Former Apple employee develops $999 Unity TV stand/home theater system

Former Apple employee develops $999 Unity TV stand/home theater system

Summary: A former Apple audio engineer has developed Unity, a TV stand with built-in speakers, Blu-ray player, and Internet streaming capabilities,

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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First, an ex-Apple engineer launches a device that revolutionizes the thermostat (a.k.a. the Nest). Now, another former Apple employee has his sights on upending another product category that the Cupertino giant hasn't touched.

Todd Beauchamp, who worked in Apple's audio realm -- helping develop the iPod's white earbuds -- has broken away to develop Unity, a TV stand with a twist. With built-in speakers and Internet streaming capabilities, Unity hopes to offer one-stop shopping for accessories once you purchase your new HDTV.

Beauchamp tells Fortune.com that Unity stems from his disappointment with ever-shrinking sound bars, which he claims offer correspondingly smaller sound. He believes he's corrected that flaw, offering an integrated device complete with full 5.1 surround sound and the ability to stream Netflix and Hulu and play Blu-ray discs (no built-in Wi-Fi, however).

Unity was first shown off at this year's CES, and our sister site CNET came away generally impressed with the audio output.

I wouldn't exactly call Unity's design "elegant" (Beauchap's term), as the subwoofer essentially does double duty, also serving as the connection between the unit's base and its top, which can hold up to a 60-inch set. (Clever may be a more fitting word.) At $999, the price tag also keeps the market for Unity somewhat limited, though it certainly is priced competitively when you consider the cost of its components (stand, speaker system, Internet-enabled Blu-ray player) purchased separately.

Unity is slated to be released sometime in the middle of the year. What do you think of the design? Will you consider it if you're buying a new TV or to replace your current stand and home theater system? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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21 comments
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  • M&K MX-1000

    "I wouldn???t exactly call Unity???s design ???elegant??? ...(Clever may be a more fitting word.)"

    Or "unique." The M&K MX-1000 from years ago was a TV Stand/Subwoofer combo with much the same design. Plans were afoot to make one with speakers built in.
    dougosborne@...
  • Because I always wanted...

    ...to upgrade my furniture the next time video formats change.

    If you're disappointed with the quality and size of audio hardware, then design audio hardware and not furniture.
    Shmeg
  • The '80s called...

    ... they want their entertainment center back.
    rbarron01
    • Can you plug in a turntable and ...

      .. a disco ball?
      dfp@...
  • No thanks.

    The only reason to buy such an all in one device is if the costs are
    significantly lower since other options are readily available.
    Right now if you have a problem with the player, you are screwed since
    there is no slot there to put a replacement.

    A good stand is easily available for under $300.
    A good blu-ray for under $100 now, or you can get
    a gaming machine with it built in. And I would think
    decent speakers can be readily found under $300.

    Fail.
    richard233
    • UNLESS... You're looking for something like this already; like me!

      I'm gonna bookmark this as I'll be looking for a one-set solution for my extension, or as near as I can.

      Currently have Freesat, DVD(SACD/DVD-A), PS3/BD, Multimedia PC, and Popcorn Hour through my Denon Amp and 52" Samsung. That lot has a Philips Pronto and many, many hours of macros/setup to control it all.

      My next set will hopefully be a little less cluttered and have less remote control requirements; especially if its predominantly for 3D TV. So YES this is a solution that looks promising and as I run Ethernet to the current setup (freesat/PCH/media PC) I can't see wifi being any loss at all.

      I was looking for a TV that hosted the 5.1 or had direct pass thru but thats looking tricky (I have 7.1 but it sounds a mess), and just feed the devices direct. This gizmo has presented me with another option.
      pjmckay
  • "Former Apple employee" - that's important!

    Because without mentioning "Apple" it would be just yet another piece of well-engineered solution. One of thousands.
    What's wrong with you people? Are you able to see the things behind the brands or you absolutely need to see the word "Apple" to realize whether the thing is good or not?

    Update: BTW, the word "Apple" is mentioned more times that the inventor's name, even though Apple has absolutely nothing to do with this stand except for the fact that the guy worked there some time in the past. This world is f**king stupid.
    Mezomish
  • too lame...

    i suggest a practical solution for free.
    create a picture frame like speakers you would hand on the wall with wireless connectivity to receiver. something like dlnp.
    it serves both as a good look picture on the wall and at the same time a speaker providing surround sound.
    ug123
  • well, the thing is...

