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Sony Launches Multiroom-HD Systems, Blu-ray HTiBs

Sony launched its first two Blu-ray-equipped home theater in a box (HTiB) systems, its first two A/V receivers (AVRs) that distribute high-definition video over Cat-5e cable to a second zone, during CEDIA Expo, here.

Sony also introduced two more custom multi-zone A/V systems with home-system control and Sony’s first multi-zone A/V system for use with structured-wiring cabinets.

All of the new multi-room systems use CAT5e cable to distribute 1080i high-definition video over Cat5 cables.

In HTiBs, Sony launched the BDV-IS1000, due in October at around $1,000, and the ES series BDV-IT1000ES, due in October at around $2,000. Both feature integrated BD/DVD-receivers that will conform to the Blu-ray Profile 2.0 spec, which allows for BD Live capability, after a fall firmware upgrade. Both can decode all authorized Blu-ray surround formats, including 7.1-channel formats, but the systems incorporate 5.1-channel amplification and come with 5.1-channel speaker systems. They can not be upgraded to 7.1-channel output.

Both HTiBs also feature S-AIR wireless technology for use with included wireless surround speakers and for delivering wireless multi-room audio. The $1,000 system features Sony’s golf-ball-size speakers, and the ES system features tall, narrow, cylindrical speakers.

The two new AVRs, both in the ES series, are the $2,000 STR-DA5400ES and $2,500 STR-DA6400ES, due in September and October, respectively. Both are the first Sony AVRs to distribute HD video, in 1080i form, over CAT5e cable to a second zone, joining an ES AVR that distributes 1080i video over component-video cables to a second zone. The two new AVRs also up-scale video sources to 1080p in the main zone and upscale to 1080i in the second zone. The 6400ES, which adds third-zone audio, is Sony’s first AVR with Ethernet port and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certification to stream music, photos and videos from a networked PC. Its also Sony’s first AVR to stream Internet music services — Rhapsody and ShoutCast — without connection to a PC.

Both new AVRs are XM- and Sirius-ready and feature built-in SACD decoding.

In custom-installed multi-room A/V systems, Sony launched its most affordable system to date. The HomeShare HD System, due in early 2009, is the company’s first distributed-A/V solution based on structured-wiring architecture. The system sends analog audio, video, control signals and power over CAT5e cable through the structured-wiring cabinet to multiple rooms, where input/output wall ports and amplified keypads are installed in the wall. System costs start at $1,000 to $2,000 per zone, including installation, supplied wall ports and supplied in-wall keypads as well as separately purchased sources and speakers, the company said.

In Sony’s implementation, the structured-wiring cabinet contains only A/V-switching modules, which can be added to expand the system to 16 A/V zones. Four of those zones deliver 1080i video.

In custom-installed prepackaged multi room A/V “rack” systems, Sony is expanding its C series selection to three from one, all with ability to control home systems via an optional home controller from Control4. All distribute 1080i video over CAT5 cable and ship with included audio and video sources and in-wall keypads.