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Sony Accelerates Custom Installation Effort

3/19/2004 02:21:00 PM Eastern

New York — Sony stepped up its custom-installation commitment with the launch of its first custom-installed distributed-audio/video systems in about eight years.

The systems include the industry’s first distributed-A/V systems that package source components such as TVs, DVD players and multichannel receivers.

With the introductions, Sony becomes the latest in a handful of major A/V suppliers to offer custom-installed audio- or audio/video-distribution systems.

From 1991 to 1995, Sony offered A/V-distribution infrastructure, including a multizone amplifier/controller and in-wall keypads, but since 1995, it has only been offering audio and video components with features that simplified integration with other companies’ distributed-A/V systems.

Those products will now be joined by a distributed-A/V amplifier/controller, the $4,600 CAV-M1000ES, and by three packaged custom A/V solutions. The solutions are available in one-, two- and three-zone versions that distribute speaker-level audio and amplified composite video to three, five, and seven rooms, respectively.

The packages, intended to broaden the custom-install consumer base, include Sony-brand home theater components such as DVD players, receivers, TVs, audio amplifiers, video amplifiers, in-wall keypads and the like. When packaged with in-wall speakers of an installer’s choice, the systems’ estimated prices will range from around $10,000 to $25,000, said Neal Manowitz, senior manager for consumer systems and applications at Sony. “Up until now, we sold parts and pieces,” Manowitz said.

Installers will market the systems to tract-home builders who will be able to present good-better-best options to home buyers. “Our goal is to have them installed in Show Homes and Design Centers throughout the U.S.,” said Sony senior VP Bill Fox.

The systems’ components will be sold in a rack that can be mounted in a wall or inside a cabinet. The components will be pre-wired and pre-integrated, Manowitz said. “We’re removing the integration work for the installer so they can sell completely pre-integrated solutions in a rack all wired up,” he said. Pre-programmed remote controls and in-wall keypads are included.

The M1000ES, due in June, is a standalone product that’s not part of the current packages but might be incorporated in a new package later this year, Fox noted.

The M1000ES, nonetheless, is also meant to broaden the custom-install base by packaging $6,000 to $8,000 worth of components and functionality into a $4,600 purchase that includes a tabletop battery-powered two-way RF touchpanel remote, said Manowitz.

The M1000ES is a seven-zone component incorporating 12x30-watt amplifier, audio distribution over speaker cable, and video distribution over RG-6 coax. Up to eight separate sources can be selected and controlled independently from each of seven zones, including the home theater zone, by up to 12 in-wall LCD keypads, up to two per zone, and by a two-way wireless-RF 5.1-inch LCD touch-screen controller. The LCD keypads and controller display CD and DVD titles.

Individual in-wall keypads with LCD display cost $400 each.

Each packaged system, called a Home Entertainment Solution, includes an A/V receiver, a CD and DVD player, a VCR, an in-wall surround-sound speaker system, and a choice of WEGA HDTV sets for the home theater room. The TV options are direct-view CRTs, Grand WEGA LCD-based rear-projection sets, and Plasma WEGA flat-panel displays.

 

The NHS-301 three-room, one-zone package includes an in-wall rack with five-disc DVD/CD changer, VCR, ES-series receiver, HDTV, speakers and remote controller in the main home-theater room. The system includes in-wall volume controls and in-wall speakers for listening to audio in two additional rooms.

The NHS-502 five-room, two-zone package offers in-wall keypad controls in five rooms. The system distributes audio and video to four rooms and audio to a fifth room. With two-zone capability, people can watch a TV program in the home theater room and view a DVD movie in another room.

At the top, the NHS-703 seven-room, three-zone package adds a 400-disc CD/DVD changer. The system distributes audio and video to four rooms and audio to three additional rooms. A different source can be playing simultaneously in each of three zones.

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