Sony unveils 2006 home audio products

Sony unveils 2006 home audio products

John Falcone Senior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
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John Falcone
3 min read
Sony today outlined the company's home-audio and home-theater product line for 2006. Among the products highlighted were five home-theater-in-a-box systems, three A/V receivers, and one surround-sound home-theater package. A quick summary of the announced products follows.

Home theater in a box (HTIBs): The 2006 slate includes four updated DVD Dream Systems, Sony's line of sexy all-in-one home theater systems targeted at the so-called lifestyle market, plus a component-based system that bundles a separate receiver, a DVD changer, and speakers in one convenient package. The big news is that HDMI output and DVD upconversion to 720p/1080i HD resolution is now standard across all five models, as is automatic speaker setup and calibration, a function that--when properly implemented--takes the guesswork out of speaker setup.

  • DAV-LF1H ($2,000, July): The top-of-the-the-line Dream System features a high-style, flat-panel-friendly design and the option to connect the rear speakers wirelessly or with wires.
  • DAV-FX900W ($900, May): It's less than half the price of the DAV-LF1H, but this model still manages to include the same wireless rear speaker option, a five-disc DVD/CD/SACD changer, and XM-ready satellite radio compatibility.
  • DAV-FX500 ($600, May): The FX500 loses the wireless rear speaker option of the step-up model but keeps the five-disc changer and the XM-ready option.
  • DAV-DX375 ($400, April): The most affordable model in the 2006 Dream System line offers just the basics--but it's hard to complain when that includes HDMI output and automatic speaker setup. The single-disc system also includes two speaker stands that can be affixed to the front or rear speakers.
  • HT-7000DH ($500, April): Prefer features and versatility over look and feel? The HT-7000DH lacks the sexy curves of its Dream System cousins, but the system--which offers a separate receiver, a five-disc DVD/CD/SACD changer, and a 5.1-speaker package in one box--includes an extra HDMI input (in addition to the one dedicated to the DVD changer) that's perfect for attaching an HD satellite/cable box or, eventually, a PlayStation 3. Moreover, the HT-7000DH features the same auto speaker setup and XM-ready capability that's found on most Dream Systems.

A/V receivers: Sony's 2006 receiver lineup includes three models, all of which include the same automatic speaker setup and calibration feature as the new HTIBs. We assume that more expensive higher-end models will be announced separately under Sony's ES line, and we'll update the CNET Alpha blog when and if they appear.

  • STR-DG800 ($400, April): This 7.1-channel receiver offers 110 watts of power per channel, is XM-ready, and includes HDMI pass-through capability. (Having not seen complete specs, we assume that means a single HDMI input and output.)
  • STR-DG600 ($300, March): The middle of the Sony receiver lineup keeps the same 110 watts of power per 7.1 channels and XM-ready capability of the STR-DG800, but it lacks any HDMI connections.
  • STR-DG500 ($200, March): Sony's entry-level receiver is a "just the basics" 6.1-channel model that offers 110 watts of power per channel.

In addition to the HTIBs and receivers, Sony is also highlighting the SA-FT1, a 5.1-channel surround speaker system with a flat-panel design that's intended to complement big-screen LCD, plasma, and microdisplay TVs. The speaker package should be available in June for about $400.