Harman Kardon Upgrading AVRs' Connectivity

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Harman Kardon focused on networking and connectivity in its 2011 A/V receiver (AVR) line.

With the launch of the four new AVRs shipping at a suggested $479 to $1,099, the brand is bringing networking capability to mainstream price points, launching its first three models with HDMI audio return channel, bringing HDMI 1.4a connections down in price, and increasing the number of HDMI inputs on all models, a spokesman said.

All but the opening price $479 model connect to the brand’s iPod/iPhone-docking Bridge IIIP dock, which enables streaming of audio and video from a docked iPod or iPhone and up-scales iPod video to 1080p.

For these and other AVRs, Harman Kardon is also working on an Apple AirPlay solution, enabling them to stream music via Wi-Fi from iPod Touches, iPhones and iPads and from iTunes-equipped PCs. Details were unavailable.

The new models are the 5.1-channel $479-suggested AVR 1565 and $599-suggested AVR 1650, both of which are 5.1 models, and $879 AVR 2650 and $1,099 AVR 3650, both of which are 7.1 models.

In networking, the brand is bringing DLNA-compatible audio streaming from a PC and network-attached storage drive down in price to the $879 and $1,099 price points, from $2,500 in a model that has been discontinued. Like the $2,500 model, both models also stream thousands of Internet radio stations.

In other changes, the brand dropped the opening price of HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs to $479 from $799 to passthrough 3D formats used by broadcasters and by Blu-ray and game publishers. In expanding the number of HDMI inputs on all models, the brand is offering one model with three inputs, one with four, one with five and one with six. The inputs on the six-input model include a front-panel HDMI input.

The company is also bringing a front-panel USB/iPod input to a lower price point of $1,099 to stream audio only from a USB-connected iPod.

In addition, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master surround decoding is dropping down one price point to $479, and Dolby Pro Logic IIz is appearing in the line for the first time at $879 and $1,099 to add a pair of frontheight channels to a surround system, a spokesman said.

Dolby Volume volume-leveling technology appears in the top two models, as it did in the predecessor models.

Proprietary Harman headphone surround technology and analog-to-HDMI video transcoding appear in all four models, with the step-up $599 model adding room correction, HDMI audio return channel, and higher power. Powered second-zone audio appears at the $879 price point along with compressed- music enhancing technology and input for Sirius Connect satelliteradio tuner.


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