By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Bang & Olufsen expanded its selection of hard-disk-drive (HDD) music systems to two with the launch of the $5,900 BeoSound 5, the company's first music system whose only sources are an included hard drive and Internet radio.
The new system went on display in almost 90 percent of B&O-branded stores in the U.S. in January, then rolled out to the remainder this month.
The 500GB system, promoted as B&O's first “all digital” system, joins the HDD-equipped $3,900 BeoSound 3200, which features AM/FM, single-disc CD player/ripper and lower-capacity hard drive. It lacks Internet radio. Both HDD systems mate with any of B&O's active speakers, priced from $1,000 to $21,500/pair.
The BeoSound 5 is the company's first HDD music system to use a proprietary MOTS (More Of The Same) algorithm, which analyzes the musical characteristics of stored songs to automatically generate a playlist of tracks similar to a user-selected “seed” track. Each MOTS-generated playlist contains up to 70 songs, and up to 99 seed songs can be used to create 99 different playlists.
Neither HDD music system streams music stored on a networked PC or network-attached storage (NAS) device. With the BeoSound 5, however, consumers can use a networked PC to rip discs for transfer to the system. For time-pressed customers, B&O stores contract with CD-ripping services to rip a customer's entire CD collection to the BeoSound 5's hard drive before delivering the system to a consumer.
Unlike the 3200, the BeoSound 5 is a two-chassis unit. One hideaway chassis contains the hard drive that stores the BeoSound 5's operating system and music ripped in the WMA, WMA lossless, AAC, MP3 and WAV formats. The second chassis, a book-size controller/display unit, features 10.4-inch color LCD color, which displays album art and menu choices arrayed around a large aluminum control wheel. Consumers use the wheel to spin through albums, artists, songs, genres and album covers, all moving in a circular pattern around the wheel. A thin blue beam of light emanates from a point next to the wheel to point to other menu options at the opposite end of the screen.
BeoSound 5 comes with standard wall-mount bracket for mounting the main chassis flat against a wall. Mounting options include a $250 table stand, $500 floor stand and $100 wall bracket to mount the main chassis on the wall at an angle that faces up. B&O stores will install the system to hide the cables.
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