One of the companies I continue to enjoy seeing every CES is Sonneteer. Their proprietors are always amazingly perky a couple days into a grueling show, and their products are consistently interesting.
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And then there were four: Sony's music division and German media company Bertelsmann, parent of the BMG record label, have decided that they've got a better chance under one roof. Last week, the two companies revealed that they will merge their music divisions into a new company called Sony BMG.
Last week, Philips Electronics and Sony Corporation announced the completion of Version 1.0 of the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) format specification. According to a statement, the format specification will be released to licensees early this month to allow hardware manufacturers and software providers to begin preparing products for launch in the coming months.
Feeling the need to hook your audio system directly into a website for music files? Last week, Sony Corporation and Sun Microsystems announced plans to further collaborate to provide digital consumer-electronics appliances with direct access to Internet-based content and services. The companies say that the first phase of this cooperation will involve the development of home gateway software, running on appliances such as set-top boxes (connected to a home entertainment system), that will support a combination of home networking and network server technologies.
When Sony introduced the first Super Audio CD (SACD) player, the SCD-1 (see previous report and Jonathan Scull's forthcoming review in the November 1999 Stereophile), audiophiles who heard it were impressed with its performance, but wondered if its $5000 price tag would keep it out of the market for a while. Last week, Sony announced their second SACD player, the SCD-777ES, to appear in October at the slightly more wallet-friendly price of $3500.
Another portable player in the $1k range is Sony's latest offering which includes the proprietary DSEE HX process to "upscale" music while streaming. Files up to 24/192 and DSD are supported and there is 128GB of built-in memory, as well as micro SD card slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and about 30 hours of HD playback per battery charge.
Sony announced last week that it has created a new brand product line intended to identify its highest end products: Qualia. Initially, the new line will launch only in Japan, and will include both audio and video products in addition to a small pocket camera. Sony President Kunitake Ando had previously suggested the line would launch by March 2003.
While Apple's iTunes and RealNetworks Rhapsody are battling it out in the music download ring (see related story), and Microsoft is rumored to be eyeing a corner, Sony has now decided to join the fray with a new music service announced last week in Europe.