they buy it to synthesise all of their home entertainment devices. Today, most people who own a home theatre are running a DVD player, one or more games consoles, a set top box and a PVR at a minimum. They can't connect all of these to their TV, because the majority of TVs don't have that many high quality inputs; so they turn to a home theatre system. The SD-AS1W won't help them at all in that regard; it is a purely audio receiver, meaning the DVD player must be connected to the TV directly.
The other annoyance we had with the system was that a proprietary cable is used to connect the DVD player and receiver. The system just won't run without this cable, it is the only audio out on the DVD and is also the only way of even switching the receiver on. We question why an optical or co-axial port wasn't used for this.
Thankfully there are a reasonable number of audio inputs available. In addition to the three RCA connections, there is a single optical and co-axial connection, which should satisfy all but the most hardcore audio enthusiasts.
Now onto the good things; first and foremost, this system sounds fantastic. The positional audio was probably the best we have heard. Watching Kill Bill, we could place each individual footfall as people jumped around from multiple directions. We could hear the horde of motorcycles and trucks zoom in from the side as the Crazy 88 arrived. It was absolutely phenomenal.
The quality of the sound was incredible as well. Bass was powerful and rumbling, and the sound was extremely punchy, which is exactly what you want when watching movies. Every sword clash, every gun shot, every gush of blood had such a visceral feel that we finally understand why people are forgoing the cinema in favour of home entertainment setups.
We were equally impressed with the design of the unit. The receiver is slim, thinner than most DVD players, and the DVD player itself mounts vertically on a stand. Pushing the eject button causes the front panel to slide out and rotate, allowing you to insert the disk into a solid rubber slot. It then takes the disk, and files it away. It has the capacity to store up to five disks simultaneously, which we absolutely loved. We could file away our favourite few movies and have them all sitting there waiting to be played. You can even change disks around whilst another one is playing. Brilliant!
We had no trouble setting up the SD-AS1W. The speakers are connected using a standard split speaker cable and the whole process took about ten minutes. Everything is colour coded and we didn't need to refer to the manual at all.
When we did browse through the manual however, we were let down by the absence of any real features to distinguish this system. It only offers the very basics; DTS and Dolby surround, and five surround modes (Movies, Music, Night, Stadium and Hall). That is it. No Pro-Logic or Pro-Logic II support to be found. It does however support MP3, WMA, VCD and JPEG files however, which will appeal to those with a broad spectrum of media.
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