Usually when we hear about mega-disc changers we're reminded of Sony's older behemoths, which always seemed like a great idea but were often more trouble than they were worth. Sony's been in the changer business for a long time, but the new HES-V1000 looks completely different than the company's previous offerings and offers some truly cutting-edge features. With its rectangular, tower-like design, the HES-V1000 is a 200-disc changer that can play and record to CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. With only about 300 total Blu-ray discs on the market, that might be overkill, but you can fill the gaps with your existing CD and DVD collection. The Blu-ray changer is impressive enough as is--it's the first giant Blu-ray changer we've seen--but Sony has gone the extra step of including a 500GB internal hard drive that Sony claims can hold "137 hours of video, 40,000 songs, or 20,000 digital photos".
One of our biggest knocks against Sony's older DVD changers was that disc information usually had to be added manually, which involved connected a PC keyboard to the changer and tediously entering the disc title, song names, etc. The HES-V1000 avoids this by coming equipped with an Ethernet port that pulls CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disc information off the Internet, so you don't have to enter the info yourself. The Ethernet port also allows the HES-V1000 to communicate with other DLNA-certified devices on your network, so you can, for instance, stream music off the HES-V1000 to your PlayStation 3.
Another good sign for the HES-V1000 is the inclusion of Sony's XrossMediaBar (XMB) menu system, as seen on the PlayStation 3 and Sony STR-DA5300ES. Despite the annoying name, we've generally found the XMB menu system to be easy to use and easy on our eyes.
Taking a look at the back panel, you'll note the standard connections for a Blu-ray player, with the addition of A/V inputs, which opens up the possibility of the HES-V1000 offering DVR functionality. Sony hasn't said anything about this yet, but it would be a great addition to this do-it-all media center. In addition to the connectivity on the back panel, the HES-V1000 also has Memory Stick, Secure Digital, CompactFlash, and xD-Picture Card readers, so you can easily load up your digital images.
As you might guess, the HES-V1000 won't be cheap when it comes out in October, with a retail price of about $3,500.