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Pioneer's Elite AVRs Offer Better Apple Connectivity

6/07/2011 03:09:38 PM Eastern
Long Beach, Calif. - Pioneer's 2011 lineup of Elite series AV receivers adds an array of new connections to Apple's mobile devices.

The connections include AirPlay capability and the ability to use Apple's mobile devices as a remote to direct music from a networked PC to the receivers, the company said.

 Other features appearing for the first time on Elite AV receivers include compatibility with a free AirJam app and a free iControlAV2 app. AirJam enables up to four people at a time to connect an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad to an AVR to jointly create a master playlist of songs to be streamed via Bluetooth from the Apple devices to the AVR, which must be connected to an optional $99 stereo-Bluetooth adapter. Each user can shuffle, select, and control the playlist and control playback volume.

With the addition of the iControlAV2 app, consumers can use their mobile Apple device to select audio content from a networked PC or NAS device for playback through the AVR. Like an iControl AV app available last year for mainstream and Elite series receivers, the iControlAV2 app controls the AVR's volume, bass, balance, and room settings, selects Internet radio stations via the AVRs' Internet radio feature, and controls Pioneer Blu-ray players.

Via Apple's AirPlay technology, the AirPlay-compatible receivers stream music via Ethernet connection or via optional $149-MAP Wi-Fi dongle from a hand-held Apple device or from a PC's iTunes application.

AirPlay and the other new Appl-related features will appear in Elite receivers due sometime this summer at suggested retails of $600, $700, $900, and $1,100. Earlier this year, AirPlay and the other Apple-connected features appeared in select mainstream-series AV receivers.

 Like before, all of the new mainstream and Elite models, except for an opening-price mainstream AVR, features a front-panel iPod/iPhone-compatible USB port, making it unnecessary to purchase an add-on dock to stream audio from a connected iPod or iPhone (and photos, video and app content with included USB cable with composite-video cable). This year's port, however, now charges a connected iPad, whereas last year's port only streamed content from an iPad.

Other Elite changes include:

* DLNA 1.5 certification being reduced to $600 from $2,200 in last year's Elite line;

* a compressed-video enhancer feature, putting it in the $900 and $1,100 models to improve the picture quality of video streamed from the Internet through such sources as connected Blu-ray players;

 * expanded Internet music service capabilities by bringing the Pandora, Rhapsody and Sirius Internet music services to the $900 and $1,100 price points, having only offered the Rhapsody and Sirius Internet Radio music services last year at $2,200;

* and vTuner software will stream thousands on Internet radio stations continues to start at a suggested $600.

In another change, Pioneer brought an interactive owner's manual on CD-ROM to the series, starting with the networked $600 model. The CD-ROM talks consumers through initial product hookup, asking consumers the type of products they want to connect and the types of outputs the products have. The program then shows the customer which cables to use and where to plug them in. After setting up a networked AVR, consumers can push an AVR button and have the function explained to them on a networked PC while the CD-ROM is playing.

 In other features, Pioneer starts 1080p video upscaling at $450 price point, but starting at $900, Pioneer adds step-up Marvell Qdeo processing. Starting at $600, Elite adds an advanced video adjust feature that optimizes video signals by the type of connected display. As a result, the technology enhances the black levels of video on LCD screens and yields sharper images on front projectors, the company said.
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