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Monday, January 20, 2014

Philips Rethinks Fidelio and Strengthens its Surround Base at CES

Philips has taken the complications out of floating satellite speakers, with its newly announced E-Series Home Cinema Audio System. As part of the company's Fidelio line, these removable satellites magnetically attach to a bookshelf pair, instantly turning the 3.1 system into 5.1 surround sound. The consumer electronics manufacturer also debuted a soundbar capable of supporting a 55-inch TV's weight.

Fidelio Rethought

Building on the Fidelio HTL9100 Soundbar that was introduced at CES last year, Philips introduced the E5 (CSS7235Y) at the 2014 International CES. The original soundbar had two satellites that charged on the bar, then detached for placing around the room for surround sound. The new E5 system is more versatile, and has a stylized look that will fit into even some smaller home theater setups.

The Philips E5 provides high-definition surround sound without wires. There's also a wireless active subwoofer, which works with integrated amplifiers to power the bass. The subwoofer is paired with two small towers that are just slightly larger than your average bookshelf pair. The speakers plug in with HDMI audio, HDMI CES, and HDMI2x as connectivity options. The system features surround sound on demand, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS 2.0+ Digital Out, an HDMI x2 input and Bluetooth APT-X and AAC, as well as NFC. While the E5 connects to the home theater system, the Bluetooth and NFC functions let you pair devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, to play music and support video.

 The Philips E5 sports handles that practically begged to be taken away!

Where the E5s differentiate themselves from other systems are the wireless, detachable surround speakers. Sitting atop each tower is a satellite speaker that recharges while in its base, and can support up to 10 hours of playback time. The E5 system is able to recognize content and adjust sound appropriately. When set up for 5.1 surround for a movie, the satellites operate as rear speakers when they are detached from their stands. If the action in the film includes a car approaching from the rear, you'll hear the tires on the pavement as it rolls up behind you. When playing music, the speakers play stereo sound whether on the base or detached. Users can also take one or both satellites into another room, such as the kitchen or even the backyard, to serve as B speakers. The speakers can either play music from a connected stereo or be paired with a device to play music in another room or area where you would not otherwise have music.

Fidelio Design

The versatility of the Fidelio E5 system is just one of the elements that make this system attractive. It also has an eye-catching design. The subwoofer, towers and satellites feature a clean, unobtrusive look. The subwoofer stands taller than most, with a polished wood panel on the top. The satellites nestle on top of the towers to form a sleek tower, and look equally in place when moved around the room. On top of one satellite is a wood rocker panel that controls power, volume and inputs, while a leather strap makes the satellites easy to pick up and put into place for listening.

The Philips Fidelio E5 CSS7235Y will be available in the spring for a suggested retail price of $699.

 The Philips E5 provides high-definition surround sound without wires.

Built for Support

While the Fidelio E5 system fits into most spaces, sometimes an even slimmer design is required to provide sound for your television. The Philips HTB3525 TV Surround Base with an integrated Blu-ray 3D player offers just such a solution.

While the surround base looks and operates like a soundbar, it offers a little more oomph for the money. One of the biggest features on the surround base is its ability to support a 55-inch TV. The unit is built from wood that can support the weight, where other soundbars would buckle. While it is built from sturdy stock, its black cabinet and speaker cover will blend in beneath any flat-panel TV set.

"In today's home, space is at a premium and consumers want a space-saving design that will enhance their decor," said Keith Michael, vice president of marketing for P&F USA, the exclusive distributor in North America for the Philips brand of lifestyle and entertainment products, in a corporate statement. "By developing an integrated sound solution that sits underneath the TV, the TV Surround Base's sleek design offers a high-quality home theater sound experience while saving space and eliminating unsightly wires. Philips' Surround Base is made with premium materials, allowing them to be one of the few such devices capable of supporting larger displays."

 Philips HTB3525B TV Surround Base features an integrated Blu-ray 3D player.

An integrated subwoofer and virtual surround sound emulates surround sound to provide a rich accompaniment to watching a movie or the big game. The unit only requires one HDMI cable to connect the Surround Base to the TV. The HDMI uses HDMI CEC, so consumers can also control the Surround Base with a TV remote control. An integrated Blu-ray player allows for a further compact home theater setup.

The Surround Base comes with access to the Philips Smart TV Internet TV service to gain access to further content. It is also built using the Android operating system, which facilitates wireless music streaming via Bluetooth. The unit can also support Near Field Communications (NFC) for Android phones, which allows you to pair a phone with the Surround Base with just one touch.

Whether you want one bar or a 5.1 system, Philips has streamlined the home theater in a stylish way that suits the demands of building a home theater into the home. The HTB3525B Surround Base will be available in the spring for $299. A second model, the HTL4115B, drops the integrated Blu-ray player and the price. That will also be available for $199.

 The Philips HTB3525B TV Surround Base can support up to a 50-inch flat-panel TV.

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