By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The Avega-developed platform used in the Linksys by Cisco wireless multi-room audio will appear in systems that multiple companies will introduce late this year in multiple global markets, Avega business development VP Peter Celisnki told TWICE.
Avega provides the basic IEEE 802.11n-based hardware platform and “skeleton” user interface that clients such as Linksys customize, Celisnki said. The other partners could offer different features, such as gesture recognition, he said. Avega’s technology can also be used to stream multiple streams of high-definition video, he added.
One of Avega’s investors is Cisco.
In its implementation, Cisco’s Linksys unit is marketing a trio of tabletop home audio devices that stream music from a PC or network-attached storage (NAS) device connected to any standard wireless-N router. The three devices also stream music:
from up to 50,000 Internet radio stations via aggregator RadioTime and from Rhapsody’s subscription-based Internet music service, all through a networked broadband modem;
from iPods docked to Linksys tabletop devices residing in other rooms; and
from legacy sources connected via the other devices’ analog RCA inputs.
The system supports streaming of about six different songs simultaneously to six different rooms, all with synchronization that eliminates echo effects if the same song is playing in adjacent rooms, said Celinski. “That’s the secret sauce. We sync even if the wireless-N router lacks our technology.”
Linksys’s three one-piece devices are the Conductor, due in the first half at an unannounced price and equipped with CD player, speakers and color LCD display; the $449 Director, equipped only with amplifier and color LCD display for connection to any speaker pair; and the $299 Player, which lacks amplifier and display and connects to existing stereo systems. All three connect to an optional $79 iPod dock.
Music from any networked or connected source can be selected and directed to any of the tabletop devices from any room in the house via the handheld $349 color-touchscreen Controller, also equipped with wireless-N technology. Each tabletop device, however, also comes with its own IR remote in case someone else is using the RF Controller.
Linksys also offers its own speaker pair for the Director at $149.
The tabletop devices are dual-band 2.4/5GHz wireless-N devices that also incorporate wired Ethernet ports and compatibility with no-new-wires network adapters. The amplified models feature subwoofer output. All devices but the Conductor are available at Fry’s, Amazon.com and ShopLinksys.com.
Linksys is also offering three product bundles. The $999 Premier Kit is a two-room system consisting of a Director with IR remote, a Player with IR Remote and the wireless-N Controller. The $849 Trio Kit features two Players, two IR remotes and the RF Controller. The $549 Executive Kit consists of a Director, IR remote and speakers.
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