Diego – Sony is launching additional home audio
products with HDMI 1.4 inputs and outputs to pass through all of the 3D
broadcast formats currently contemplated by content providers, not just 3D
content from Blu-ray discs and games.
The three new products — two active sound bars
and a home-theater A/V receiver (AVR)/speaker
package — join a previously announced AVR
and a previously announced Blu-ray-equipped home theater in a box system (HTiB)
that offer the same 3D passthrough, or repeater, capability, Sony said. The
previously announced AVR is the 7.1-channel
shipping in June at an everyday retail of about $500. The Blu-ray HTiB is the
BDV-HZ970W, due in the summer at a price that hasn’t been revealed.
Two other previously announced
Blu-ray-equipped HTiBs — the BDV-E570 at about $550 and BDV-E770W at about
$650 — feature HDMI 1.4 output, but they lack the HDMI inputs needed to accept
3D streams from 3D-capable cable or satellite set-top boxes. The two HTiBs’
HDMI 1.4 outputs, however, will stream 3D Blu-ray video from their embedded
Blu-ray transports when the company, during the summer, delivers a firmware
upgrade that enables 3D Blu-ray playback.
Although support for 3D broadcast sources is
specified only in the HDMI 1.4a specification, audio products with 1.4 inputs
and outputs are theoretically capable of repeating the 3D broadcast formats,
HDMI Licensing president Steve Venuti told TWICE. “I do know from our tests
that if an A/V receiver can handle the frame-packing (3D) formats required in
1.4, they will not have a problem technically handling the 1.4a
frame-compatible [broadcast] formats, which are essentially the same video
structure of 2D video,” he said. The broadcast formats are Side-by-Side
Horizontal (1080i at 50Hz or 59.94/60Hz) and Top-and-Bottom (720p at 50Hz or
59.94/60Hz, and 1080p at 23.97/24Hz), HDMI Licensing said. He suggested,
however, that individual suppliers need to run their own tests on individual AVRs
and other audio products to confirm compatibility.
For its part, Sony said its two new sound bars
and AVR/speaker package will repeat the
broadcast formats to a connected TV. The sound bars are the 400-watt HT-CT350
40-inch sound-bar system, expected to retail for about $400, and the 340-watt HT-CT150
32-inch sound-bar system, expected to retail for about $300. Both are due in May.
The two sound bars are equipped with
proprietary virtual surround processing, three HDMI 1.4 inputs, one HDMI 1.4
output, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding, seven-channel PCM playback, HDMI
1.4’s audio return channel (ARC) function, and passthrough of audio and video
from HDMI-connected devices to a TV when the sound bars are off but in standby
mode. They also come with outboard subwoofer.
sound bars feature a new design updated to match 2010 Blu-ray players and TVs,
power output has been stepped up from previous models, and their subwoofer has
been redesigned with a down firing subwoofer to increase bass performance, a
spokesman said. The CT350 adds AM/FM tuner and a bracket to directly mount the
sound bar to 2010 Bravia televisions.
package is the 5.1-channel HT-SF470, due in June at about $550 with
floorstanding front and surround speakers. The 1000-watt system also features three
HDMI 1.4 inputs, HDMI repeater, and one HDMI 1.4 output with ARC. It also
features A/V passthrough in standby mode, two digital audio inputs and a
proprietary digital media port to connect to an optional iPod cradle, and
proprietary S-Air wireless technology to deliver sound or music wirelessly to
surround speakers or to other-room clients when optional accessories are