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Wireless Surround System Debuts

A wireless 5.1-channel surround-sound system from SoundOn will be available in the fourth quarter and will be followed in 2008 by wireless PC speakers, a sound-bar-type speaker with wireless subwoofer, and a device for transmitting PC and iPod music wirelessly to an existing sound system.

SoundOn, which also market wireless-RF headphones, uses 2.4GHz adaptive frequency-hopping (AFH) spread spectrum technology to transmit uncompressed 48kHz/16-bit CD-quality audio.

The surround sound system is the $599-suggested WHT-510, promoted as the first surround sound system with wireless speakers for all channels, not just the surround channels. The system consists of four wireless bookshelf speakers, a wireless horizontal center channel- speaker, and a wireless subwoofer. No sources are included. The center channel incorporates front-panel controls, wireless transmitter with 75-foot range, and Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder. The center channel also incorporates an IR eye for use with included remote. Total system output is said to be 840 watts, and latency is said to be only 15ms.

“There is finally a solution for those who either cannot afford the high cost of instillation or whose living space literally doesn’t allow wires to go where they need to go,” said sales and marketing VP Shaun Hong.

The WHT-510 will be available in the fourth quarter in Costco and QVC and in the first quarter in Sam’s Club.

SoundOn’s 2008 products include a $399-suggested soundbar-type 2.1-channel speaker with wireless subwoofer and wired iPod dock. Another planned product is the SoundHopper, which consists of a pocket-size 2.4GHz transmitter that plugs into a PC’s 3.5mm audio jack to send PC-stored music to a receiver plugged into a stereo system. Pricing wasn’t announced.

Also planned: a $149-suggested three-piece wireless PC speaker system and two wireless iPod headphones at a suggested $99 and $149.

The company already offers a pair of wireless headphones with built-in microphone and multiple drivers per side to deliver Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for home theater or gaming use at a suggested $249. One of them, the WHP-510, connects to DVD players, gaming consoles and TVs via coaxial or optical digital cables, and it takes stereo line inputs for use with MP3 players. Its transmitter sends audio to up to four headphones at a time at up to 100 feet. The headphone’s rechargeable batteries last up to six hours of continuous use.

Another headphone, the 5.1-channel surround-sound PHS-600, is a wired model with built-in mike at a suggested $69. It plugs into a PC’s USB port and is targeted to gamers, Internet callers and video viewers.

A wireless stereo headphone at a suggested $149 is packaged with a portable wireless transmitter for use with MP3 players and other audio sources.

All of the products use AFH technology to prevent interference, said Hong. “All of our products stay on the clearest channel until the next clearest channel is available, at which point the device adapts to this channel,” he said.