By May 11, 2010

Sony NAS-Z200DIR review

sony-z200 Let’s not beat around the bush, the Sony NAS-Z200DIR multimedia HiFi is a beast both in terms of performance and sheer size.  Measuring over half a meter in length (535mm to be precise), you’ll want to make space for this piece of audio kit.

Over the years my home audio setup has declined with the introduction of digital media.  Most of my music listening is now done through the PC and apart from a recent purchase of an iPod dock for the kitchen, the only other audio hardware I own is a radio alarm clock by the side of the bed.  So surrounded by tiny audio sources, the Sony NAS-Z200DIR HiFi was like rediscovering music all over again.

Read on for the full review.



The NAS-Z200DIR is an attractive piano black unit, taking its input from a massive number of sources: PC streaming and Internet radio (via WiFi), iPod, MP3 player (via USB) and CD, not to forget the DAB/FM/AM tuner and an audio in.  Apart from a power/standby switch the main unit is devoid of any controls, using instead a wireless remote control to take charge of wide array of functions and settings.

Sound quality to my ears is very good and once configured, switching between the different inputs with the wireless remote is a joy.  It has to be noted that the unit sent for review is marked as a prototype which may be the reason behind the issues experienced – regular freezing of the remote and problems connecting to the wireless network (more of this later).

The best way I can describe the HiFi is as an oversize iPod dock since the connection for this audio source features so prominently at the front of the unit.  At one side are the AM/FM/DAB aerial connections and at the top is the power button and CD slot – pretty minimalistic.


What’s in the box?

  • NAS-Z200DIR HiFi and stand
  • Wireless remote control and charging stand
  • FM and AM aerials
  • Sony VAIO Media Plus installation CD
  • Instruction manual
  • Quick setup guide
  • AC Power adaptor
  • Wall-mounting bracket


As a review unit the retail contents may differ slightly but not significantly so.  This Z200DIR was also a European model so sadly lacked the DAB functionality which is only present on the UK models.


In use

The key feature of the HiFi is its wireless remote control with 3.5" full colour LCD screen, which removes virtually any need to touch the main unit (apart from inserting/ejecting CD’s).  A large rectangular device that comes with its own charging stand, I felt the remote was borderline on being too wide to sit comfortably in the hand for long periods of time.  The redeeming feature being the ease of accessing the controls and the clarity of the screen.

Being used to using touch screen smartphones, it was tempting to try and use the remote control in the same way, but sadly the LCD screen is for display purposes only.  Instead, input is handled by backlit soft-touch controls.

With so many audio inputs, it’s difficult to know where to start with the NAS-Z200DIR.  The remote control makes it easy to switch between the inputs, giving access to iPod playlists one minute and streamed music from a PC the next.  As mentioned above, this was the European model and it didn’t have DAB functionality, so I wasn’t able to put that feature through its paces.

Configuring the wireless connection was made more difficult thanks to my choice of WPA password.  Entering lengthy passwords is a little time consuming but the big problem for me was that there was no Space character to choose from!  Once I changed my password to something a bit simpler, the connection was made and I was good to go.

sony-NAS-Z200iR sony-nas-z200ir02


Home Network

By installing the included Sony VAIO Media Plus software, you can make any chosen song on your PC available to the HiFi through the wonders of your WiFi network.  Whilst the software installed without issue and the HiFi was connected to the network, I wasn’t able to connect to the PC no matter what I tried.  Again this is possibly down to it being a prototype unit.


Internet Radio

With the problems experienced trying to connect to my PC I didn’t have high hopes for the Internet Radio but thankfully it exceeded expectations.  Browsing for stations using SHOUTcast and Live365 services was straightforward and after a few seconds of buffering, music was playing.  Both services have a bias towards US-based radio though which might not be to everyone’s tastes.



I tested the "made for iPod" dock with a 4th generation iPod Photo, 5th generation iPod Video and a 3G iPhone.  Both iPods worked faultlessly with access to artists, albums, songs, playlists, genres, audio books, etc.  The unit is quick to access the iPod and update the remote accordingly.  My only criticism of the iPod interface is that scrolling through hundreds of artists can be time consuming without some kind of search or prefix-character indexing.



The FM and AM tuner’s worked well, with station information being displayed on the remote.  Auto and manual tuning was easy, as was setting and using preset stations.



Located on the same little shelf as the iPod dock is a USB port for a USB device.  Folders and songs appeared on the remote with selection being as easy as using the iPod.  If you’ve not got an iPod, the USB source would be a great alternative and is a welcome addition.



Playing a CD is as easy as putting the disc into the top-mounted slot, with the remote being used for track navigation.  The NAS-Z200DIR also supports CD’s with MP3 files, but I wasn’t able to test that feature. If you had the NAS-Z200DIR on a shelf, the top-mounted slot might be a problem (it’s already 220mm tall so CD access may be limited).


Other features

The HiFi also includes both sleep and wake up timers which work well enough.  If this was aimed more as an alarm clock device I would have liked to have had more control over multiple alarms, buzzer and radio alarms, but since it’s not an alarm clock I’m happy to overlook this.

Another interesting feature is the ability to record to a USB device from either CD or the radio tuner, making it easy to rip your CD library to MP3 (although only at a 128kbps bit rate).



With a price tag of anything between £400-600, the NAS-Z200DIR is aimed at the premium market but as it delivers on performance, I feel the price is justified.  In typical Sony style the HiFi feels quality and the remote control interface sets Sony apart from lower-end manufacturers.


Review by: Joff

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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