HBO Channel Goes 5.1
SAN FRANCISCO — HBO's primary channel launched Dolby Digital 5.1 programming with the pay network premiere of "The Perfect Storm" on July 14, said Dolby Labs. It is the first of many films and other programming to be broadcast by HBO in Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio. Other HBO programming in Dolby Digital 5.1 will include the movies "What Lies Beneath" and "The Contender," the HBO Film "Dinner with Friends," and the 10-part HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." Dolby Laboratories estimated that by the end of 2001, 10 million U.S. households will have a set-top box capable of playing Dolby Digital 5.1 via DBS or digital cable. Dolby also estimates that more than nine million U.S. households will be equipped with Dolby Digital 5.1 home receivers. Other networks currently broadcasting in Dolby Digital 5.1 include ABC, DirecTV, Dish Network, HBO HDTV, PBS, Showtime, and STARZ! For a list of Dolby Digital 5.1 programs, see www.dolby.com/tvaudio.
Digital Swiss Army Knife
DUBLIN, CALIF. — CMC Magnetics began shipping an all-purpose digital device that incorporates a PDA, digital camera, MP3 player, FM radio and digital voice recorder at a suggested $349. The device features 8MB ROM, 8MB internal RAM and Smart Media Card slot for additional flash memory. The less-than-11-ounce device, which can also be used as a USB-connected full-motion PC camera, features proprietary handwriting recognition and PIM software that synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook. The company, whose products are available for now only on e-tail sites, plans summertime shipments of a headphone MP3-CD player that plays 3-inch CD-R discs. Details were unavailable.
Dealer Hosts Duffer's Tour
CARMEL, N.Y. — Twenty A/V suppliers signed up as sponsors for retailer Stereo Exchange's first golf tournament, held here on June 20. The event, which might be repeated annually, was designed to bring industry players together. It attracted 102 golfers, including marketers from Harman Consumer Group, Onkyo, Niles, Sharp, Adcom, B&O, Teac, Meridian, B&W/Rotel and Yamaha. Local retailers who played were from Woodbridge Stereo, Park Avenue Audio, Audio Associates, Innovative Audio, Talk of the Town and Harvey's.
B&W Jots Down Signature
NORTH READING, MASS. — B&W Loudspeakers is celebrating its 35th anniversary with the launch of the top-end Signature series, a limited production run of speakers that incorporate elements of the company's state-of-the-art Nautilus speaker. The limited-run series, reintroduced on significant company anniversaries, borrows Nautilus' tapered-tube tweeter enclosure and spherical midrange enclosure. It is the first Signature series to include center-channel and surround speaker. The series, shipping in July, consists of the $20,000/pair floorstanding 800, the $3,000 HTM center channel, and the $3,000/pair SCM surround speaker. They deliver response up to 50kHz.
HP Plans Music Appliance
PALO ALTO, CALIF. — Hewlett-Packard plans to enter the consumer electronics business with a fourth-quarter launch of a hard-drive-based music jukebox/recorder and streaming Internet radio. The HP Entertainment Center will cost less than $1,000. HP would follow rival Compaq, which plans a July 15 launch of its iPAQ Music Center at a suggested retail of $799. Both devices would plug into stereo systems. HP's device would add support for music downloads, limited streaming of Internet videos, and CD-recorder to burn CDs with music stored on the hard drive. Compaq's device features an internal CD drive to rip CDs but not burn them. Like Compaq's device, HP's model would transfer music to select Internet audio portables.
MP3 Adds Mass Distribution
VANCOUVER, WASH. — Sonicblue said its Rio 600 flash-memory portable will be sold nationwide in more than 1,300 Wal-Mart stores in their newly created Digital Audio Centers. Other mass retailers selling flash-memory portables include Target.
Niles Sponsors Races
BRIDGEVIEW, ILL. — Niles has signed on as a sponsor of five FedEx CART Championship Series races from June 25 to Oct. 14. The races include the July 29 Target Grand Prix in Cicero, Ill., and the Honda Grand Prix in Monterey, Calif., on Oct. 14.