Review: Sony STR-DA4600ES A/V Receiver Page 3

The DA4600ES’s video processing includes upconversion of incoming analog composite- and component-video signals for 1080p output over HDMI. (Signals arriving via HDMI are a strictly a what-comes-in-goes-out affair.) This worked well, though I occasionally saw some slight moiré artifacts on moving diagonal lines. Additionally, the Sony’s conversion of analog signals for HDMI output seemed to reduce picture detail very slightly.

Unusually, the Sony can also (and simultaneously) upscale a component-video source to 720p or 1080i format for its Zone 2 component-video output. Even more unusually, this output is routed through both a conventional component-video connection and an RJ-45 (Ethernet-type) jack ready to connect to Sony’s CAV-CVB1 HD-component balun — about $75 from online vendors. (A search of Sony’s own main Web site for information regarding this product turned up nothing. Big companies: Gotta love ’em.) Of course, the DA4600ES also has a plain ol’ composite-video output for Zone 2 video.

The DA4600ES is the first Sony I’ve used with full networking capabilities. Sony certifies the DA4600ES as DLNA-compatible in Windows environments, via Windows Media Player’s media-sharing functions or compatible servers. Since my media world is Macbased, I cannot comment on this, but I can say that the receiver worked reasonably well with Twonky-Media, a DLNA-compatible Mac OSX/Linux server. (There’s also a Windows version.) However, the Sony is not compatible with Apple lossless, FLAC, or video formats other than MPEG-2 and WMV. Also, iTunes — at least, iTunes on a Mac — seemed to confuse it: I needed to restart both my computer and the receiver before the DA4600ES’s Server page would recognize content. On the plus side, the Sony’s onscreen server-access menus scroll much faster than many I’ve used, making file selection quicker. Still, as with so many other network-capable receivers, there’s no search or indexing feature, and scrolling through long alphabetic lists, even those divided up by artists or albums, can be quite tiresome.

Finally, the DA4600ES doesn’t just have an Ethernet jack for a home network connection; it has four Ethernet jacks. The Sony incorporates a four-port Ethernet hub so that in our increasingly networked A/V world, you needn’t scare up an external Ethernet switch to connect the receiver and your networked TV and your networked Blu-ray player. Very thoughtful!