Sony Releases Mainstream AVR Lineup

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San Diego - Sony brought the price of key features to lower price points in four new mainstream-series A/V receivers (AVRs) priced at an expected everyday $230 to $500.

All models feature Dolby Pro Logic IIz post processing to add front-height channels to a surround system. The feature is currently available in three ES-series models starting at $1,099.

 The $500 7x100-watt STR-DN1020, due in May, also offers three other features currently available only in the ES series $1,099 and up. They include Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certification to play music stored on a networked PC or other connected DLNA device; Internet radio; and the ability to be fully controlled from an iPod/iPhone app.

 The new model can also be controlled via an Android app.

The $500 model is also the company's first AVR with wireless HomeShare capability, enabling it to stream music via Wi-Fi to powered Wi-Fi speaker systems introduced at International CES. The speaker systems also stream music wirelessly from networked PCs and network-attached storage drives, from a wireless iPod dock, from select networked Blu-ray players, and from two of three new iPod-docking HTiBs.

All the AVRs feature HDMI standby passthrough, but decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats and 3D-capable HDMI 1.4 inputs now start at $230, down from the previous line's $500, the company's web site shows. 1080p up-scaling continues to start at $400, and audio return channel (ARC) on HDMI outputs continues to start at $230, a spokesman said.

Also at $230 price point, consumers get a 7.1-channel receiver, whereas in last year's line, $230 got consumers a 5.1-channel receiver.

The lineup looks like this:

 The $230 STR-DH520 7.1 Channel receiver, due in Match, features 7x100-watt amplifier, HDMI 1.4 3D-capable inputs, audio return channel, standby HDMI passthrough, four HDMI inputs, Pro Logic IIz, decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats, automatic volume control, Bravia Sync, and Bravia Widget unified on-TV interface.

The $300 STR-DH720, also due in March, features 7x105-watt amp and adds up-conversion/up-scaling of analog video to 1080i over HDMI, iPhone/iPod video and music playback via USB, and graphic onscreen UI.

The $400 STR-DH820, due in March, features 7x110-watt amp and adds up-conversion/up-scaling of analog video to 1080p video via HDMI, included iPod/iPhone dock to connect to the USB iPod interface, Digital Legato Linear (D.L.L.) advanced sound processing that upscales compressed standard-definition audio signals such as Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 192 kHz sampling rates, second-zone audio and video output, and dual subwoofer pre-outs.

The top-end STR-DN1020, due in May at $500, is rated at 7x110 watts and adds access to streaming Internet radio services Slacker an vTuner, compatibility with Sony HomeShare wireless network speakers, iPhone/iPod touch remote-control app,  sound optimizer to enhance surround imaging at any volume level, and IR in and out.


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