Here’s a short list of the surround bars, sound bars and more traditional home theater in a box (HTiB) systems that suppliers are showing:
Airfonix: It is packaging a set-top DVD player with embedded wireless transmitter with six wireless receivers/amplifiers. The receiver/amp modules can be connected to off-the-shelf 5.1-channel speaker packages to create an HTiB system.
The product incorporates Dolby Volume, which maintains a consistent volume level when audio and video sources are switched, TV channels are changed, and a TV or video program transitions to a louder commercial or to a softer scene. The technology, which can be applied to each channel in a 5.1 system, also dynamically and automatically compensates for the human ear’s lower sensitivity to bass and treble sounds as volume levels decrease.
Dynavox: In its Acoustabar series, the City of Industry, Calif., company is upgrading two iPod-docking two-channel sound bars with the addition of Apple’s Works With iPhone certification. The two wall-mountable models are the $299-suggested AcoustaBar OP-320 and $399 AcoustaBar OP-400. Both models use SRS’s Wow technology. They feature three stereo-RCA analog inputs for connection to the outputs of a TV or other video source.
The 340-watt OP-320 features dual 4-inch woofers, two 3-inch midranges and two 1-inch tweeters. The 520-watt OP-400 adds higher power and 3.5mm input. Both come with remote control that controls a docked iPod/iPhone.
iLive: The Digital Products International brand is launching two 3.1-channel sound bars, both with SRS TruSurround XT virtual-surround technology, embedded iPod dock, and built-in subwoofer. They are the $149-suggested iT209B and $199-suggested iT319B, the latter with embedded 1080p up-scaling DVD player. Both lack Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel decoding, but both apply TruSurround XT to their stereo analog inputs to deliver virtual surround from matrix-surround sources. The step-up iT319 also delivers virtual surround from its embedded DVD player’s 5.1-channel decoders.
They also feature SRS Wow HD to widen the stereo image while centering the dialog and improving sound definition. Both units feature retractable, motorized iPod docks, and AM/FM radio with clock, two A/V inputs and subwoofer output. Included hardware kits allow for wall or tabletop mounting.
JVC: The company’s first Blu-ray-equipped HTiB is a surround-bar system with separate Blu-ray profile 2.0 player and wireless subwoofer. The TH-SB100’s 2.0 player offers BD-Live capability and requisite Ethernet port. The surround bar features HDMI 1.3 output, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding, but not decoding of all Blu-ray surround codecs. It was unclear at press time whether it incorporated some type of virtual surround technology.
The 90-watt system features center-mounted 3-inch woofer, a 3-inch woofer and 0.5-inch tweeter at each end, and 8-inch wireless 100-watt subwoofer. A USB Host port plays USB-stored audio and video, including AVCHD video format and Divx Internet video. It ships in May. Pricing was unavailable.
Kinyo: A one-piece 2.1-channel sound bar features three pairs of analog-stereo RCA inputs to connect to TVs, DVD players and one other source. It features built-in source switching, 45-watt amplification with biamplification and SRS Wow HD technology.
LG: See p. 12 for information about LG’s latest introductions.
Memorex: The $199-suggested MiVSD2995 DVD sound bar with iPod dock is the brand’s first DVD-equipped sound bar and first dock-equipped sound bar. It features 2.1-channel amplification, SRS TruSurround technology to deliver a 5.1-channel surround effect from DVDs and other connected surround sources, slot-load HDMI DVD player, FM radio, SRS’s TruBass and Dialog Clarity technologies. The system displays iPod-stored video on a connected TV.
Philips: New HTiBs to be unveiled by Philips & Funai at an off-site venue include the Philips brand’s first Blu-ray-equipped HTiB and two surround bars with wireless subwoofer.
The Blu-ray HTiB features 5.1 speakers and BonusView but is not upgradable to BD 2.0 to offer BD Live capability. It features 1080p playback at 24 fps, Deep Color and xv Color, playback of DivX and WMV video, SD card slot and HDMI 1.3 CEC.
Three new 5.1-speaker HTiBs with integrated DVD player all come with included iPod dock that’s iPhone-compatible but not certified as Works With iPhone. The HTS3376D, HTS 3372D and HTS3371D feature FM tuner, USB 2.0, 1080p up-scaling, and multiple digital inputs. The 3376D features floorstanding left-right front speakers. The 3372D and 3371D use bookshelf speakers but add playback of discs encoded with DivX Ultra video files, MP3 and WMA audio files and JPEG pictures.
Four surround bars, all with Dolby Virtual Speaker and 300-watt output, include the HSB2313 with wireless subwoofer, narrow bar, USB and three HDMI inputs. The slightly bigger HSB2351 adds embedded DVD player, built-in subwoofer, and 1080p up-scaling. The HSB2303 with wired subwoofer lacks HDMI switching but is designed to enhance TV sound. The HSB3280 is intended for gamers and comes with wireless subwoofer, front-panel A/V connections, and USB Direct for MP3 playback. The company is exhibiting at the Renaissance Hotel near the South Hall.
Polk: The company’s second surround bar, due in January at a suggested $499, is the surround bar SDA Instant Home Theater, a 4-inch by 31.75-inch by 4.65-inch unit with external wireless 6.5-inch subwoofer delivering bass down to 40Hz. The system lacks embedded DVD player and connects to the stereo audio outputs of any TV to deliver an “immersive surround” effect without surround speakers, said Polk founder Matthew Polk. The speaker complement consists of four 2.5-inch bass/midrange drivers and two 13mm dome tweeters.
It joins the $1,199-suggested surround bar 360, which incorporates DVD player, AM/FM tuner, and higher output. The 360 also doesn’t need an external subwoofer to produce deep bass, the company said. Both use Polk’s proprietary Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) speaker design to deliver a virtual surround field.
RCA (by Alco): Alco Electronics, marketer of select A/V products under the RCA and Venturer brands, is showing its RCA RTS 202 surround bar, which incorporates DVD player and uses Dolby Virtual Speaker technology to simulate a 5.1-channel surround field through a 2.1 speaker system. Available for less than $200 at retail, the system comes with slim-profile subwoofer, 1080p upscaling HDMI output, 200-watt output, wall-mount brackets, and coax and A/V inputs. It’s available.
Sharp: The company’s first surround bar, the $299-suggested HT-SB300, incorporates DTS, Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II and Dolby Virtual Speaker. It comes with embedded L-R speakers and subwoofer and ships in April.
Sharp’s first sound bar, the 2.1-speaker $249-suggested HT-SB200, has SRS Wow technology to widen the sound field. It ships in January.