CEDIA 2009 Atlanta - Sony came to the CEDIA Expo to upgrade the custom-install capabilities of select products and to trumpet changes it made recently to improve its support of the custom channel.
To improve support, the company upgraded its supply-chain management system to deliver products to installers within days of their order. Sony also put its call center agents through CEDIA training and initiated an exchange program in which consumers get a replacement unit within days, said Hiro Kawano, senior VP of Sony's home division.
In upgrading its supply chain, Sony teamed with IT distributor Tech Data in July to stock inventory and fulfill orders from authorized Sony installers, Kawano explained. In the past, Sony missed sales opportunities because it could not ship products by the time they were needed for an install, he said.
In upgrading select custom products, Sony:
- launched its first A/V receiver (AVRs) with an IP port to enable control by Control4 home-control systems. Like other Sony AVRs, the receiver features RS-232 port to enable control by RS-232-equipped home-control systems.
- upgraded its HomeShare HD multi-room-A/V system to distribute audio and 1080i video to 16 zones, up from the four zones that the system supported at launch at last year's CEDIA Expo.
HomeShare 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 CAT-5e cable through A/V-switching modules in a structured-wiring cabinet to multiple rooms, where input/output wall ports and amplified keypads are installed in the wall. Up to four HD video sources or audio sources can be streamed at one time along with content from one docked iPod. Video is streamed at up to 1080i resolution. System costs continue to start at about $1,000 per zone, including installation, HomeShare wall ports and in-wall keypads, and separately purchased sources and speakers, the company said
The AVR with Control4-compatible IP port is the ES-series STR-DA5500ES at around $1,999. The receiver is also notable for bringing the opening price of an ES series AVR with built-in networking to $1,999 from $2,499, said home division director Neal Manowitz..
Like the $2,499 STR-DA6400ES launched at last year's Expo, the DA5500ES features DLNA certification to stream music, photos and video from a networked PC. Also like the DA5500ES, the new model accesses the ShoutCast Internet radio aggregation service and Rhapsody Internet music service without connecting to a PC.
Other features in the DA5500ES include six HDMI inputs (one in front), two HDMI outputs, Faroudja up-scaling of all video sources to 1080p, second-zone 1080i up-scaling, third-zone audio, Sirius/XM-ready capability, and Digital Media port to connect Apple iPod docks as well as to a Bluetooth receiver.
A second new ES-series receiver, the STR-DA3500ES, brings second-zone 1080i video down to $999 from about $1,500, Manowitz said. It also expands the selection of receivers with second-zone 1080i to four models.
The DA3500ES features four HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, main-zone Faroudja 1080p up-scaling, three-zone audio, main-zone icon-driven menu, Digital Media port and XM/Sirius-ready capability.
Both 7.1-channel receivers ship in September.