updated 08:50 am EDT, Tue July 6, 2010
Sony x600ES and S1700ES have iOS apps, automation
Sony has come out of the Independence Day weekend with a new set of ES series home theater hardware. All of the line is now targeted at custom installations and will only be available through specialty shops. Every device now has at least one IR input jack to link with a unified remote control system; the receivers also have serial ports to link with home automation systems like Crestron or Savant.
The receivers include the STR-DA3600ES, 4600ES and 5600ES. All have HDMI 1.4 inputs and outputs with 3D-capable pass-through as well as a strong Internet component. Through an Ethernet jack, they can not only be controlled through a remote iOS app for iPhones and iPods (Android soon) but share and receive media over DLNA, pass an Internet connection to other devices through a switch, and take Internet radio from either free Shoutcast stations or Rhapsody's paid subscription. The 4600ES and 5600ES can use their Ethernet to pipe audio and video to a second room, with up to 1080i upscaling in the second area even as the main room upscales to 1080p.
All three have 7.1-channel surround sound with automatic sound calibration and a Digital Media Port for an iPod or another player. Sony splits the line based primarily on inputs and audio output power: the 3600ES has 100W per channel, four HDMI outputs and no simultaneous HDMI outputs for $1,100; the 4600ES gains the multi-zone video, two simultaneous outputs and a more powerful 120W per channel for $1,500, and the 5600ES jumps to six HDMI inputs and 130W of power for $2,000.
The two lower-end ES models and a non-ES receiver, the 3D- and network-aware STR-DN2010 ($800) with nearly all the features of the ES series, should ship in August. Sony puts the 5600ES in September.
One Blu-ray player is joining the mix. The BDP-S1700ES has the requisite IR jack for automation as well as support for Sony's iOS/Android BD Remote control app. It handles 3D and BD-Live movies with 1GB of built-in storage and 802.11n Wi-Fi to both get on the Internet and share media over DLNA. Sony plans to ship it in August for $400.