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Bose's First 3 DVD Systems Include Virtual-Surround Model

8/17/2001 09:47:00 AM Eastern

New York - Bose's first three DVD-equipped home entertainment systems include a $999-everyday model that simulates a 5.1-channel soundfield through its two satellite speakers without confining the perceived surround effects to a narrow sweet spot.

The system, dubbed 3-2-1, will ship in September along with the new DVD-equipped Lifestyle 28 and 35 five-satellite home entertainment systems, which will retail at an everyday $2,499 and $2,999. The latter features the company's smallest satellite speakers, called Jewel Cubes.

All three solutions come with a main Media Center electronics module that incorporates single-disc transport that plays DVD-Video discs, CDs, CD-R/RW discs, and MP3 CDs but not DVD-Audio discs.

The three products will be marketed through authorized retailers, Bose's toll-free number and web site, Bose's 30 Showcase stores, and the company's 57 factory stores, which sell refurbished and direct-marketed products in factory-outlet destinations.

Virtual surround technologies have been available in consumer electronics products since 1997, but Bose said their effects are limited to a narrow sweet spot along a line directly between the two speakers. In the new 3-2-1 system, Bose technology expands the sweet spot to let multiple listeners simultaneously enjoy surround sound from almost anywhere they would normally watch TV in a livingroom, said Bill Allen, product planning and development manager. The effects 'don't fall apart abruptly at a certain distance' as they do with other virtual surround technologies, he added.

Bose is marketing the virtual-surround system in large part to the two-thirds of households that it says haven't purchased a surround-sound system because of limited space, the complexity of setup and calibration, or limited value for the dollar. The two-satellite system also gives consumers more options for surround-system placement because it works well in L-shaped rooms and in rooms with TVs located in a corner, Allen said.

Also important, the two-speaker surround system will simplify demos at retail.

Home audio marketing director Mitchell Nollman said he hopes the system will encourage potential buyers of less-expensive DVD-equipped five-satellite solutions to step-up to the 3-2-1 and encourage consumers to add a home theater system to a second room in the house, such as a bedroom, or to a second home.

Bose will apply for patents on its virtual surround process, which combines signal processing and 'precisely aligned speakers and enclosures' to deliver the surround soundfield, said Allen. Each satellite speaker incorporates two 2.5-inch drivers, but Allen said the system doesn't dedicate one driver in each speaker to surround-channel reproduction.

Despite the proliferation of single-SKU home theater solutions, particularly DVD-equipped solutions with prices starting at $399, Bose has continued to post dollar gains in its Lifestyle home theater sales during the past few years, said Nollman. He didn't specify the size of those gains.

Bose's overall home audio sales, however, are running neck-and-neck with last year, given the economy and thinning retail traffic, he said.

In the two Lifestyle systems, Bose is more closely integrating the operation of its systems with other-brand video sources

The two systems, which incorporate multiroom multisource features, come with RF remote, but their main Media Center module incorporates an IR receiver/transmitter system and an internal database of other-brand IR codes, enabling the RF remote to control connected IR-based video components such as TVs, cable boxes, satellite receivers, and VCRs.

Users can also use learning IR remotes with the two systems to learn Bose codes emitted from the Media Center's IR transmitter system.

The company is discontinuing two CD-based home theater systems, the six-disc LS25II and LS30II.

The three new systems incorporate AM/FM tuner, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding, and proprietary signal processing in the Media Center component, where the CD/DVD transport also resides.

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