Speaker wires and A/V cables are the bane of any home theater system. In recent years, most mainstream manufacturers have offered one of two options to cut the number of wires: produce virtual surround systems that offer only one or two speakers (plus a subwoofer); or utilize a wireless rear speaker module that eliminates the need to run speaker cables the length of the room (but still necessitates quite a few cables of its own). But true wireless A/V systems have remained elusive.
Enter Neosonik. The start-up hi-fi company is using CES to highlight its home theater technology that enables wireless audio and video. The hub of the system is a supercharged A/V controller with multiple analog and digital inputs (including HDMI 1.3 ports). In addition to performing all the standard functions of a high-end A/V receiver, the controller can wirelessly broadcast 5.1 audio channels to each of the companion speakers in the Neosonik system. Even more impressive, the controller broadcasts wireless HD video to a tiny dongle that plugs into the HDMI port of your HDTV.
We didn't get a chance to see the Neosonik video streaming in action (though CNET has seen the system prove its mettle before), but the system was delivering silky-smooth CD sound to a pair of wireless tower speakers in Neosonik's demo suite. It's impressive, to be sure, but it's worth noting that it's not completely wireless: each component (the A/V controller, the five speakers, the subwoofer, and the HDMI video dongle) needs to be plugged into the wall for power, of course. And the A/V controller will still have all of your A/V components wired into it.
That said, the Neosonik is--from a conceptual standpoint--about as close to ideal as one can expect. While we've seen wireless surround speakers (Avega Systems' as-yet-unreleased system from CES 2006) and wireless video (Philips Wireless HDMI system) before, the Neosonik is the first to combine them into one system.
Neosonik expects to begin shipping several wireless components and systems by mid-2007, with prices ranging from $6,000 to $10,000. But perhaps more enticing is that the company is planning on licensing its technology to other manufacturers under the name "AirPower A/V." The company is hoping that AirPower becomes a universal standard for home consumer electronics across several brands, not unlike Wi-Fi or DVD. For many of us, that's a dream that can't come soon enough.