Sony, Best Buy Co-Develop Wireless Multi-Room Audio Line

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New York - Sony Electronics and Best Buy have launched a co-developed line of Altus sub-brand audio products that distribute audio wirelessly throughout the house.

The lineup includes music systems, speakers and home-theater products. All are available for presale at and will be available in September at 700 Best Buy locations nationwide, other select retailers and Sony Style stores, Sony said.

The Altus-brand ALT-SA31iR system at about $700 includes an AM/FM-equipped docking station that transmits music to two single-chassis speaker systems, each with stereo drivers for two-room music distribution.

"We're breaking new ground in the consumer electronics industry with this unique cooperation between manufacturer and retailer," said Sony Electronics executive VP/chief marketing officer Mike Fasulo.

Mike Vitelli, Best Buy executive VP and a 22-year Sony veteran, joined Sony's sales and marketing staff in a New York City press conference Tuesday to announce Best Buy's collaboration with the manufacturer on a special designed "tech table" kiosk that will showcase each of the wireless Altus components. Sporting a "Music Everywhere, Wires Nowhere" sign, the kiosk will be positioned prominently in the front of Best Buy's home-theater departments, Vitelli said.

Sony and Best Buy worked with an outside design company to create the display, and to ensure that the in-store infrastructure would properly support each component, Vitelli said. He added that he could see the approach expanding in the future to support other product categories and concepts.

The Altus (which is Latin for "higher" and "deeper") wireless lineup includes two iPod/iPhone docking systems. The ALT-SA31iR system at about $700 features an AM/FM-equipped docking station that transmits music from the docked device to two single-chassis speaker systems, each with stereo drivers for two-room music distribution. An S-Air RF remote commander with LCD displays song metadata. Two IR remotes are included. The system also sends music to other Altus and S-Air compatible devices.

The second docking system, the AIR-SW10Ti at about $400, consists of a docking station with built-in FM tuner and two built-in speakers, complemented by a wireless subwoofer. The system's maximum output 60 watts RMS. IT comes with IR remote. The system also transmits wireless audio to compatible Altus and Sony S-Air receivers.

The Altus brand also offers two PC audio multi-room packages. The ALT-SA32PC package at about $500 consists of three products: two single-chassis wireless powered speakers, each with stereo drivers and an IR remote, and an S-Air transmitter that connects to a PC via USB input. The ALT-A33PC package at about $500 comes with USB S-Air transmitter and digital media adapter that connect to existing music systems via analog inputs. Both systems are compatible with all Altus and Sony S-Air products.

Another system, the ALT-SA34R Socket speaker package at about $350, consists of two small wireless powered speakers and a remote commander with LCD display for viewing music metadata. It works with all Altus and Sony S-Air transmitters.

The Altus selection also includes Sony's BDV-E500W 5.1 Channel Blu-ray Disc home theater in a box system, originally unveiled in the spring at approximately $800. The system features wireless surround speakers, and it streams music wirelessly to up to 10 separately sold Altus and S-Air receivers. It comes with iPod cradle and the ability to connect other portable music players via optional cradles. The system is already available in Sony Style stores, Best Buy and other authorized retailers for about $800.


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