EXCLUSIVE: At an exclusive briefing in Japan, Sony has revealed a new wave of lifestyle AV products which are radical to say the least.

They include a new low cost Theatre Stand System that incorporates an LCD TV home theatre kit and DVD player all in one very slick unit.

The RHT-G1000 is a combination home theatre-in-a-box product with its own furniture stand. The unit features left, right and surround channel speakers, with integrated twin subwoofers (‘twin subs cancel any stand vibration,’ we were told). There’s also an integrated receiver offering a claimed 600W (100W per speaker and 200W for the subs). Processing codecs include Dolby Digital IIx and DTS, plus Sony’s proprietary S-Force virtual surround… It’ll ship into the UK in April, in both white and black gloss options.   Certain to attract considerable attention the real consumer benefit is ease of use. The user just connects his DVD player to the inputs on the back of the unit,’ declared Yuji Ono, general manager, audio product planning for Sony’s Home Audio Division. It’s expected to sell for around a$3,000. This will be followed by an innovative TV/Audio integrated system, the TAV-L1, which combines a 32in HD Ready Bravia LCD screen with a Super Audio CD/DVD hi-fi system.  The design is unique. In Audio mode, the sound panel, featuring the speaker drivers, completely conceals the screen. In Theatre mode, the audio block slides down, revealing the screen. The speaker system is a 2.1 configuration and uses Sony’s S-Force processing. The company rates the power output at 50W per channel plus 100W for the subwoofer. ‘We think that 40in will be a very popular size, so that’s next,’ says Ono.

The first product will sell for around $6,000 when it debuts around May 2006. 

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A new type of home cinema  Where did the inspiration for Sony’s Lifestyle AV project actually come from? ‘We began to look at what customers are actually buying,’ explains Yuji Ono. ‘The growth in flat screen TV sales might make you think that there is a lot of potential for home theatre, but we’ve found that many customers hesitate when it comes to enjoying cinema sound in the home. There are various reasons for this, but typically there’s little space available for rear speakers or subwoofers, and the setup can seem complicated.’  ‘This project was about solving those problems. We think our target customer wants a home theatre but without complex wiring and setup, and they’re more interested in lifestyle products than big boxes. In the past, our AV products have been developed for the male user; now we want to reach the more lifestyle-oriented buyers. The concept is about integration.’

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Steve May is Editor of Home Cinema Choice. SmartHouse Magazine has exclusive licencing rights to this publication in Australia.

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