Is Cisco's price-point for its wireless multiroom music system too high?

Cisco's much-anticipated media push at CES this week is the launch of a wireless multiroom audio system and a digital media network-attached storage device. But the price point of the wireless system may stun some consumers, particularly in the current economic climate.

The products, branded Linksys by Cisco, is a Wireless Home Audio system that can stream audio files stored on PCs, devices and over the Internet throughout different "zones" set up around the house, writes Keith Cool Tools Shaw in his blog. It uses Wireless-N (802.11n) technology to deliver music throughout the home, and supports Internet music services such as Rhapsody, AudioLounge and RadioTime.

The Media Hub NAS device "gathers, organizes and presents all the digital video, photos and music that users have spread amongst various devices in the home," says Cisco. The Hub also automatically searches the user's home network for other media devices, to present all available digital media to the user in a single location, writes Shaw.

You can read the full details about the products at Shaw's blog.

What struck me is the price of the audio setup, which is made up of separate components priced at $450 for a "Director" wireless music player, $300 for a wireless "Player" that lets users extend digital music from existing stereo systems, a $350 touch-screen "Controller" and and $80 iPod docking station. Even if you buy the cheapest and most basic combo package, it will set you back more than 5-bills. However that is about half the price of the cheapest Sonos bundle.

In an interview with Cnet, Ned Hooper, senior vice president of corporate development for Cisco's Consumer Business Group, said the company is aiming the technology at consumer who want to share media around the house. He said the industry has moved beyond connecting two PCs to the same broadband connection. "We're still in the very early days of this market. There are only about 39 million households in the U.S. that are networked or 'connected' out of a total of about 120 million households nationwide. So, total penetration is still low."

If Cisco is aiming this at the 81 million households that have yet to be 'connected,' are the prices still high?

More Cisco at CES09:

Can Cisco compete in the consumer electronics mass-market?

Cisco to introduce home stereo, video gear at CES

Cisco ain't got the skills to make it in the consumer market

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