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IPODS & PORTABLE PLAYERS / MP4 PLAYERS

OZ Company Takes On Wireless HD With Big Vendor Support

By David Richards and TWICE | Wednesday | 14/01/2009

Avega the Australian Company who developed the latest generation of audio wireless technology now being used by Cisco is set to announce several new deals with major consumer electronic and Hi Fi Companies. They also set to roll out a video wireless system that will stream HD content without the need for a set top box.

Among the Companies that have admitted an interest in the Avega technology is Apple.

With the development team still based in Sydney the technology start up is set to become a major CE player in the wireless audio market following investments of over $7 Million last year by Cisco Systems, JAFCO Asia and Technology Venture Partners

Avega Systems is now a US entity and as major Hi Fi and CE Companies court them the Company is set to face tough competition from several Companies working on Wireless audio and HD technology.

Their new wireless audio platform used in the new Cisco wireless multi-room audio will appear in systems that several companies will introduce later this year business development Vice President Peter Celisnki has admitted.

In an interview with ChannelNews today Celisnki said that the Company has a video offering that will allow display vendors to stream HD video content over a normal 802.11n wireless network without either a set top box.

"We have some significant patents that allow us to deliver fast HD audio and video content to a display screen or Hi Fi system. We are currently working with several Companies including Intel who recently demonstrated our technology in a WiFi network".  

The core of the Avega offering is an 802.11n-based hardware platform and "skeleton" user interface that clients such as Cisco can customise, Celisnki said.

The other partners could offer different features, such as gesture recognition, he said.  Avega's technology can also be used to stream multiple streams of high-definition video, he added.

Cisco is currently in the process of launching a range of home audio devices that stream music from a PC or network-attached storage (NAS) device connected to any standard wireless-N router.  

It is not known yet which devices will be launched in Australia or at what price however analysts are tipping that the Cisco gear with the Australian developed technology is set to be a popular product and that Cisco as a Company are going to become more dependent on the Consumer Technology market for revenue going forward.  

The three devices include an Internet Radio that will deliver up to 50,000 Internet radio stations via aggregator RadioTime and from Rhapsody's subscription-based Internet music service. Cisco have said at their CES press conference that the service will be available Internationally including Australia.

 

The content will be delivered via a networked broadband modem, from iPods docked to Cisco tabletop devices residing in other rooms and from legacy sources connected via the other devices' analogue RCA inputs.

The system supports streaming of about six different songs simultaneously to six different rooms, all with synchronization that eliminates echo effects if the same song is playing in adjacent rooms, said Celinski. "That's the secret sauce. We sync even if the wireless-N router lacks our technology."

Cisco's three one-piece devices are the Conductor, due in the first half at an unannounced price and equipped with CD player, speakers and colour LCD display. The Director is equipped only with amplifier and colour LCD display for connection to any speaker pair; and the US $299 Player, which lacks amplifier and display and connects to existing stereo systems. All three connect to an optional US$79 iPod dock.

Music from any networked or connected source can be selected and directed to any of the tabletop devices from any room in the house via the handheld US$349 colour-touch screen Controller, also equipped with wireless-N technology. Each tabletop device, however, also comes with its own IR remote in case someone else is using the RF Controller.

Cisco also offers its own speaker pair for the Director at US$149.

The tabletop devices are dual-band 2.4/5GHz wireless-N devices that also incorporate wired Ethernet ports and compatibility with no-new-wires network adapters. The amplified models feature subwoofer output.

Cisco is also offering three product bundles. The Premier Kit is a two-room system consisting of a Director with IR remote, a Player with IR Remote and the wireless-N Controller. The Trio Kit features two Players, two IR remotes and the RF Controller. The $549 Executive Kit consists of a Director, IR remote and speakers.

All of the tabletop devices stream music in the following formats: MP3, MP2, WMA, WAV, PCM and AAC, including protected AAC when the included iPod dock is used. The Avega-developed platform used in the Cisco by Cisco wireless multi-room audio will appear in systems that multiple companies will introduce late this year in multiple global markets, Avega business development VP Peter Celisnki said.

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