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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.