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NEW PRODUCTS MAKE THE HOME WELL-CONNECTED.

Byline: Michael Rudnick

NEW YORK-2004 has been the year of the domicile, from distributing audio and video content around the home to the migration of satellite audio from the car into the home. Distributed home audio and video, or home networking, is being driven by a slightly older phenomenon: digital music.

Distributed audio manufacturers should pay tribute to digital music pioneers like Apple and its iPod for this new wave in hard-drive-controlled distributed home audio and video.

Traditional home audio manufacturer Kenwood stepped into the distributed audio arena in October with its Fineline Networked Home Theater System and MultiZone solution.

The Fineline Home Theater System can be connected to a PC via a router -- just like another PC in the home network. The system includes PC software that enables users to view and organize digital music and video files on the PC. The Kenwood receiver can stream and play files, including MP3, WMA, WAV, MPEG1 and MPEG2. The receiver also includes a memory card slot. Kenwood acknowledged the growing trend of wireless homes by making the system Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) compatible.

Kenwood's MultiZone solution is targeted to the higher-end custom-install crowd. This multiroom audio/video solution, which was unveiled at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association's Expo in September, uses PC-based software to organize DVDs and CDs within Kenwood's 400-disc changers.

Upstart Sonos was born out of the distributed digital music trend. In time for the holiday season, the company launched its Sonos Digital Music System, a wireless multiroom digital music system with full-color LCD screen controller and media center. The system can play and amplify digital music files imported from a personal computer, as well as send music to other speakers.

In a multiroom set-up, one ZonePlayer must be routed to a personal computer. The main connected ZonePlayer can direct other ZonePlayers throughout the home wirelessly or via a wired connection.

Crestron, a player in the home control space, this year introduced the Isys i/O Touchpanel Media Center, which removes the PC from the distributed audio/video equation. The Crestron system includes a built-in Windows operating system and integrated PC applications that enable users to access the Internet and play streaming media files via the Windows Media Player. The Crestron Touchpad can route and manage files on a networked home theater system.

Even the satellite audio companies, which jumped into the electronics arena at the start of the millennium with car radio, are getting into the distributed home audio game.

Sirius used the CEDIA venue to debut its Antex Multizone Home Tuner, which has a single antenna that distributes satellite audio to three additional home-dedicated tuners.

Also at CEDIA, XM Radio teamed with Crestron to bring its C2N-TXM Satellite Radio Tuner to market. The tuner connects directly to an XM Radio antenna and is controlled with any Crestron touchpanel or keypad. Users can search through XM's satellite radio programming from a two-way Crestron wireless touchpanel and distribute music on audio receivers throughout the home.

A less complex step, but a milestone for satellite audio companies this year, has been the migration into the home via dedicated tuners that can be integrated into home theater systems. Up to this point, the only option has been portable units that may be used in the home with docking stations.

Sirius teamed with Kenwood to launch the DT-7000S Home Tuner. Kenwood's satellite audio tuner features a digital output that connects directly to home theater controllers; has the ability to save up to 24 song titles and artist names; and boasts a four-line LCD display that lists the song name, artist, music genre and channel.

Sirius also entered the home by combining its satellite audio technology with Tivoli Audio's classic tabletop radio design via the late-year launch of the Tivoli satellite radio.

XM Satellite Radio was no stranger to the living room this year. The satellite radio provider joined forces with Polk Audio to launch a midlevel component tuner, labeled the XM Reference Tuner. The tuner, which began shipping in November, was designed to match standard home theater components.

But XM is not stopping at the home nor the car -- the company has brought a new portability to satellite radio. XM claims its new MyFi XM2Go Portable Satellite Radio is the first portable handheld satellite radio. While other portable satellite radio products take a larger boom-box form, the MyFi features a built-in satellite antenna, headphones, a carrying case and belt-clip for a personal touch.

Caption(s): Crestron this year introduced the Isys i/O Touchpanel Media Center, which removes the PC from the distributed audio/video equation. / Kenwood stepped into the digital distributed audio arena this year with its Fineline Networked Home Theater System and MultiZone solution.
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Title Annotation:Sonos, Crestron Electronic Inc., Kenwood
Comment:NEW PRODUCTS MAKE THE HOME WELL-CONNECTED.(Sonos, Crestron Electronic Inc., Kenwood)
Author:Rudnick, Michael
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 20, 2004
Words:785
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