Polk To Bring Products, Programs To Expo

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CEDIA Expo 2009 Atlanta - Polk Audio will go the CEDIA Expo with new products and programs, including a line of barely visible custom speakers, its thinnest surround bar ever, a lifetime parts and labor warranty on customer speakers, and a new branding campaign.

The branding campaign includes a first-quarter extension of the company's main Web site, a Facebook fan page already on-line, and a return of the company's long-running tagline, "The Speaker Specialists."

The improved Web site will include more interactivity and updated, easier-to-find educational material on basic audio topics, such as how to choose a home-theater system and where to place a subwoofer, said marketing VP Al Ballard. New help documentation will also be easier to find. The Facebook fan page will help the company reach a broader audience, he noted.

In returning to the tag line that it dropped about two years ago when adding such products as an iPod-docking tabletop radio and iPod speakers, Ballard said The Speaker Specialists "rings true to who we are." The company's expertise, he said, is in speakers, whether they're in radios or not. The tagline has already appeared in an ad in the New York Times and on the company's web site.

The new non-transferable lifetime warranty policy applies to parts and labor on all in-wall, in-ceiling, and built-in subwoofers purchased by consumers through installers or over-the-counter. The policy goes in effect on the first day of the Expo. The company's current policy covers parts and labor for five years.

In products, the company will display select in-wall models of its new barely visible speakers, with the in-ceiling versions planned for a January International CES debut. The Vanishing series will replace the current LCi and TSi series of mid- to high-end custom speakers, said product manager Al Baron.

The new series features slim bezels of only about an eighth of an inch, and the micro-perf speaker grilles protrude from the wall or ceiling only by 7mm. "They pretty much go away," Baron said of the speaker's visibility.

The in-wall models, intended for multiroom and home theater applications, will include left-right speakers, center channels, and bipole/dipole surrounds. Per-pair prices range from $400 to $1,500.

Six in-ceiling models still under development incorporate the same cosmetic advantages but add a patented acoustic design to deliver the deep bass, acoustic output, and dispersion of 9- to 11-inch speakers in 5.25- and 6.5-inch packages, Baron said. Consumers, architects and interior designers will prefer in-ceiling speakers that don't overwhelm the shrinking sizes of in-ceiling light fixtures, he noted.

Also at its suite, Polk will show a prototype of the first of a planned series of slim surround bars whose depth will shrink to match the 1.5- to 2-inch depths of a new generation of shallow flat-panel TVs. The first model, due mid next year, is a five-channel passive surround bar in a cabinet measuring 4 inches by 50 inches by 1.5 inches. The SurroundBar 50 Slimline will feature Polk's passive SDA Surround technology, which provides a wide, deep soundstage extending far out to the sides and wrapping around the listener without bouncing sound off side walls, Polk said.

The SurroundBar 50 Slimline will ship mid next year. The company also plans to add one more passive model and two active models to the Slimline series. All will feature a new driver technology that will squeeze the most performance, including "remarkably low bass," from the small enclosures, Baron said.


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