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Sonance Dives Into Diversification

Sonance will further diversify its custom-install assortment by expanding its selection of LCD touch screens to three from one, launching its first RF/IR remotes, and launching a new distributed-A/V system that integrates with more home systems than previous models did.

January deliveries of the products will follow shipments of other new categories for the company, including a triple AM/FM tuner, multizone distributed-audio receivers, and a hard-disk-drive music server (see TWICE, May 5, p.32; Aug. 4, p. 32; and Sept. 15, p. 22).

Another new product will distribute 480p analog video up to 500 feet over CAT-5 cable.

The company’s two new LCD touch screens — one in-wall and one tabletop — are also the company’s first color touch screens. Both feature active-matrix 6.4-inch 65K-color VGA screens with built-in stereo speakers and microphone, optional ability to display full-motion video, and Windows CE operating system.

One of the touch screens, the $2,400-suggested in-wall Navigator K4, connects via CAT-5 cable to Sonance’s new $1,200 Navigator System Controller, which serves as the brains of a distributed-A/V system. The touch screen also features the RJ45 Ethernet port and RJ-45 SR485 port for installers who want to connect it to another brand of controller. In another advance for the company, the K4 displays video through an optional composite-video card or through its Ethernet connection.

A tabletop version of the K4, called the Navigator TS4, is a $2,600-suggested IR touch screen that accepts an 802.11b CompactFlash card to transmit commands via RF to the Navigator Controller. The 802.11b capability, combined with the touch screen’s Windows CE OS, makes it possible to display Ethernet-streamed video.

Like the K4, the TS4 touch screen can be used with Sonance’s new Navigator System Controller, which delivers control over more home systems than Sonance’s previous distributed-A/V systems. Previous systems connected to IR-based home systems, but the new Navigator Controller adds control of Ethernet, RS-232 and RJ-45-based RS-485 devices.

The Controller connects to the in-wall touch screen via CAT-5 cable. The Controller is also controlled from the tabletop touch screen via IR and optional plug-in 802.11b card.

The Controller also hooks up with two new Sonance devices — the Navigator Audio Matrix and separate Video Matrix. They’re designed to distribute audio and video throughout the house. The Controller uses the Windows CE OS and features a built-in Web server to enable system control from any Web-based device, including Ethernet-connected PCs and off-site PCs.

The $1,200-suggested Audio Matrix provides switching and selection of up to eight audio sources for distribution to eight independent zones, but it can be expanded to 32 sources and 32 zones. It features preamp-level control of volume, bass, treble and balance. Other features include gain adjustments to distribute all sources at equal levels and IR and RS-232 connections to audio sources.

The $2,600-suggested Video Matrix provides switching and selection of up to eight audio sources for distribution to eight zones. It accepts composite-, S-, and component-video inputs, upconverts composite to S, and transmits 480i and 480p video through up to 500 feet of CAT-5 cable.

Also for January shipment, Sonance unveiled two IR/RF handheld remotes. One, the $600 Navigator TS2, combines hard keys with small black-and-white touch screen. It comes with tabletop charging stand and RF/IR converter.

The other IR/RF remote is the $350 Navigator Extreme, a waterproof model that floats in pools and controls in-door music sources that drive outdoor speakers. It can also be used in saunas.