By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
A trio of new wireless multiroom audio products from Philips consists of two stereo shelf systems and a standalone hard-disk music server.
The introductions expand Philip's wireless selection, which in 2006 consisted of one wireless multiroom shelf system and one standalone server.
The 2006 shelf system was the one-piece WACS700 AM/FM/CD microsystem with integrated flat-panel speakers, 40GB HDD, MP3 ripper/encoder, five-zone capability, and bundled amplified/speaker client. Its successor is the WACS7000, also a one-chassis model with flat-panel speakers but with 80GB HDD and with the ability to wirelessly transfer, or download, music files from a UPnP-equipped PC. Its predecessor performed wired-Ethernet transfers. The WACS7000 also adds increased screen resolution and direct playback and export of ripped music from and to a USB device.
The WACS7000 is due in the first quarter at a suggested $999 with companion one-piece tabletop client with amplifier and speakers. Additional clients can be purchased for a suggested $299.
Another new product, the 80GB WACS3500, is the company's first wireless music-serving shelf system in a more traditional three-piece configuration. The five-zone system features separate two-way box speakers and microsize main chassis. It's designed to reach consumers with traditional shelf-system tastes and to reach a lower price point than the WACS-700 launched last year, the company said. Pricing wasn't disclosed. The one-piece WACS-700 predecessor retailed for a suggested $999 with bundled amplifier/speaker client.
Compared to the WACS700, the 2x40-watt WACS3500 adds wireless Internet radio streaming and unprotected AAC playback, joining MP3 and unprotected WMA playback. Like last year's WAC700, the five-zone 3500 uses a wired Ethernet connection to transfer music from the PC for local storage, but the 3500 also offers wireless transfers from the PC.
Another new feature for the WACS3500 is an optional charging/docking cradle, which accepts iPods or Philips's GoGear-branded MP3 players, and a USB port, which plays back music from connected USB drives and from flash-memory and HDD-equipped MP3 players.
The WACS3500 is due in the second quarter without client at $399. It will work with separately sold UPnP clients: the $299-suggested WAS700 amplified/speaker client and the $199 WA5 client, which lacks speakers and amplifier and connects to any existing stereo system.
The next-generation standalone wireless server, replacing the 80GB WACS57, is the 80GB WAS5000, which is also a five-zone system but differs in its vertical flat chassis, larger screen, and ability to transfer music — including protected WMA files — wirelessly from a UPnP PC. It doesn't include Internet radio functions. It will ship in the second quarter at a suggested $599 with bundled wireless client that incorporates amplifier but no speakers.
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