updated 12:35 pm EST, Tue February 26, 2008
Sony S-AIR Home Theaters
Sony today marked the rollout of S-AIR, a new wireless technology it hopes will provide real multi-room audio without the added burden of an expensive or complex home theater server. Using hubs known as S-AIR Air Stations, the system can either transmit music to other rooms with the hubs (which themselves include 8W speakers) or fill out the rear channels in a main surround system without stringing cables to the back of the room. Unlike most wireless sound bridges, no security codes or other steps are needed to create a link between receivers, Sony claims.
Beyond the core $120 Air Station and a $149 kit for rear-channel audio (the WAHT-SA10), four full home theater systems are launching along with the S-AIR technology itself. The $500 HDX576WF (pictured at top) serves as the flagship with a full 5.1-channel speaker system that includes the rear wireless kit and floor-standing speakers, a five-disc DVD changer/receiver, and an iPod dock. A cradle Walkman players as well as Bluetooth and PC linkup devices are also available. Two mid-range units, the HDX277WC and HDX279W, offer a similar setup but include either only the Air Station (277C) or the rear wireless kit (279W) and also revert to more typical rear satellites. Both will sell for $400.
A lone home theater, the HDX275, is available for users who simply want the option of S-AIR in the future. It sells for $300 and makes both its own S-AIR transmitter, an Air Station, and the rear-channel kit strictly optional purchases. The 275 and all the other S-AIR systems are expected to ship in March.
HDX576 (other models are subsets; Air Station at right)