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CEDIA 2008: Sony Launches Multiroom-HD Systems, First Blu-ray HTiBs 

CEDIA News Denver — Sony launched its first two Blu-ray-equipped home theater in a box (HTiB) systems, its first two A/V receivers (AVRs) that distribute high-definition video over Cat-5e cable to a second zone, two more custom multizone-A/V systems with home-system control and Sony’s first multizone-A/V system for use with structured-wiring cabinets.

All of the new multiroom systems use CAT5e cable to distribute 1080i high-definition video over Cat5 cables.

In HTiBs, Sony launched the BDV-IS1000, due in October at around $1,000, and the ES series BDV-IT1000ES, due in October at around $2,000. Both feature integrated BD/DVD-receivers conforming to the Blu-ray Profile 2.0 spec, which allows for BD Live capability. Both feature decoding of all authorized Blu-ray surround formats, including 7.1-channel formats, but the systems incorporate 5.1-channel amplification and come with 5.1-channel speaker systems. They can not be upgraded to 7.1-channel output.

Both HTiBs also feature S-AIR wireless technology for use with included wireless surround speakers and for delivering wireless multiroom audio. The $1,000 system features Sony’s golf-ball-size speakers, and the ES system features tall, narrow, cylindrical speakers.

The two new AVRs, both in the ES series, are the $2,000 STR-DA5400ES and $2,500 STR-DA6400ES, due in September and October, respectively. Both are the first Sony AVRs to distribute HD video, in 1080i form, over CAT5e cable to a second zone, joining an ES AVR that distributes 1080i video over component-video cables to a second zone. The two new AVRs also up-scale video sources to 1080p in the main zone and to 1080i in the second zone. The 6400ES, which adds third-zone audio, is Sony’s first AVR with Ethernet port and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certification to stream music, photos and videos from a networked PC. It’s also Sony’s first AVR to stream Internet music services — Rhapsody and ShoutCast — without connection to a PC.

Both new AVRs are XM- and Sirius-ready and feature built-in SACD decoding.

In custom-installed multiroom-A/V systems, Sony launched its most affordable system to date. The HomeShare HD System, due in early 2009, is the company’s first distributed-A/V solution based on structured-wiring architecture. The system sends analog audio, video, control signals and power over CAT5e cable through the structured-wiring cabinet to multiple rooms, where input/output wallports and amplified keypads are installed in the wall. System costs start at $1,000 to $2,000 per zone, including installation, supplied wallports and supplied in-wall keypads as well as separately purchased sources and speakers, the company said. In Sony’s implementation, the structured-wiring cabinet contains only A/V-switching modules, which can be added to expand the system to 16 A/V zones. Four of those zones deliver 1080i video.

In custom-installed prepackaged multiroom-A/V “rack” systems, Sony is expanding its C series selection to three from one, all with ability to control home systems via an optional home controller from Control4. All distribute 1080i video over CAT5 cable and ship with included audio and video sources and in-wall keypads. The current C series system, the NHS-130C, supports 13 zones, while the new NHS-A30C supports three zones and the NHS-70C supports seven zones. The 30C features 5.1-channel home theater and Blu-ray player, while the 70C adds 7.1-channel home theater, 400-disc DVD changer and music server. The new C series rack systems ship later this year.