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Pioneer’s Elite A/V Receivers Adding Apple Connectivity


Pioneer’s 2011 lineup of Elite
series A/V receivers (AVRs) adds an array of new connections
to Apple’s mobile devices.

The connections include AirPlay capability and the ability
to use Apple’s mobile devices as a remote to direct
music from a networked PC to the receivers, the company

Other features appearing for the first time on Elite AVRs
include compatibility with a free AirJam app and a free
iControlAV2 app. AirJam enables up to four people at a
time to connect an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad to an AVR
to jointly create a master playlist of songs to be streamed
via Bluetooth from the Apple devices to the AVR, which
must be connected to an optional $99 stereo-Bluetooth
adapter. Each user can shuffle, select and control the
playlist and control playback volume.

With the addition of the iControlAV2 app, consumers
can use their mobile Apple device to select audio content
from a networked PC or network-attached storage device
for playback through the AVR. Like an iControlAV app
available last year for mainstream and Elite series receivers,
the iControlAV2 app controls the AVR’s volume, bass,
balance and room settings; selects Internet radio stations
via the AVRs’ Internet radio feature; and controls Pioneer
Blu-ray players.

Via Apple’s AirPlay technology, the AirPlay-compatible
receivers stream music via Ethernet connection or via optional
$149 Wi-Fi dongle from a handheld Apple device or
from a PC’s iTunes application.

AirPlay and the other new Apple-related features will
appear in Elite receivers due sometime this summer at
prices of $600, $700, $900 and $1,100. Earlier this year,
AirPlay and the other Apple-connected features appeared
in select mainstream-series AVRs.

A $450 Elite series model was also introduced without
the Apple-related features, bringing the series’ opening
price point to $450 from a previous $550. In 2008, the
Elite series opened at $750.

Two more additional Elite AVRs at higher prices will be
announced later this summer.

This year’s line also adds new cosmetic touches, mainly
a combination of matte black and glossy black on the front
panel compared with the all-glossy finish that has marked
the series for a decade. A front door that hides front-panel
controls to present a cleaner look starts at $900, down
from $1,600.

Like before, all of the new mainstream and Elite models,
except for an opening-price mainstream AVR, features a
front-panel iPod/iPhone-compatible USB port, making it
unnecessary to purchase an add-on dock to stream audio
from a connected iPod or iPhone (and photos, video and
app content with included USB cable with compositevideo
cable). This year’s port, however, now
charges a connected iPad, whereas last year’s
port only streamed content from an iPad.

Other Elite changes include:

• DLNA 1.5 certification starting at $600,
down from $2,200 in last year’s Elite line, to
stream audio from a networked PC;

• a compressed-video enhancer feature,
putting it in the $900 and $1,100 models to
improve the picture quality of video streamed
from the Internet through such sources as connected
Blu-ray players;

• an advanced video-adjust feature, starting
at $600, to optimize video settings individually
for each connected video source as well as optimize
the video output for plasma, LCD or frontprojector
display technologies;

• expanded Internet music service capabilities
by bringing the Pandora, Rhapsody and
Sirius Internet music services to the $900 and
$1,100 price points, having only offered the
Rhapsody and Sirius Internet Radio music services
last year at $2,200; and

• vTuner software, which streams thousands
on Internet radio stations, continues to start at
a suggested $600.

In another change, Pioneer brought an interactive
owner’s manual on CD-ROM to the series,
starting with the networked $600 model.
The CD-ROM talks consumers through initial
product hookup, asking consumers the type of
products they want to connect and the types of
outputs the products have. The program then
shows the customer which cables to use and
where to plug them in. After setting up a networked
AVR, consumers can push an AVR button
and have the function explained to them on
a networked PC while the CD-ROM is playing.

In other features, Pioneer starts 1080p video
up-scaling at a $450 price point.