By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New Bose products include a 2.1 computer speaker system that delivers surround sound and an upgraded one-piece Acoustic Wave music system, which now offers iPod and audio-network connectivity while retaining its predecessor's $1,079 price point.
The Acoustic Wave II music system, incorporating AM/FM tuner and CD player, will be available Sept. 7 in white or gray only through Bose's direct channels, including Bose-owned stores. It will be Bose's first system, either for music or home theater, to mate with an Apple iPod. The company already offers an amplified iPod speaker dock called the SoundDock.
For iPod connectivity, Bose plans late-October availability of an optional $129 docking station that recharges an iPod and uses an analog output to connect to the Acoustic Wave's analog auxiliary input. An included IR remote integrates the control of the docked iPod and Wave system by, for example, enabling users to automatically shut off the iPod when they hit the remote's CD or FM buttons. The remote also controls basic iPod functions. The Wave does not display the iPod's menu or metadata.
The Acoustic Wave also adds BoseLink-network compatibility, enabling it to stream music from any of six Lifestyle home theater systems in other rooms through a proprietary wired connection or wirelessly via optional $399 transmitter/receiver package. Two of the Lifestyle systems feature music-storing HDDs. A separately available $149 RF remote enables users to control the remote Lifestyle systems and view the metadata of songs.
Other improvements to the Acoustic Wave II include MP3-CD playback, a three-line text display instead of an icon display to show MP3 metadata, optional five-disc CD changer available Sept. 7 at $299, and digital signal processing, which is used to equalize the sound and deliver higher output, particularly in the bass region.
In another introduction, Bose will expand its computer-speaker selection to three SKUs on Sept. 7, when its flagship Companion 5 system becomes available at $399 through direct channels and authorized dealers. Unlike its two companions, the Companion 5 delivers surround sound through the left-right desktop speaker pair.
To test satellite-radio demand among Bose's simplicity-minded customer base, Bose quietly began selling its first Sirius satellite tuner, which features LCD display and connects to the Wave table radio/CD via an analog output. The tuner's included IR remote integrates Sirius and Wave control in the same way as the remote that comes with the iPod connect kit for the Acoustic Wave II music system.
The Sirius tuner is available in a limited number of Bose stores and, if customers ask, through Bose's 800 number. The tuner hasn't been promoted.
“The Bose customer likes simplicity," said Philip Hess, director of home entertainment product marketing. Satellite radio, on the other hand, isn't so simple because of the need to activate service and to find antenna locations that deliver best reception inside the home. "We don't want to give up the essence of Bose simplicity," he explained, but Bose also can't ignore "the flow of new music sources becoming popular." With the test launch, Bose is trying to "test a delicate balance," he said.
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