LG Expands Soundbar, 3D HTiB Selection - Twice

LG Expands Soundbar, 3D HTiB Selection

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Las Vegas - LG is expanding its assortment of HTiBs equipped with 3D Blu-ray players to four from three and expanding its soundbar selection to three models from one.

Here at CES, the company is unveiling four new 3D Blu-ray 5.1-speaker HTiBs, all incorporating LG's SmartTV platform to access online audio and video services. They ship in February.

This year's models feature an expanded roster of Smart TV content partners, and like last year's 3D models, they access LG's app store to download almost 200 free and paid-for apps.

The top two HTiBs are also LG's first U.S. HTiBs with proprietary 3D sound technology, an algorithm said to synchronize audio with 3D picture depth when playing back 3D video from Blu-ray discs and broadcast sources. The 3D sound technology also works with 2D video.

The top two models also feature HDMI 1.4a output with audio return channel, and the two are the first LG HTiBs HDMI standby passthrough, enabling users to connect a cable or satellite box to the HTiB's HDMI 1.4a inputs and play back video through the HTiB-connected TV even when the HTiB is off.

The top two models are also the first from the company with an extra driver in each front and rear left-right speaker to create a more enveloping, denser soundfield around listeners. The extra driver fires upward into an opening in the baffle, and its sound is then deflected out of the baffle after hitting an inverted cone.

Also new this year is embedded Wi-Fi in all models, whereas two models last year came with embedded WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and two others used Wi-Fi dongle, which was included in one of the models.

All four models also feature remote control via iPhone and Android apps, iPod/iPhone-compatible USB port, playback of audio and video - including DivX HD video and MKV -- on a USB-connected hard drive or USB stick. The top two add stereo Bluetooth. None features 2D-to-3D video conversion.

Pricing hasn't been finalized, but the company is looking to bring the opening price of 3D HTiBs down to last year's 2D pricing, which started at a suggested $299. In last year's line 3D HTiB pricing started at a suggested $399.

The 2012 line starts with the 5.1 BH6720S, which features satellite speakers with 15-degree tilting bases. The step-up BH6820SW lacks satellite speakers with tilting bases but adds wireless surround speakers. Both lack HDMI inputs.

The BH9220BW 5.1-channel system adds stereo Bluetooth, two HDMI 1.4a inputs, HDMI standby passthrough, larger speakers without tilting bases, the upward-firing driver in each left and right front and rear speaker, and wireless surround speakers.

The top-end adds front floorstanding tower speakers and smaller, wireless surround speakers.

Smart TV services include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, CinemaNow, Amazon VOD, YouTube, Pandora, MOG, and more. The system also downloads free and paid-for apps.

In soundbars, the company is coming to the show with three new models, two with stereo Bluetooth, one with wireless subwoofer, and one with embedded subwoofer. Pricing was unavailable.

The NB3520A 2.1-channel soundbar comes with wireless subwoofer, stereo Bluetooth, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoders, digital audio input, and proprietary 3D sound algorithm to synchronize sound output with a 3D picture's depth. Other features of the 300-watt wall-mountable bar include USB port to play MP3 and WMA files from USB drives. It's designed for 42-inch TVs and uses the TV for source switching.

The NB2420A is a two-channel soundbar with the same features as the NB3520A but without subwoofer. Output is 160 watts.

The 80-watt NB2520A, sized for 37-inch TVs, is a one-piece model whose subwoofer is embedded, and it adds HDMI connectivity. It features three HDMI 1.4a inputs and one HDMI 1.4a output. It is not wall-mountable, but it features Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding.

Because of its size and HDMI inputs, it's targeted to secondary rooms such as bedrooms where gamers, for example, can connect their game consoles via HDMI.

It ships late in the first half; the other two ship in March.

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