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Bose followed up the launch last year of its first home audio systems that can be networked, with the addition of a wireless option said to maintain wired-network quality.
Bose's proprietary wireless option can be plugged into six CD/DVD-equipped home theater systems, which were unveiled last year at this time with proprietary Bose Link wired-network technology. BoseLink also appears in the existing Wave music system, a new Lifestyle RoomMate powered-speaker system and existing Lifestyle stereo extension amps used in custom installation.
The AL8 wireless option, at an expected everyday $399, consists of a separate transmitter and receiver with a range of more than 80 feet in a household environment. Additional receivers are available for $149. They hit retail in mid-May through all Bose-owned stores, authorized retailers, Bose's Web site and Bose's toll-free number.
Wired BoseLink systems can be used to create a two-source, 14-room distributed-audio network. The wireless option enables consumers to cut the cords to eight of those rooms. For control of source selection and other functions from a remote room, Bose includes two-way RF remotes with its six BoseLink-equipped home theater systems.
Four of the six BoseLink home theater systems — the Lifestyle 38 and 48 and the Series II Lifestyle 18 and 28 — stream audio from their CD/DVD drives, AM/FM tuners and connected external sources such as cable/satellite boxes. Two of these "master" systems, the Lifestyle 38 or 48 at an everyday $2,999 and $3,999, respectively, add music-storing hard disk drives that stream two hard-drive songs simultaneously.
Audio streams are reproduced by BoseLink clients, which include the two-speaker Series II Bose 321 and Bose 321 GS at an everyday $999 and $1,299, respectively. Other clients are the existing $499 Wave Music System table radio/CD; the new $349 radio-only Wave Radio 2; and the new $499 RoomMate one-chassis amplified speaker system, sold with BoseLink cable and a PMC II RF remote that displays song titles of music stored on the hard drives of the Lifestyle 38 and 48 master units.
The hard-disk-equipped 38 and 48 are master-only units.
The optional wireless add-ons incorporate proprietary FreeField technology, which Bose said it designed specifically for audio transmission rather than for wireless computer networking. The technology delivers a “clear, steady and consistent” audio signal despite the proximity of wireless home networks and cordless phones, and it won't interfere with other household wireless produce, the company claimed. Microwave-over interference is avoided if the microwave and wireless add-ons are placed a “small distance apart,” the company added.
Chris McCann, Bose's lifestyle systems business manager, called the wireless systems “pretty much drop-out proof,” and he said it avoids room-to-room latency problems by eliminating the buffering and error-correction stratagems employed by other wireless.
Wireless music distribution “has been our quest for a long time,” McCann said of the reason for holding off an introduction until now. “We're very picky about audio quality.”