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Denon Bows Blu-ray, Expands Networked Audio

Denon unveiled a broad product launch here at its national dealer/rep show, where the D&M Holdings brand unveiled its first two Blu-ray Disc players, an expanded networked audio selection of eight SKUs, and its first five A/V receivers that decode all standard and optional surround-sound formats approved for use on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs.

The five A/V receivers are priced from a suggested $1,199 to $5,200, and they will be joined by a similarly equipped preamp-processor that will be introduced at the CEDIA Expo.

“It’s the first time in 10 years that we are turning over the entire receiver line,” said Joseph Stinziano, Denon’s sales and marketing senior VP. The brand introduced 13 new A/V receivers combined in its specialty/custom series and retail series.

Some of the brand’s key goals in 2007, Stinziano continued, are to establish the A/V receiver “as the center of the networked home,” develop new products to “jump start new categories,” deliver “premium but usable networking solutions” that will “broaden our approach and not just appeal to audiophiles,” and improve ease of use, particularly in networked products.

New categories for Denon include one-piece iPod-docking networked music systems, a powered sound bar equipped with virtual surround and the industry’s first iPod dock/network clients that stream music from a PC and directly from the Internet. Also new: the brand’s first ZigBee-based RF/IR remote which displays the metadata of music streamed by networked receivers from a networked PC.

In 2008, said product development director Jeff Talmadge, the company plans to expand its Wi-Fi selection, and in 2009, it will offer products that stream movies.

For this year, Denon’s networked audio selection includes the brand’s first products with built-in Wi-Fi to stream music and photos from a PC and to access Internet radio without using a PC. The Wi-Fi products, which incorporate 802.11b/g, consist of:

  • two A/V receivers at a suggested $2,499 (AVR4308CI) and $5,200 (AVR5308CI);
  • two one-piece tabletop “network-music systems” with integrated iPod docks, AM/FM and clock radio functions at $499 (S-32) and $699 (S-52). The S-52 adds HD Radio, XM port, slot-load CD and USB connectivity to play music stored on USB-equipped devices.
  • the $229 ASD-3W combination iPod dock/network client, which connects an iPod to any A/V system and networks the system with a PC.
  • the $1,699 S-302 2.1-speaker home theater in a box system with Dolby Virtual Speaker, DVD player and scaling of digital and analog video sources to 1080p.

Two networked-audio products with wired Ethernet port are the $1,599 AVR3808CI A/V receiver and the $179 ASD-3N iPod dock/network client, which connects to any A/V system.

All told, eight products (six of them with Wi-Fi) feature built-in networking compared to three in the previous lineup, which used wired Ethernet connections.

The networked devices are DLNA-certified so they can access a DLNA-certified networked attached storage (NAS) device while a networked PC is off. They also feature Windows Media Connect to stream from a PC’s Windows Media Player, and will stream unprotected music from a PC’s iTunes application if Twonkey Media bridging software is installed on the PC.