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Wireless Is The Key For Sony Audio Intros

1/06/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
LAS VEGAS — Wireless multi-room audio is playing a central role in Sony’s home audio launches here at International CES, where the company is introducing multiple Wi-Fi-equipped products that share music over a home’s Wi-Fi network to create a wireless multi-room-audio system.

The products include two powered speaker systems, a powered speaker with embedded iPod dock, a wireless stand-alone iPod dock, select Bluray players and select home theater in a box (HTiB) systems.

Using the powered Wi-Fi speaker systems, consumers can stream music wirelessly throughout the house from networked PCs and network-attached storage (NAS) drives, from the wireless iPod dock, from the wireless iPod-docking speaker system, from select networked Blu-ray players, and from two of three new iPod-docking HTiBs. The powered speakers also access Internet radio services through networked PCs, select Sony Blu-ray players and select HTiBs.

For their part, all of the new HTiBs and Blu-ray players use Wi-Fi to stream audio and video content from the Internet via Sony’s Bravia Internet service. Two of the three HTiBs and select Blu-ray players are also DLNA-certified to stream audio, video and photos from networked PCs and NAS drives. Those HTiBs and Blu-ray players also stream music from iPods docked in the new wireless dock and in the new iPod-docking wireless speaker system.

All sources can be controlled from anywhere in the house via Wi-Fi from Sony apps loaded onto iPhones and the iPod Touch. Plans are in the works for an Android app.

In last year’s wireless-audio lineup, Sony used proprietary S-Air wireless technology in wireless speakers to stream music from iPod-docking HTiBs and A/V receivers in other rooms. Sony separately used Wi-Fi in Blu-ray players and HTiBs to stream content from the Internet and from networked PCs. This year, the company is adopting Wi-Fi 802.11n for all of its wireless connections to get all wireless products to communicate with one another. As a result, the products can be synchronized to play the same source throughout the house.

Among four new Wi-Fi-equipped audio-only products, the company is launching two wireless speakers, a wireless speaker system with embedded iPod/iPhone dock and a wireless iPod/ iPhone dock, which also connects to Sony A/V receivers via cable.

One of the two wireless speakers is the SA-NS400 Wi-Fi Network Speaker, due in March at $300. Information on the other audio-only products was unavailable.

From a PC or NAS drive, multiple songs can be streamed simultaneously to multiple speakers, but only one Internet radio station can be streamed wirelessly throughout the house at a time, and only one iPod-stored song can be streamed simultaneously from one docked iPod.

The three new HTiBs are the $400 BDV-E280, $500 BDV-E580 and $600 BDV-E780W, due in April, March and May, respectively. The top two feature embedded Wi-Fi, while the $400 model requires an optional Wi-Fi dongle.

As with select Sony HTiBs in last year’s lineup, the top two HTiBs feature embedded Wi-Fi and DLNA certification.

The top two HTiBs can also be controlled from Sony’s iPhone/iPod Touch and Android apps. Both models also feature USB port to play back stored audio, video and photos from a USB stick.

All three HTiBs come with 5.1 speaker system, included iPod docks, 3D Blu-ray playback, two HDMI 1.4a inputs, and one HDMI 1.4a output with audio return channel.

Among new component 3D Blu-ray players, three models are DLNA-certified to stream audio, video and photos from a networked PC. The three also stream audio to Sony’s wireless speakers and can be controlled from Sony’s smartphone apps.
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