By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
High-performance table radios are connecting to more music sources and adding new features, as new models from Eton and start-up Chestnut Hill Sound indicate.
Eton, for example, is launching a new mono table radio that is the company's first U.S.-market iPod-docking model and the industry's first model to offer both an iPod dock and satellite-ready capability. It is also Sirius-ready.
For its part, Newton, Mass.-based start-up Chestnut Hill Sound unveiled its first product, which could be the industry's first iPod-docking table radio with HD-Radio reception.
Chestnut's product, called George, is a single-chassis stereo radio/alarm that differs from competing models in part because it makes room for optional consumer-installed source modules. The first module will be an HD-Radio module due in the second half at an unannounced price. Additional modules are planned, but Chestnut declined to say if they would be satellite radio or Internet radio modules.
Another differentiating feature is the detachable control panel, which doubles as a handheld two-way RF LCD remote using proprietary wide-bandwidth RF technology. The remote displays a docked iPod's menu and song metadata, controls all iPod functions and features "jump buttons" to quickly navigate the iPod's database. The remote will presumably display HD-Radio metadata when the HD-Radio module is available and FM-RDS text when RDS is added in the future as an upgrade.
Another remote feature is called "bandless" tuning, which lets consumers program the control panel/remote to display preset AM/FM stations by genre rather than by band.
George's remote can be placed in an optional charging stand, enabling consumers to place the radio in a spot for optimum stereo imaging while placing the remote on a bedroom nightstand, for instance. Battery life is four to six hours between charges.
Thanks to its preamp output jack, the table radio also serves as a remote-controlled jukebox for a connected A/V system.
George is available at a suggested $549, or $599 with remote charging stand. It will be available later this year at select retail stores. Pricing on the HD-Radio module was unavailable.
To enhance audio performance, George was voiced by audio professionals, and it features a bi-amplified 2.1 speaker system consisting of two coaxial speakers and a down-firing 4-inch woofer said to be optimized for low-frequency reproduction "without excessive EQ or resonant ducts," the company said. A rear-panel woofer control optimizes bass response for the each room's acoustic variables, and a multiband EQ is accessible through the remote control.
George's other features include rear-panel USB port for hardware and software upgrades and a line-in jack for CD players and MP3 players.
All iPod data is automatically synced to the remote when an iPod is docked. If a consumer docks the same iPod a second time without having added new songs, George will use the original data stored in its database without re-syncing. If the user inserts a different iPod, George will replace the previous iPod database with the new one.
A white finish is standard, but optional cherry, mahogany and maple wood panels can be installed with a screwdriver.
Chestnut's advisory board includes Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell; ClearChannel Communications senior VP Ed Krampf; and Sam Tramiel, VP of Commodore International and president/CEO of Atari from 1984 to 1996.
Chestnut Hill's executives include CEO Steve Krampf, formerly with such companies as Teac, Ampex and Lexicon.
For consumers interested in more affordable table radios, Eton plans the ES101, due in the second quarter at a targeted suggested retail of $200-$250, including iPod dock/charging stand. The 101 also features digital input and software to control an outboard palm-size SiriusConnect Home antenna/tuner combination retailing for a suggested $49. The company already offers XM-ready radios.
It features feature text readout of FM RDS, iPod, and Sirius metadata. It also comes with credit-card remote, 3.5 mm line input and output and a 3-inch full-range speaker driven by a 3-watt amp.
Later this year, Eton plans a Porsche Design AM/FM/SW table radio with iPod dock and XM-ready capability.
Eton already offers an XM-ready AC/DC AF/FM/SW radio, the E1XM, at a suggested $500.
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