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Virtual CEDIA Expo 2003 Report
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2003 CEDIA Expo Report

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Although Yamaha didn’t have an update to their “let’s get rid of the channel buttons” RAV-2000 remote control, as consolation they were showing what absolutely has to be the best high-end A/V receiver on the market: the RX-Z9. This thing has everything – really!

Imagine a full 7 channels, each with 170 watts of power, plus two dedicated effects channels with 50 watts each: that’s a total of 1,290 watts (impress your friends by calling it “1.29 kilowatts”). Next add on THX Ultra 2 certification – something Yamaha has shied away from in the past. Mix in the latest Dolby Pro Logic IIx processing, a full complement of Dolby Digital and DTS sound modes, 51 surround programs (something Yamaha always does well), composite, S-Video and component video up-conversion to progressive scan output via Faroudja DCDi processing, brand new exclusive graphical animated menus, an automatic microphone-assisted audio calibration routine, more inputs than you can shake a stick at, such as six component video and 11 digital audio inputs, plus top-quality construction (66 pounds!) and you’ve got an idea of what this receiver is capable of. Blasting your socks off!

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I’m already in love, but this impressive spec sheet doesn’t come cheap: the suggested list price is $4,499, even higher than the Denon AVR-5803. The only thing lacking in the package is the remote control, which is an unintuitive many-buttoned model... but that’s easily remedied by one of several available products that are capable of making full use of Yamaha’s extensive and exemplary discrete code support. Hey, what’s another $400?

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For those who want great sound but don’t want to spend that kind of money, Yamaha’s new $999 RX-V2400 just may fit the bill. This receiver also offers great power (120 watts into 7 channels) and THX Select certification, plus a full complement of DTS and Dolby decoding formats, 29 surround programs, multiple zones, component video upconversion, 8 digital audio inputs and 7 S-Video inputs, multi-zone audio and video, RS232 control, 12V triggers and more than enough for almost any A/V equipment. For those on an even stricter budget there’s the $799 RX-V1400 receiver, which offers 110 watts times 7 channels, THX Select certification, Dolby and DTS decoding, component video upconversion, 27 surround programs and a similar arrangement of inputs.

Intrigue Technologies

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The big news at Intrigue’s booth this year was the imminent release of the new Harmony SST-659 remote control. Although advertised as a lower-end model compared to the SST-768, the new SST-659 has a number of hardware improvements such as more hard buttons, plus full LCD and keypad backlighting. In fact, there are so many buttons here – 51 in total – that it would seem that Intrigue has taken the exact opposite approach as with their first model, the SST-745, which had a scant 13 keys. The SST-659 once again features a great physical design that, while completely different than the SST-768, features the same high quality grade of construction.

Another feature of the SST-659 will be simpler online programming – Intrigue has taken away much of the complexity surrounding the SST-768’s advanced programming procedure and, while that does reduce what the remote is ultimately capable of, it will also make it much more accessible to the average consumer who doesn’t need or even want to edit raw XML code.

The Harmony SST-659 is available now for $199 USD. Whether you want some buttons, more buttons, or tons of buttons, there’s a Harmony out there for you!

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