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New Options Coming To Wireless Music Distribution

2/28/2012 04:58:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK – New options for distributing music wirelessly
throughout the house are on the way from Navvo
Group, Altec Lansing and Grace Digital.

The three companies use Wi-Fi to stream music from
networked PCs and NAS drives and from Internet radio
services, and their products can be controlled from a
smartphone app. The Navvo and Altec Lansing devices
also use smartphones as music
sources, and new models from Navvo
promise to add video streaming.

Altec Lansing of San Diego plans
early summer shipments of its first
networked music player, the LIVE
5000 tabletop speaker, at a suggested
$499.

Multiple LIVE 5000
speakers set up in a home
create a wireless multizone audio system
that uses PCs, Android devices,
and mobile Apple devices as music
sources and as system controllers.

Music sources include networked PCs and NAS
drives and Internet radio. A PC will be able to send
more than one song at a time to different speakers
while multiple handheld devices send music to additional
speakers, the company said.

The speaker incorporates Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ and
triamplified drivers.

From a handheld device as well as from a PC, users
will find music sources within the home, command different
networked speakers to play different songs, and
control the functions of speakers placed throughout the
house, including volume and ability to link up multiple
speakers for “party mode” playback. The handheld
devices will also control the selection of Internetradio
sources, which stream from the handheld
devices or from the PC.

Another Altec feature is the “now playing
queue,” enabling multiple devices in a home
to add a song to a play cue.

Another San Diego company, Grace Digital
Audio, expanded its selection of tabletop
Internet radios with the shipment of the
$179-suggested Mondo, the company’s first
with color screen.

The device features Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
to stream music from a networked PC or
NAS drive, and it can be controlled from
an iPhone/Android app.

Mondo also streams more than 18,000
internet radio stations via the Reciva portal
and streams Pandora, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM
Internet Radio, CBSRadio, NPR, CNN, BBC,
NOAA, Weatherbug, DAR.fm, Live365.com,
and MP3Tunes.

A 3.5-inch color LCD TFT display shows station
name and logo, song title, artist information, and Pandora
album art.

For use as a portable radio, the Mondo comes with
rechargeable battery circuit to charge a separately sold
$39 lithium-ion battery. Other features include USB
port to play music files on a USB stick or to connect an
optional wired-Ethernet dongle.

For its part, Navvo Group of Minnetonka, Minn., will
upgrade its planned selection of Voco wireless-network
music players to add high-definition video streaming.

The company will initially offer streaming of YouTube
HD video, but downloadable firmware upgrades will be
available later in the year to add HD video streaming
from networked PCs and NAS drives and, by the fall,
from Internet-delivered movie services, said Tom Gotuzzo,
sales and marketing senior VP.

Privately held Navvo Group is led by former Best
Buy executive Wade Fenn.

Navvo’s networked media players use Wi-Fiequipped
Android tablets and Android smartphones as
system controllers, and unlike other wireless-A/V systems,
the products enable voice selection of songs and
videos via Navvo’s free Android app. An
app for Apple’s iOS mobile devices is
targeted for April availability.

With multiple tabletop Voco devices
in a home, consumers can
stream up to 10 different songs simultaneously
around the house via
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n from multiple networked
PCs, multiple networkattached
storage (NAS) drives
and from Wi-Fi-equipped smartphones.
The number of videos
that can be streamed simultaneously
hasn’t been determined.

The devices also stream more than 50,000 free Internet
radio stations and podcasts and play back music
stored on local USB-connected local music sources
such as USB sticks, USB-connected iPods other than
the iPod Touch and iPhone, and other-brand MP3 players.
Video-enabled models will also play video from connected
or internal hard drives.

In 2011, the company launched the music-only
$199-suggested V-Zone music-only player, which connects
to a home’s existing audio and home-theater systems
via HDMI, optical digital cable and analog RCA
cables. It also connects to USB devices to turn them
into local music sources.

The forthcoming three devices, which were unveiled
as audio-only products last year, will add video capabilities.
Those products include the $299-suggested
V-Zone+ Wireless Audio and Video receiver,
which ships in March with YouTube
streaming. The V-Zone+ will get the other
planned video-streaming capabilities
later in the year as an automatic firmware
download.

V-Zone+ also doubles as a NAS
drive when a USB hard drive is
plugged in.

In May, Navvo will ship the $399
V-Spot all-in-one player, which incorporates
streamer, speakers and
amplifier in a single tabletop chassis.
It will ship with YouTube and possibly
with streaming of PC-stored
video. If not, PC-video streaming
and movie-service streaming will
be available later as a firmware
upgrade. The V-Spot also reproduces music from local
sources connected via line input and via front and
back USB ports that accept USB hard drives and
other USB devices. An eSATA port is also available
for external hard drives.

The V-Spot also doubles as a Wi-Fi access point and
NAS drive.

In the summer, Navvo plans to ship the componentstyle
dual-output Dual Pro at a tentative suggested
$699. It lacks amp and speakers, offers the same
features as the V-Spot, and adds high-quality DAC, infrared
blaster, and ability to host an internal 2.5-inch
eSATA hard drive. It also doubles as a NAS drive and
Wi-Fi access point.

With dual outputs, the Dual Pro will stream music or
video through one output while simultaneously streaming
music through a second analog output.

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