By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Elan's Aton division plans June availability of an in-wall touchpad to control its DLA series of speaker-level audio "routers," promoted as bringing RF and IR remote-control options for the first time to low-cost multiroom audio systems built around speaker selectors.
For its DLA speaker-level router series, Aton will offer a $149-suggested in-wall touchpad in lieu of the standard-issue in-wall volume control knobs typically used with speaker selectors, said Aton executive Bob Williams. From touchpads installed in multiple rooms, consumers will be able to turn a speaker router on and off, independently adjust a single room's volume level, and mute the room's output, he explained. Using the touchpad's built-in IR receiver will make it possible to use a third-party handheld IR remote to control central sources from a remote room. If the IR remote is a learning remote, the remote will also control DLA speaker-selector functions if DLA IR codes are transferred from a small Aton-supplied IR remote.
Alternately, installers could add in-wall IR receivers in remote rooms without installing the touchpads.
To eliminate remote-room installation of any control device, consumers could opt for an Aton-supplied handheld 433MHz-RF remote with a range exceeding 200 feet within a home. The RF remote controls only the DLAs, not source components, so consumers can control the volume levels in any room from the handheld RF remote. If a consumer wanted to control central sources as well as Aton's audio routers from an RF remote, they could download Aton's DLA codes from Aton's Web site (www.Atonhome.com), then transfer them to third-party RF learning remotes, which come with RF-to-IR converters to control connected IR-equipped components.
In its DLA series, Aton offers two-, four- and six-room selectors at suggested retails of $299 to $499, RF remote kits for each at $99 to $139, and the planned touchpads at $149 each.
Unlike other speaker-selector systems, the Aton models also activate a preprogrammed whole-house macro, such as stepping up volume in selected rooms to a preset level for parties, Williams said. Aton's system also directs amplifier power to a room as needed when a room's volume is turned up.
Separately, the company said it delayed shipments of its first multiroom-audio system based on Digi5 technology until late summer from the first quarter. Aton and other brands owned by Linear developed the technology to expand the entry-level market and create a standardized platform that other companies could license.
In its Digi5 roadmap, Aton will be the first of the Linear-owned brands to ship a Digi5-based system in late summer.
Digi5 technology will create a high-performance four-source, four-zone multiroom-audio systems for about $2,000, including Aton Storm series architectural speakers but excluding source components and installation costs, the division said in updating previous estimates.
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