Sony and Best Buy Team Up on Altus Audio Line

Sony Altus AIR-SW10Ti iPod Dock

Electronics maker Sony and retailer Best Buy have taken the wraps of their jointly developed Altus line of audio gear, which the companies say is the result of almost two years of collaborative market research and engineering. The products are available for pre-order online via Sony’s sonystyle.com Web-based store, and will appear in Best Buy retail locations in September…although other retail partners will also be carrying Altus products.

“By working with Sony throughout the product development process, we were able to focus directly on our customer to better understand their needs and interpret how best to present ALTUS in a retail environment,” said Best Buy’s executive VP of customer operating groups Mike Vitelli, in a statement. The alliance does mark a new trend where retailers are increasingly working directly with product manufacturers to develop products they see as matching their customer demographics, as well as letting the manufacturers have input on how to retail the products.

A key component of the Altus line is wireless speaker systems, with two PC audio multi-room packages: the ALT-SA32PC system connects to a PC via USB and then pushes audio wireless to two speakers, while the ALT-A33PC includes a universal receiver that can connect to other audio gear via RCA outputs, letting users stream music from PCs to home music systems. Both systems can tap into iTunes and Windows Media Player, and can be used with Sony’s S-AIR accessories: expect the SA32PC to go for about $500, with the A33PC to go for about $200.

The Altus line features two iPod docking stations, with the ALT-SA31iR multi-room iPod package offering a docking station and two wireless S-AIR high-output speakers for spreading the sounds around—users can add additional S-AIR wireless speakers for additional range. The AIR-SW10Ti iPod dock features two built-in speakers and a wireless 60W subwoofer users can stash behind a couch or in some other convenient place; users can also expand the system out with wireless S-AIR speakers. The ALT-SA31iR will retail for about $700, while the AIR-SW10Ti seems like it will be priced at $400…although an apparent error in Sony’s release makes it hard to say.

The Altus line also features the ALT-SA34R Socket Speaker, which packs together two small S-AIR speakers that can pop into any available home power outlet; the speakers also have LED displays for showing music metadata and an S-AIR remove for controlling playback and volume. Expect the ALT-SA34R to retail for about $350.

Finally, if you’re looking for a Blu-ray home theater solution, Sony’s pushing its previously-announced BDV-E500W 5.1 Channel Blu-ray Disc Home Theater System into the Altus line: the system features wireless rear speakers and wireless multiroom audio capability via compatible Altus or S-AIR devices; the Blu-ray player supports BD LIve via Ethernet to a home broadband connection, and includes an iPod cradle and upscaling technology; the BDV-E500W is available now for about $800.

Gaming

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.
Home Theater

Don't wake the baby! How to connect headphones to a TV

Do you need to connect a pair of headphones to your TV? Our handy guide will show you how to hook up your headphones in a variety of ways, whether you're using wired headphones, wireless headphones, or gaming headsets.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Here's how to preserve your precious VHS memories in a modern format

There's no reason you should have to lose those precious home videos just because VHS is a dying format. Here, we'll show you how to convert VHS tapes to a digital format, and save those memories forever.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Emerging Tech

Get your head in the clouds with the best vaporizers for flower and concentrates

Why combust dead plant matter when you could vaporize the good stuff and leave the leaves behind? Here's a rundown of the best vaporizers money can buy, no matter what your style is.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Emerging Tech

What the heck is machine learning, and why is it everywhere these days?

Machine learning has been responsible for some of the biggest advances in artificial intelligence over the past decade. But what exactly is it? Check out our handy beginner's guide.
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Emerging Tech

Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Boston Dynamics wants to see Spot in the workplace, but not as part of take-your-dog-to-work days. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the technology company believes its extraordinary robo-dog is now ready to start work.
Emerging Tech

Regular paints and plastics will soon be able to ‘heal’ like skin

Imagine if paints, plastics, or other coatings could heal up like human skin in the event that they suffered damage. Thanks to researchers at Clemson University, such technology is almost here.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Microsoft’s Hololens is helping NASA build the new Orion spacecraft

Lockheed Martin is turning to Microsoft’s mixed reality Hololens smartglasses to help build NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day help rocket astronauts as far afield as Mars.