There's always been an annoying problem with iPod/iPhone speaker docks: with your iPod/iPhone across the room on the dock, you can't fully control the music, and all you can do is listen to music since your player is 20 feet away in a dock.
Yamaha figures the best iPod/iPhone remote is, well, your iPod or iPhone. So it's new MCR-140 and PDX-60 iPod/iPhone docks work wirelessly. You snap your iPod into a tiny module, and your music is aired wirelessly (or, as Yamaha cleverly calls the technology, yAired — I give up, why aired?) through the speakers, which can be located 30-50 feet away, depending on obstructions.
You can now keep your iPod/iPhone with you, even answer calls, check your e-mail or surf the Web while your music plays. I didn't test it, but one presumes you can play games and hear the game play through the speakers as well.
The music travels in the 2.4GHz band using a proprietary bitrate. We have no idea how the stream would be affected by other wireless traffic in your home, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but it seemed to operate fine on the CEDIA show floor.
The MCR-140 ($400) is a modular metal-encased system that also includes a CD player, and comes in 10 colors: orange, dark blue, light blue, white, red dark green, brown, light gray, dark gray and pink. If you want more bass and no additional wires, you can add a wireless subwoofer.
Even more clever is the PDX-60 ($300), a single-piece speaker dock, also available in multiple colors. Along with the standard dock up top, there's a second wired dock for a second iPod or iPhone to charge. The wireless module snaps in and out of this wired dock for wireless music play.
Both the MCR-140 and the PDX-60 will be available next month.
But wait, there's more.
Yamaha also unveiled the most clever soundbar ever. The YHT-S400 3.1 2-inch-high soundbar includes a combination AV receiver/100-watt subwoofer. Maybe that doesn't sound that clever, but by including a full-blown 50W-per-channel AV receiver, Yamaha has incredibly simplified connectivity.
Regular soundbars require two connections to your TV, a digital audio connection from your HDTV to the soundbar, then separate video/HDMI connections from your sources (cable box, game player, et al.) to your HDTV. That's a lot of cables running to your HDTV.
With the AVR/sub combo, there's just one HDMI connection to your HDTV and three HDMI inputs to connect your other gear. Brilliant. But you'll have to wait for it — it won't be available until early next year for a quite reasonable $600.