Yamaha Electronics will ship the first stereo component specifically designed to operate with a PC and will sell it via the Internet and traditional retailers this August.
The RP-U100 receiver, tentatively dubbed the @PET, is designed to turn a PC into a full-fledged home theater system. The device connects to a PC via a USB cable and creates a virtual Dolby Digital surround sound environment for DVD movie playback using just two speakers and contains traditional audio receiver functions. The receiver allows music and video to be downloaded onto the PC's hard drive and has user interface software for fine-tuning the on-board digital signal processing programs.
The unit will carry a $499 suggested retail price. Minimum PC requirements are Windows 98 and a Pentium 200 with MMX processor.
Yamaha's merchandising plans are still undecided. Doan Hoff, Yamaha's advertising and sales promotion manager, said the receiver will be offered to audio/video specialty stores, PC retailers and e-commerce sites. Yamaha will probably upgrade its web site to handle e-commerce to sell the @PET directly to consumers, he said.