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Philips Expands Soundbars, Adds Wireless Multi-Room Audio

LAS VEGAS — Philips is expanding its selection of soundbars here at International CES, where it is also launching a wireless multi-room-audio system that uses smartphones and PCs as music sources.

Two of the new soundbars are the company’s first with detachable speakers that can be used as batterypowered wireless surround speakers.

Other new audio products, designed and built by Philips but marketed in the U.S. by P&F USA, include a premium Bluetooth speaker, an iPod/iPhone-docking nostalgia radio, and a transportable iPod-docking music system with DJ functions.

In soundbars, the company is launching eight models, having offered one at the end of 2012, at suggested retails ranging from $99 to $799 in widths of 32 inches, 40 inches and 46 inches. Four are the brand’s first soundbars with HDMI video switching. All feature Dolby Digital decoding with virtual surround sound, but only the top three feature 5.1-channel playback. The top two come with detachable Bluetooth surround speakers. Six of the eight feature stereo Bluetooth.

And all but one soundbar are cloth-wrapped models with aluminum or high-polish plastic accents, and all are designed to complement the design of Philips TVs.

The 2013 soundbar selection will start with the carryover $119-suggested 32-inch CSS2123B with wired sub and 60-watt output.

Four models shipping in January include the $99 HTL2101 40-inch model with integrated sub and USB port. The 40-inch HTL2151 at $129 adds 60-watt output and wired sub. The $139 32-inch CSS2133B adds Bluetooth, features 60-watt output and wired sub, but lacks USB. The fourth bar shipping in January is the 40-inch $149 HTL2160, which features USB, 60-watt output, wired sub, and Bluetooth.

HDMI inputs start with the 46-inch $179 HTL3120, shipping in March with dual HDMI inputs, integrated sub, 120-watt output, Bluetooth and USB.

For May shipment, the 46-inch $249 HTL5110 features dual HDMI inputs, adds Dolby Digital 5.1 playback through 5.1 speakers, integrated sub, 110-watt output, USB and Bluetooth, and styling resembling the front of an airplane wing. Motion sensors are featured to detect vertical wall placement, or horizontal cabinet placement, so it can automatically adjust equalization.

The $599 46-inch 150-watt HTL7100 and the 46- inch 210-watt $799 HTL9100 also feature aircraftwing styling and the HTL5110’s ability to automatically adjust EQ for wall or table placement. They’re due in the third quarter and May, respectively.

Both also feature detachable surround speakers that can be mounted on a wall or placed on tables near the viewer’s seating position. The battery-powered Bluetooth-equipped speakers operate for up to eight hours on internal batteries, and they recharge when reattached to the bar.

Both models feature Bluetooth, 5.1 decoding, USB, two HDMI inputs, and one HDMI output with audio return channel. The 7100 features integrated sub, and the 9100 features wireless sub.

In wireless multi-room audio Philips is adding the Wireless Hi-Fi multi-room-audio system to its Fidelio line of premium audio. It uses DLNA networking to stream music over Wi-Fi networks from PCs and Macs as well as from Apple and Android devices that run the Philips Air Studio app.

From the mobile devices, consumers will also be able to stream Internet radio services, which are included in the Philips app, as well as any DLNA-enabled music-streaming app.

The system is intended for households whose occupants own a mix of Apple and Android devices, Philips senior marketing director Jasper Vervoort told TWICE.

The products, all shipping in January, consist of a pair of separate left-right active speakers, two singlechassis active stereo speakers, and a Wi-Fi receiver to stream music to an existing sound system.

The left-right pair is the $549-suggested AW9000. The single-chassis AW5000 retails for a suggested $349, and the single-chassis AW3000 is a suggested $249. The AW1000 Wireless Hi-Fi Link, which connects to existing sound systems, is $149.

All speakers are two-way. In the AW9000 pair, each of the two-way speakers features two woofers angled away from each other to widen dispersion. A tweeter mounted between the woofers in a D’Appolito array also widens dispersion.

Philips will also debut the $199-suggested Original Radio, which mimics the design of the brand’s 1955 Philetta tabletop radio, features FM tuner, front 30-pin iPod/iPhone dock, wood case with choice of red or cream gloss finishes, and 2×10-watt amplification. It physically accommodates Apple’s 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter for use with the iPhone 5 and latest iPods.

The $349-suggested Party Machine, due in January, is a tabletop 300-watt mini system with dual rotating 30-pin iPod/iPhone docks that function as a turntable that lets users play, mix and scratch songs. Faders let users fade between tracks or blend one song into another. Lighted rings around the woofers flash to the beat of the music. An optional DJ app enables mixing and scratching stored music.

Details on a new 3D Blu-ray HTiB were unavailable, but its tentative everyday price is $299.