Sony, Best Buy team up for new Altus wireless audio line

Consumer Reports News: August 19, 2009 12:10 PM

Sony Altus ALT-SA32PC wireless multiroom speaker system (Click to enlarge)
[ Photo: Sony ]

Hoping to take the complexity out of buying wireless audio products, Sony has teamed up with Best Buy to launch a new Altus line of music systems, speakers and home theater gear based on Sony’s proprietary S-AIR wireless technology.

At a press conference yesterday, executives from both companies also showed a new interactive tabletop kiosk-style in-store display designed to make shopping for wireless audio products easier. Among the Altus products:

  • Two iPod docking systems. The multi-room ALT-SA31 ($700) iPod package includes an iPod/iPhone docking station with an AM/FM tuner, two wireless speakers, plus an S-AIR remote control with an LCD that displays music metadata, such as artist and track info. TAIR-SW10i ($400) is a compact iPod docking station with an FM tuner, plus two built-in speakers and a wireless subwoofer.

  • Two multi-room PC audio packages. The ALT-SA32PC ($500) system includes a USB PC transmitter, plus two wireless speakers, while the ALT-A33PC ($500) has the same USB transmitter, plus a universal receiver with RCA outputs, so you can wirelessly stream music from your computer to most existing music systems. Both items come with music management software that can access iTunes or Windows Media playlists.
Sony BDV E500W home theater audio system
Sony BDV E500W 5.1-channel Blu-ray home theater audio system (Click to enlarge)
[ Photo: Sony ]
  • A small wireless powered add-on speaker package. The ALT-SA34R ($350) comes with two small S-AIR speakers (that work with any Altus or Sony S-AIR products), and a remote control with an LCD. The speakers plug into any AC wall outlet.

Also adopted into the Altus family is the previously announced BDV-E500W 5.1-channel Blu-ray home-theater-in-a-box system, which was announced earlier this spring. Sony already sells a variety of S-AIR-enabled, which were introduced last year.

Advance orders for the Altus products can be made at sonystyle.com, and they’ll be available in Best Buy stores in September. Although the products were developed collaboratively with Best Buy over a two-year period, Sony executives told us Altus-series products won’t be exclusive to that chain, and will ultimately be available at other authorized retailers, as well as from Sony directly.—James K. Willcox


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