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Sony Upgrades ES AVRs, Adds AirPlay Speaker

9/08/2011 08:51:11 AM Eastern

Indianapolis - Sony is replacing
two of its three ES-series A/V receivers in November at the same price points
as their predecessors but adding multiple new technologies, including the full
range of Bravia Internet A/V streaming services.

The company also adopted Apple
AirPlay technology for the first time and incorporated it into a wireless Wi-Fi
Home Share speaker.

The new ES AVRs are the $1,099 7.1-channel
STR-DA3700ES and $1,999 7.2-channel STR-DA5700ES. Internet A/V services
streamed by the receivers include Netflix, YouTube and Vudu. Their predecessors
streamed audio via the Internet from Rhapsody and the Shoutcast
station-aggregation site but did not stream video.

The new AVRs also add a setup
wizard that prompts users through the set-up process, replacing a manual setup
process. The duo also gets an activity-based user interface that lets consumers
select an activity, such as TV watching or CD playback, from on-screen icons, in
turn automatically changing audio settings and inputs.

In the top model, Sony ES is
adopting DTS's Neo:X post-processing technology for the first time to upmix
stereo and multichannel audio programs to up to nine channels when a
two-channel amplifier is connected.

The two new models join the
carryover 7.1-channel STR-DA4600ES, which remains at $1,499, and a carryover
two-channel stereo receiver.

Like last year, all ES receivers feature
four-port router, and all continue to operate as DLNA clients. Also like last
year, the top model continues to operate as a DLNA server, which can stream
audio from a USB-connected hard drive, other connected devices, and
networked-attached storage (NAS) drives to other DLNA-equipped devices such as
TVs and PCs.

 All integrate with multiple home-control
systems and feature 1080p up-scaling,

Also like last year, the top
model features DSP speaker relocation, which uses two presets to digitally
"move" speakers on the horizontal plane to deliver best surround performance.

Both models can be remotely
controlled from new iOS and Android apps that emulate both models' new
on-screen user interfaces.

In a separate audio introduction,
Sony added the first portable AC/DC speaker to its line of Wi-Fi-equipped Home
Share wireless audio speakers.

The conical-shaped $399 SA-NS500
Wi-Fi network speaker streams music via Wi-Fi from DLNA-certified PCs and NAS
drives, from a wireless iPod dock, from select networked Blu-ray players, from one
A/V receiver and from iPod-docking HTiBs.

The portable HomeShare speaker,
which features 360-degree stereo dispersion, is the company's first product
with Apple AirPlay technology, enabling the speaker to stream music from an
Apple mobile device or from a PC equipped with iTunes.

For HomeShare systems, the
company is also launching a new control app that can be used on iPads, not just
on iPhones and iPod Touches like before. The app selects songs from a
DLNA-certified PC for streaming to up to seven Home Share speakers throughout
the house, each playing back a different song. The app has also been upgraded
to lets users select PC-stored songs by genre, artist and title instead of by
folder. It also lets users create playlists on the fly rather than simply
choose playlists stored on the PC.

In contrast, the Apple Remote app
from Apple controls the streaming of songs from a PC to only one AirPlay
speaker at a time, a Sony representative said. To stream songs from a PC to
multiple AirPlay speakers at a time, the user must be sitting at the PC to set
up the operation, the representative said.

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