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High(way) fidelity: Sony unveils SA-CD car stereo

A richer in-car acoustic experience from Sony

The Sony XAV-W1

While the rest of the world is driving around listening to compressed music files on home-brewed MP3 discs and iPod tracks broadcast over FM, Sony is betting that there is a market for audiophiles who want a far richer in-car acoustic experience. The company this week released the XAV-W1, the first superaudio CD-compatible (SA-CD) in-car stereo, which is able to play the proprietary Sony format in 5.1-channel surround sound (if you have the right car speaker arrangement).

With a 7-inch LCD screen, the XAV-W1 is also the first in-dash DVD player from Sony, which has to date confined itself to audio and Bluetooth-enabled stereo head units. Like other digital-age in-car media players, the XAV-W1 can handle MP3 and WMA discs, and with add-on modules is capable of playing HD and satellite radio and iPods. Those mobile audiophiles looking to create what Sony calls the "ultimate in-car listening environment" will be able to get their hands on the system in August for around $800.