San 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.
Both 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.
The AVR/speaker 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 purchased.