updated 11:30 am EDT, Wed September 9, 2009
Harman Kardon AVR 3600 and more
Harman Kardon today brought out a trio of new AV receivers that, in one case, may hint at future iPod features. The AVR 3600 comes with a new Bridge III universal dock that the company claims can play HD videos directly from an iPhone or iPod. It's not clear whether the company expects the Apple devices to handle decoding the videos themselves or if it provides the work itself; officially, current iPhone and iPod touch devices will only play 640x480.
Users have reported the iPhone 3GS capable of playing 1080p at a moderate bitrate and thus have raised the possibility that the feature is simply locked out in software. A part examination has shown that Apple is using a processor that could decode 720p without depending on extra hardware for help, albeit not at the iPhone's actual clock speed. It's likely HD would require a combination of the CPU with the graphics core to achieve the feat.
Besides this feature, the 3600 takes standard definition videos on Apple devices and upscales them to 1080p while also letting users control the iPhone or iPod through the home theater. It acts as the flagship and can take 7.1-channel input at 80W per satellite (including Dolby, DTS and Logic 7 formats), auto-configure the surround through a microphone, and render video with HDMI 1.3a Deep Color support. The AVR 2600 handles 65W per satellite and drops Deep Color, while the AVR 1600 is Harman Kardon's starter and drops power output to 50W per channel while also taking the number of total digital and analog inputs to three and four respectively (down from four and five on the 2600 and 3600).
All three receivers arrive this month at prices of $600 for the AVR 1600, $800 for the AVR 2600, and $1,200 for the AVR 3600. The company has been contacted for further answers regarding HD video support for iPods but hasn't yet had an opportunity to respond.