Eos Plans PC-Based Multi-Room Audio System

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San Diego - Eos Wireless plans September availability of a wireless-RF multi-room audio system that uses a PC as its music source.

The Eos Converge system is the company's second wireless multi-room product, joining an Eos system that uses an iPod as its music source. Both systems use the same proprietary wireless Gigawave technology to transmit music in digital PCM format up to 150 feet through walls to clients scattered throughout the house. Line-of-sight range is 300 feet.

It becomes available on Eos's Web site on Sept. 1 followed by Sept. 15 shipments to distributors.

Converge is promoted as a simple-to-use low-cost alternative to other PC-based multi-room audio systems. Neither Eos system requires connection to a home's Wi-Fi network, president Mick Sakakeeny explained. Pricing starts at about $300 for a transmitter and clients for two rooms, he added.

The systems keep costs low by streaming only one song at a time to up to four receivers, or clients, and limiting the on-chassis controls on Converge clients. Both clients, one with amplifier and one without, feature play/pause and track up/down controls, and the amplified client adds volume up/down. Consumers who stream their music through a PC's iTunes application, however, can avail themselves to a free app download that turns a Wi-Fi-equipped iPod Touch or iPhone into a remote control. In a home with a Wi-Fi network, the portable devices will select iTunes-managed music by artist, album or genre or iTunes playlist. The app does not control the clients, however.

The system streams unprotected and protected music from any PC-based music-management system because the transmitter converts the analog audio from the PC's USB output to PCM for over-the-air transmission, Sakakeeny explained.

Converge components include a $99-suggested USB-connected transmitter that streams PC-stored music or Internet radio to clients in other rooms. The two clients include a $99 model without amplifier but with RCA line outputs to connect to an existing stereo system or powered speaker. A second client, at $149, includes amplifier to drive passive speakers, which Intellitouch will also offer at $99/pair. The amplified receiver also features a subwoofer output. Both clients feature aux input.

Eos is also planning multiple bundles, one of which will be a $229 package consisting of an amplified client and a pair of speakers. The transmitter is a separate purchase.

Eos's 2.4GHz wireless Gigawave technology combines dynamic frequency-hopping digital spread spectrum with error correction to deliver a reliable wireless connection that can be broken only by an old microwave that would also crash a Wi-Fi network, Sakakeeny contends. It transmits PCM over a wide-band 1.5Mbps channel to deliver CD-quality sound, he added.

The company sells its two consumer products on its Web site and, through distributors Petra and D&H Distributing, to multiple online sites. Although the Gigawave technology provides a "robust wireless link for in-store demos," Sakakeeny said, brick-and-mortar retailers have a tough time grappling with the logistics of demonstrating a wireless audio systems

Eos Wireless is a division of Intellitouch, which makes phone systems and music-on-hold products for business.

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