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Soundbars: What's Debuting At CES

1/10/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Wireless subwoofers, built-in Dolby
Digital 5.1 decoders, access to Internet audio and
video streaming services, and virtual surround technologies
are appearing in a variety of new soundbars
here at CES.

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:

Azend: The company’s Dynavox AcoustaBase 1,
a revised version of a model shown last year, takes
the form of a swiveling base for flat-TV pedestals. The
base is only 4 inches tall and works with TVs sized up
to 55 inches.

The product, targeted to retail for a suggested $199,
incorporates built-in dual powered subwoofer drivers
to deliver bass down to 50Hz, multiple dome tweeters
and woofers, 180-watt output, and SRS WoW
technology to simulate surround from stereo sources.
Other features include iPod/iPhone/iPad dock, stereo
Bluetooth, optical and coaxial S/PDIF inputs to accept
PCM audio from DVD and Blu-ray players and TVs,
and three analog stereo inputs. It’s rated at 180 watts
with less than 2 percent THD.

The company is also showing a second-generation
Envizen Digital HD600 set-top media player that plays
2D and 3D video files and music from the Internet, networked
PCs and network-attached storage devices.
It also accesses the web via HTML5 browser and
comes with bundled wireless keyboard.

Coby: The company’s first three wall-mountable
soundbars include the new $159-suggested
CSMP95 slim soundbar, which is also the company’s
first soundbar with wireless subwoofer. The
2.1-speaker system is powered 2x20-watt amplifier
for the left-right speakers and 40-watts to the subwoofer.
It switches among a coaxial digital input and
RCA input. It comes with front-panel controls and fullfunction
remote. It is 2.2 inches deep by 5.9 inches
tall by 33.9 inches wide.

Haier: The $399-suggested SVEV40-3D 40-inch
3D soundbar incorporates Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder,
optical digital input, 230-watt amplification, and Sonic
Emotion 3D virtual-surround technology from Germany-
based Sonic Emotion. The technology is promoted
as delivering a large surround sweet spot that reaches
everyone in a room.

Other features include from iPod/iPad/iPhone dock,
AM/FM tuner that can be controlled by a free Haier
app, and ability to switch among multiple audio sources
via aux input, optical digital input, digital coaxial input,
docked Apple device, and AM/FM tuner.

Also, the company is showing two Core-series
soundbars in 20- and a 32-inch sizes. Both are wallmountable
and feature front-mounted retractable iPad/
iPhone/iPod dock, composite and component video
outputs, analog audio input, and FM radio, which is
controlled from a Haier app running on the Apple devices.
The app also delivers Internet radio stations,
weather forecasts and alarm-clock functions. Both lack
outboard subwoofers.

The 20-inch $99-suggested SBC 20 features two
3-inch drivers powered by an amp rated at 2x10-watts
RMS with 10 percent THD. The wider $149-suggested
SBC 32 pumps up power to 2x40 watts.

LG: The company launched its first soundbar last
year and is coming to this year’s show with three new
models, two with stereo Bluetooth, one with wireless
subwoofer, and one with embedded subwoofer.

Philips (P&F): P&F USA, the Atlanta-based Funai Electric
subsidiary, is expanding its selection of soundbars, which ship in April at suggested retails of
$109, $179 and $349.

The company is also launching a
2.1-speaker virtual surround system with
Apple AirPlay and embedded Wi-Fi.
(See p. 26.)

The soundbars leave all audio and video
switching to the TV.

The $129 CSS2113 in white and its
CS2123 black version are 30 inches
wide and feature separate a subwoofer,
virtual surround technology, HDMI 1.3a
output and 3.5mm aux audio input.

The $179 HTS3111 is curved to widen
dispersion and features Dolby Digital
and DTS decoders, HDMI 1.3a output,
outboard subwoofer, 3.5mm aux audio
input, and Dolby Virtual Speaker for virtual
surround sound. The $349 CSS5123
Android soundbar includes wireless
subwoofer, Wi-Fi, DLNA-certification
and HDMI 1.4a output with audio return
channel. Wi-Fi and DLNA will enable Android
devices certified as DLNA servers
to send audio and video content to the
soundbar. The soundbar will also be able
to pull A/V content from networked PCs
and DLNA-certified Android devices.

The three bars ship in April. The company
offered one soundbar in 2011.

RCA: A new line of soundbars from
RCA-brand licensee Alco will incorporate
apps to access Internet-based video
and audio streaming services, online
photo-sharing sites, and online news,
weather and social-media sites. The bars
will be priced up to a suggested $199.
Some come without subwoofer, and others
will come with powered wireless sub
or passive wired sub. They ship in Q2r.

Each soundbar also features 1080p
HDMI output and built-in Wi-Fi and
Ethernet port to access Internet-based
services. The higher-end soundbars will
incorporate Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding
and might incorporate some form of virtual
surround processing.

Sharp: The company is launching three
new 1-inch-tall soundbars that come with
replaceable inserts that expand or reduce
soundbar width to match different size
TVs. The inserts can also be removed
to turn the horizontal soundbar into two
separate left-right vertical speakers sitting
atop their own stands.

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