SONY IS ABOUT TO MAKE IT ABUNDANTLY clear that it is serious about the home building market.

Starting next month, the massive home electronics company will ship new home entertainment products that will let builders offer audio at just $1,000 per room and a complete audio/video home theater experience for only $2,000 per room.

Neal Manowitz, senior manager of Sony's consumer systems and applications group, says the new entertainment systems are designed to help builders make audio and video standard items in new homes.

According to Manowitz, in the past, builders have been hesitant to install home technology because the products were expensive, hard to install, and often more complicated to use.

All the electronics for the new Sony products will be installed right into the wall. There's no complicated rack setup. All the installer has to do is run 14-gauge wire from the power supply in the structured wiring panel to the audio or video unit and run Cat 5 wire from the unit to the structured wiring panel. The 14-gauge wire is for power, and the digital content runs over the Cat 5 cable.

From the homeowner's perspective, all he or she sees is an LCD keypad in the wall and a CD or DVD changer. All the systems come with a remote control, and the systems have built-in intercoms and baby monitors. Since each room where a unit is installed will have a wall plate jack for video and audio, homeowners can also plug the system into additional media sources, including a cable or satellite box, existing CD/DVD changers, storage devices, and a digital media adapter.

Manowitz says it will be up to the builder to decide what his company offers as standard. Potential standard packages could be an audio/video system in the family room and one audio system in the kitchen. From there, the homeowner could decide to add other rooms. Typically, builders would try to get the homeowner to make all these decisions well before the drywall goes up.

“With these systems, now the discussion centers around which devices the homeowners would like in each room,” Manowitz says.

“We really studied this and found that homeowners are looking for systems that aesthetically go with their new homes, so we removed all the racks of gear and the confusion on where to hang all that equipment on the wall,” he says, adding that the LCD keypads also come in a “paintable” version that blends into the walls.

“Anything that makes life easier during the construction process is a good thing,” says Karen Davis, president of ONteriors, an installer based in San Diego. “We think this will fit in well in first move-up homes and could also be a fit for the first-time home buyer,” she says. “I like the overall approach; I think this kind of product will become a standard appliance the way microwaves have become a standard appliance in the home.”