    ...aside from the pretty exorbitant price, who wants a subwoofer that vibrates the delicate bits inside their TV? Because, well, that's what, presumably would happen--even if it was a subtle amount. Over time, that would do, what, exactly, to the TV?
    groobiecat
  • Engineered for engineers. I have a dream....

    A well engineered product that isn't marketable. Too expensive for people who only buy up to small 60" screens. That sub-woofer would cause some jittery pictures too when the bass is rocking, let alone the damage it will do to the internals.
    Bob Forsberg
    • "small 60" screens."

      How rich are YOU that a 60" tv is SMALL?
      to_be_announced
  • how about the height?

    can one adjust the height?
    gundam_0083
  • The new ones keep on coming

    Within a decade, personal robots could become as common in U.S. homes as any other major appliance, and many if not most of these machines will be able to perform innumerable tasks not explicitly imagined by their manufacturers. This opens up a wider world of personal robotics, in which machines are doing anything their owners can program them to do -- without actually being programmers???. Laying some helpful groundwork for this world is, a new study by researchers in Georgia Tech's Centre for Robotics & Intelligent Machines (RIM), who have identified the types of questions a robot can ask during a learning interaction that are most likely to characterize a smooth and productive human-robot relationship. These questions are about certain features of tasks, more so than labels of task components or real-time demonstrations of the task itself, and the researchers identified them not by studying robots, but by studying the everyday (read: non-programmer) people who one day will be their masters.. Now that is what I call the TECH. I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA
    famulla
  • We change daily do we not?

    Within a decade, personal robots could become as common in U.S. homes as any other major appliance, and many if not most of these machines will be able to perform innumerable tasks not explicitly imagined by their manufacturers. This opens up a wider world of personal robotics, in which machines are doing anything their owners can program them to do -- without actually being programmers???. Laying some helpful groundwork for this world is, a new study by researchers in Georgia Tech's Centre for Robotics & Intelligent Machines (RIM), who have identified the types of questions a robot can ask during a learning interaction that are most likely to characterize a smooth and productive human-robot relationship. These questions are about certain features of tasks, more so than labels of task components or real-time demonstrations of the task itself, and the researchers identified them not by studying robots, but by studying the everyday (read: non-programmer) people who one day will be their masters.. Now that is what I call the TECH. I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA
    famulla
  • i dont think i want it

    come on i had a beeter idea in 1971 when i conviced my father to cut up and bran new pilot stereo console and turn it into a componit system .speekers mounted and down angled on the wall,amp tuner and turn table in the wall behind the chouch. give me a brake .
    sarai1313@...
  • Not good

    Ugly! No WiFi, no go.
    ryork272
  • Oh gawd...

    So he developed the notoriously terrible sounding white earbuds (aka "those things you throw away"), and that is supposed to lend credibility to this product?

    And where are the shelves?
    For the other things you have for your TV - you know, your FiOS/cable/sat tuner, your Xbox/Wii, your games/movies (and/or HTPC), your wireless/networking accessories, signal switching devices, etc?

    $1000 for this thing, and while it's not exactly fetching to begin with, you'd need to buy secondary furniture to house that stuff - which inevitably won't match exactly with the look of this (and the look of this thing likely doesn't look anything like your furniture in your house currently - silver spraypaint finish, in a living room? Barf. For $1000, I'd suggest something of a design consideration having been made, in that purchase price.
    geolemon
  • Apple TV stand

    Yeah. Tell them to email me when this is available. I am tired of shopping for stands that do not do the job or I have to put together myself with holes drilled by someone who doesn't care if it actaully works.
    dstuckel@...
  • We used to have these

    We used to have these all in-one-units built into furniture cabinets.
    We called them CONSOLE TVs.
    RevWilliam
  • An ex-Apple engineer launches a device...

    Engineers know about technical stuff, not design. just look at his "console". Also I agreed with Groobiecat:"who wants a subwoofer that vibrates the delicate bits inside their TV? "
    Go back to the drawing table and share ideas with a designer.
    Andraus