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CES 2011: More HTiBs Get 3D, Apps Platforms

1/08/2011 12:18:11 PM Eastern

Las Vegas - 3D playback is coming
to more home theater in a box (HTiB) systems here at International CES, where some
suppliers are also adding app platforms to their HTiBs for the first time and
expanding their selection of streaming services.

LG and P&F USA, for example,
are launching their first 3D Blu-ray-equipped HTiBs, launching their first HTiBs
with app platforms, and expanding the selection of Internet streaming services
available through their systems.

For its part, Sony is maintaining
its number of 3D Blu-ray HTiBs at three, but Samsung is expanding its selection
of 3D Blu-ray HTiBs to six from three, with four offering 2D-to-3D up-conversion
and all featuring Samsung's Smart Blu-ray with Samsung Apps platform.

In other developments, Sony is offering
more ways to integrate its HTiBs into wireless multi-room audio systems built
from Sony products.

Here's a closer look at what the
companies are doing:

Philips (P&F): Under the Philips brand, P&F USA is launching its
first HTiBs with 3D Blu-ray players, expanding the selection of streaming
services available through its HTiBs, and adding Wi-Fi to more models, some of
which are DLNA-certified.

Select
models will also be the company's first to offer Media Connect technology and
Philip's first app platform, called Net Apps. The top model will be the
company's first with stereo Bluetooth streaming.

Of the
five new 5.1 models, three feature 3D at suggested retails from $299 to $449.
Wi-Fi appears in four models starting at $269, all with Wi-Fi a/b/g/n. The company's
NetApps platform appears in four models starting at $269, and all streaming services are available through all five
models down to a suggested $249.

LG: The company is unveiling its first 3D-capable Blu-ray HTiBs and
its first HTiBs with the company's new Smart TV platform, which is also debuting
in select LG TVs.

In HTiBs, four new models sport
Blu-ray players, and all but the opening-price LHB326 feature a 3D Blu-ray
player. All four also sport an expanded selection of LG Netcast streaming
services. The new services were not available at press time, nor was pricing.

The opening-price LHB326 features
an optional Wi-Fi dongle, one HDMI 1.4a input and one HDMI 1.4a output. The
step-up LHB336 adds included Wi-Fi dongle, HDMI audio return channel (ARC) and
DLNA certification. The LHB536 adds built-in Wi-Fi and two HDMI 1.4a inputs,
and the top-end LHB976 adds tall left-right speakers and wireless surrounds.

The HTiBs are not LG's first
HTiBs with HDMI connections but they are the first with 1.4a.

All four HTiBs are built on LG's
new Smart TV platform, which delivers web browsing and access to app downloads,
with about 200 apps to be available at launch at the end of February, the
company said.

Sony: Three new HTiBs are the $400-MAP BDV-E280, $500 BDV-E580 and
$600 BDV-E780W, due in April, March and May, respectively. The top two come
with embedded Wi-Fi, and the opening-price model takes an optional Wi-Fi
dongle. All three come with 5.1 speaker system, iPod docks, 3D Blu-ray
playback, two HDMI 1.4a inputs and one HDMI 1.4a output with ARC.

Like previous models, the new
HTiBs stream audio and video content from the Internet via Sony's Bravia
Internet services. Also like previous models, two of three new HTiBs are
DLNA-certified.

Two of the three HTiBs, however, plus
select new Blu-ray players add the ability to wirelessly stream music via Wi-Fi
from iPods scattered throughout the house if the iPods are docked in a new Wi-Fi-equipped
dock or in a new iPod-docking Wi-Fi speaker.

Likewise, the iPod-docking Wi-Fi
speaker and two other new Wi-Fi speakers stream music from two of the three iPod-docking
HTiBs. The speakers also access Internet radio services through the two HTiBs, through
networked PCs, and through select Sony Blu-ray players. Also from the speakers,
consumers can stream music from networked PCs and from the wireless iPod dock.

For their part, all three new HTiBs
use Wi-Fi to stream audio and video from Sony's Bravia Internet services.

All sources can be controlled from
anywhere in the house via Wi-Fi from Sony apps on iPhones and the Touch.

Samsung: Samsung's 2011 audio lineup includes an expanded selection
of 3D-equipped Blu-ray HTiBs, the company's first 3D Blu-ray HTiBs with
2D-to-3D conversion, and the company's first Blu-ray-equipped A/V receiver.

In launching six new Blu-ray HTiBs,
Samsung is expanding its Blu-ray HTiB selection to six from five. All six
feature 3D, up from three systems in 2010. Four of the new systems feature
2D-to-3D conversion.

With the launches, Samsung expands
HDMI 1.4 outputs with ARC to all Blu-ray HTiBs.

Also like last year, all Blu-ray
HTiBs feature DLNA certification, and all continue to access Samsung's app
store to download more than 110 apps, including game apps and apps that stream
audio, video and other content via the Internet.

The new models, however, add new
search and recommendation features. The new search feature, for example, lets
users enter the name of a movie, and the HTiB searches across DLNA-connected
devices and app-delivered streaming services for the title.

Five of the six feature embedded
Wi-Fi or included Wi-Fi dongle.

All Blu-ray HTiBs ship in March at
prices that weren't announced at press time. Last year's 3D Blu-ray HTiBs
started at $549.

The 7.2-channel HW-D7000 A/V
receiver with embedded 3D Blu-ray player features HDMI 1.4 inputs, HDMI 1.4
output with ARC, and decoding of all HD audio codecs. It features
seven channels of amplification, embedded Wi-Fi, access to Samsung app
downloads, and the new search and recommendation functions available in the
Blu-ray HTiBs. Pricing wasn't available.

 The only other Blu-ray A/V receiver on the
market was launched by Denon early last year and has been upgraded to include
3D playback and HDMI 1.4a inputs and output, Denon said.

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