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Home-Theater Systems Get Simpler, More Advanced

1/10/2012 02:51:08 AM Eastern

Las Vegas - New HTiB systems are
getting simpler and more advanced at the same time.

To simplify setup, companies such
as Boston Acoustics, P&F USA under the Philips brand, and Klipsch under the
Energy brand have developed new 2.1-speaker HTiBs with virtual surround
processing to deliver a 5.1-channel soundfield without setting up a pair of
surround speakers. The Boston and Philips products are each priced at a
suggested $499. The Energy system's price was unavailable.

Harman Kardon is also launching a
2.1-speaker system with virtual surround, but it incorporates embedded 3D
Blu-ray player and retails for a suggested $999.

Other suppliers are launching new
soundbars with virtual-surround processing to further reduce the number of
speakers. They include Azend, Coby, Haier, Harman Kardon, LG, Philips, Samsung
and Sharp

In more traditional 5.1-speaker
HTiBs, products are getting more sophisticated.

In expanding its assortment of 3D
Blu-ray-equipped HTiBs to four from three, for example, LG is offering its
first two U.S. HTiBs with proprietary 3D sound technology. The technology uses an
algorithm to synchronize audio with 3D picture depth when 3D video is played
back. The 3D sound technology also works with 2D video.

LG pricing wasn't finalized at
press time.

For its part, Samsung is adding a web
browser for the first time to its 3D Blu-ray HTiBs. The HTiBs support HTML5 and
Flash.

In planning spring deliveries of
five new HTiBs with integrated 3D Blu-ray players, Samsung is also expanding
its selection of 3D Blu-ray HTiBs with HDMI switching and 2D-to-3D conversion.
And it is incorporating vacuum-tube preamps in select HTiBs and one docking
speaker to add warmth to music playback.

For its part, P&F USA is
unveiling a $299 Philips-brand 3D Blu-ray HTiB with 5.1 speakers, Apple
AirPlay, DLNA and MediaConnect technology to turn a TV into a wireless PC or
Mac monitor.

With PC/laptop software and
wireless dongle supplied by P&F, consumers will be able to transmit exact
images of a PC screen through the HTiB to a connected TV. The TV screen will
duplicate exactly what appears on the PC screen, including web browsing
sessions, PowerPoint presentations and the like.

In other home-theater introductions,
Samsung is unveiling its first "convertible" soundbar, which can be split in
two to create two separate vertical speakers designed for placement on each
side of a TV.

Sharp is expanding its selection of
1-inch-tall soundbars with replaceable inserts that can be used to adjust
soundbar width. The horizontal soundbars can also be split in two to create
separate vertically oriented left-right speakers.

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