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Monster Announces Partnerships With THX, RedMere, CEI

New York — HDMI 1.4 was at the forefront of Monster’s press conference at the Consumer Electronics Association Line Shows press conference, held here this morning, along with a variety of partnerships for cable and accessory manufacturer.

Monster also introduced a new set of headphones for the latest edition of the iPhone and hinted at future

headphone products.

Noel Lee, head monster, kicked off the event by announcing a variety of speed increases and price decreases for its line of speed-rated cables, and then launched into an overview of the recently introduced HDMI 1.4 standard.

“We hope we’re going to be one of the first people to release 1.4 cables,” sad Lee. “Our factories are standing by. In the meantime, we’re going to offer our performance guarantee,” he said, referring to the company’s Cable for Life program. “Fear of obsolescence is one of the main reasons not to buy something.”

Lee then announced Monster had teamed with THX to offer what the company was calling “the first THX-certified cables for HDMI.” The speed-rated cables are scheduled to debut this month at Best Buy.

Three different speeds will be offered: High Speed 700 (10.2Gbps, $69.95), Ultra High Speed 900 (13.8Gbps, $79.95) and Ultimate High Speed 1000 (15.8Gbps, $129). All of these are in 4-foot lengths.  

In keeping with the partnership theme, Monster announced it has teamed with RedMere, a developer of advanced silicone chips, for Monster’s new line of “Powered” SuperThin HDMI cables. The cables are designed for use with a variety of CE devices, including flat-panel TVs, digital video cameras and gaming systems.

The SuperThin cables feature RedMere’s MagnifEye Active technology, which requires no external power supply. This enables high data speeds and high-quality performance by boosting the HD signals directly in the SuperThin cable itself, eliminating the need for heavy-gauge copper, said Monster. Monster said the cables are approximately 65 percent thinner than normal HDMI cables.

“Super-slim TVs don’t need a big cable, they need a slim one,” said Lee. “There is a chip inside of the HDMI connector — no outboard power. Every cable is optimized for its particular length. Every cable for every length gets automatically programmed for each connector.” 

The SuperThin Cables will be available in 4-foot ($89.95 suggested retail), 8-foot ($99.95) and 16-foot ($119) versions in the DigitalLife line of products.

A DigitalLife SuperThin high-speed Powered cable for camcorders (mini HDMI to HDMI) will be offered in an 8-foot length for $99.95.

Monster’s Core line of cables for HDMI will also offer a SuperThin cable design in 1-meter ($79.95), 2-meter ($89.95), 4-meter ($99.95) and 5-meter lengths ($119).

Lee said the company would be expanding its line of PowerNet networking solutions by adding two models: the PowerNet 100 ($99.95) and PowerNet 300 ($199). Both devices, dubbed by Lee as bringing “Ethernet everywhere,” are designed to bring the Internet to any room in the house over standard AC power network. Users will be able to download live content to their Web-capable TVs, game consoles and media playback devices, said the company.

The PowerNet 100 features 100Mbps performance while the PowerNet 300 features 200Mbps with four Ethernet ports.

A universal remote control was next on the list of introductions at the event. The MCC AV50 Home Theater Controller ($49.95) was billed by the company as the “world’s first tabletop, dual and single-handed universal remote control.” Features include ergonomically designed button and navigation layout, “common sense” buttons that control the key performance and convenience features of home-theater components, Web-based setup and configuration, and the ability to create custom “palettes” for easy access to favorite picture and sound functions.

It is scheduled to ship in July.

Lee then announced a third partnership — with CE Interactive, a provider of Internet-based technical-support solution — to introduce the Monster Home Theater Connection Expert, an online service meant to help consumers hook up their home-theater components. The service reportedly details products by their exact brands and model numbers and “provides comprehensive and straightforward guidance to help customers ensure every component in their system is connected properly and working optimally,” Monster said.

The service is a Web-based software application that uses a product attribute database, with more than 40,000 products mapped, and also uses what is called the “Logic Engine,” an artificial intelligence system that reportedly looks at the attributes of a consumer’s entire system and determines both the optimal cable requirements to ensure the best possible audio and video performance. It provides step-by-step hookup instructions for connecting all components, and even provides back-panel images of their devices, so the user knows exactly which input to connect to which output, said Monster.

Closing out Monster’s list of announcements was the debut of the Beat Audio earphones with Control Talk ($189 suggested retail). Featuring a built-in microphone, they will be available in the next month.

Lee also hinted at future Monster headphones introductions: “We believe we’re only on the tip of the iceberg for headphones. Speaker sales aren’t doing so hot, but that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t listening to music.”