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Play-Fi takes on AirPlay, makes streaming killer-sounding music from iOS, Android, and Windows a snap

Audio powerhouse dts announced today that Play-Fi, the company’s lossless, lag-free music streaming protocol, will soon be available for use with all iOS devices following the release of a Play-Fi app in the iTunes store this afternoon. The announcement gives the fledgling protocol some serious teeth to compete with rivals like Apple’s own Airplay, allowing users to stream to Play-Fi equipped speakers from both iOS and Android devices, as well as any PC running Windows 7 and later.

Never heard of Play-Fi? You’re not alone. The system has only been around for about a year and isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as its competitors in the market. But with the full backing of dts behind it – which claims to have touched over 2 billion audio devices – consumers will likely be hearing a lot more about Play-Fi in the coming months. Time to get familiar. 

So aside from device agnosticism, which is admittedly a very cool proposition, what makes Play-Fi different from other streaming protocols? First of all, as mentioned above, Play-Fi is a lossless, lag-free protocol. That means that, with the help of yourplay-fi-logo local wireless network, Play-Fi will be able to deliver the full dynamic range of all your music files across Play-Fi equipped speakers, allowing for pristine clarity and detail.

There are also some other cool points to the system that should make it an intuitive product to use. DTS calls Play-Fi a “whole-home technology”, which means you can synchronize multiple speakers in multiple rooms, across multiple devices with no lag time. Also, if you make an action like renaming a speaker on one device, say your iPad, the action will be affected on other devices, like your Android phone, for seamless integration. The system also avoids playing alert tones like emails and text messages on your devices, so you won’t have Beethoven’s Fifth getting interrupted by a work email or a reminder.

Integrated services for Play-Fi are limited for now, including access to your device’s local content, your iTunes library and playlists, and Pandora. But dts promises more services (Spotify anyone?) will become available to the system in the coming months.

So, where can you find Play-Fi compatible speakers? Currently, the only licensees include Wren speakers, and Core Brand audio. However, with CES just around the corner, dts CEO Jon Kirchner assured us on a conference call this morning that more devices with Play-Fi compatibility will be unveiled at the show, though he wouldn’t specify how many.

We’ll find out more about the future of Play-Fi next week at CEDIA. For now, it’s an intriguing new force in a market already dominated by Airplay and DLNA, not to mention Bluetooth. With so many wireless speakers already in play, it will be interesting to see if Play-Fi catches on. How about you? Does a device-agnostic, lossless streaming protocol like Play-Fi sound exciting? Let us know.

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