capsule review

Gateway KAS-303 & Connected DVD Player Bundle

At a Glance
  • Gateway KAS-303 and Connected DVD

Gateway KAS-303 & Connected DVD Player Bundle

The KAS-303 lacks one important feature you would expect in a $999 home theater in a box: good stereo sound. In appearance, the champagne-colored components evoke a high-end audio/video system. The separate DVD player includes an 802.11g wireless adapter card that lets you play digital media from a networked computer. Another innovation: The 6.1 speaker system includes a center speaker with a feature called "Ventriloquist" that purports to make the small satellite front speakers sound more like bookshelf-size ones.

But the Ventriloquist needs some work. The center speaker dominated my test soundtrack ("The Matrix Reloaded") far too much. On CD audio, the overall stereo sound was horrid--it sounded like an old AM radio. Even when I switched on the Dolby Pro Logic II option to spread the sound around, the midrange was muddled and the treble tones were muffled in all speakers.

Despite excellent documentation, setup took over an hour--twice as long as other units. The DVD player required an immediate firmware upgrade. Also, the unit (which came in three boxes) didn't include the vital digital audio cable to connect the DVD player to the receiver for Dolby Digital sound, and it lacked even an S-Video cable to send video to the television.

The unit does have some pluses. DVD images had deep, rich colors and showed good detail. And the large subwoofer worked well: The DVD soundtrack had oomph. But you can do better for the money.

Gateway has packed the KAS-303 with innovative features, but at its price it should have better sound and a better selection of cables.

Michael Gowan

This story, "Gateway KAS-303 & Connected DVD Player Bundle " was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Gateway KAS-303 and Connected DVD

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