Integra is set to enter the CE market with a brand new Media Centre called NVS-7.7, based on Intel’s new Viiv platform.

Integra is set to enter the CE market with a brand new Media Centre called NVS-7.7, based on Intel’s new Viiv platform. The product is not all that different from other Viiv-enabled machines. It does have a unique sound card built by Integra that produces “better audio quality” than other cards on the market, according to product planner Marty Kashiwai. “It is designed specifically for this application,” he says.

David Small of Integra Distributor, Audioworks said”We are excited by this product as it is a perfect combination of the new Intel Viiv Platform and good HiFi technology. We believe that this will sell well in Australia”.

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Front of Integra MCE

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Rear of Integra MCE

The new product features Integra’s Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry that apparently delivers cleaner audio signals by reducing the noise associated with D/A conversion. And the company claims to have the first media server with Dolby Master Studio, the best of three tiers of Dolby technologies for the PC. Among other things, Dolby Master Studio allows users to author DVDs with discrete multichannel Dolby Digital surround sound. It goes without saying–although Intel says it here–that Dolby Master Studio lets you “Amaze your family and friends with 7.1 channels of surround sound, delivering the most natural and engrossing entertainment experience possible from DVD movies, music, games, and TV. Dolby Master Studio merges advanced audio rendering with flexible controls and powerful digital signal processing to give you the power to tailor the listening experience to your media, mood, listening environment, and audience–just like the pros in the studios.”

Other than that, Kashiwai concedes, “You will not see obvious differences from the outside. We would like to focus on supporting our installers.” That might not seem like a big deal to outsiders, but it’s an important factor for 10,000+ CE pros who base their product decisions as much on feature sets as on their relationship with vendors. And Integra is one of the more integrator-friendly vendors in the industry.

Kashiwai says Integra will take extra care to ensure that its Media Center works seamlessly with third-party controllers like Crestron’s. “We’d like to see that everything works with their drivers,” he says. “We are willing to add features for integrators.”

Out of the box, the NVS-7.7 is compatible with Net-Tune, the line of IP-enabled A/V systems that Integra, with sister company Onkyo, pioneered about three years ago. The line comprises home theater receivers, audio servers and thin clients. The clients (about $400 street price) will work with Integra’s new MCE, allowing users to access digital music (that isn’t copy-protected) in as many as 12 locations. They were originally designed to work with Integra’s audio servers, which run on the Xiva platform from Imerge. Kashiwai does not expect the new NVS-7.7 to replace the Xiva product. Rather, the MCE will serve as a “step-up” product that does more than audio.

Integra is planning a road show this spring to train its dealers on the product, which is expected to ship in April or May. The company introduced several key customers to the MCE in a private suite during CES. Kashiwai says several dealers expressed the usual concerns about MCE, namely, that it doesn’t accommodate HD content from cable and satellite. Microsoft last year announced it would support CableCard for cable-based HDTV, and a few vendors showed CableCard-enabled prototypes during CES. Also during CES, Microsoft announced a deal with DirecTV that would allow MCEs to access HD content via satellite. Eventually, Integra will incorporate these features into its product.

Despite any misgivings about MCE, “Some of our dealers are very, very excited,” says Kashiwai. Integra’s Viiv-based MCE will be compatible with the company’s existing Net-Tune clients. Up to 12 of the clients can network with the Media Center.

The NVS-7.7, with a 400 GB hard drive, is expected to retail for between $4,000 to $5,000.

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