By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
jWIN Electronics is expanding its assortment of step-up electronics and accessories under the iLuv brand, which focuses exclusively on products and accessories that connect to personal entertainment devices.
Targeted portable devices include iPods, other-brand MP3 players, portable media players (PMPs), satellite radio tuners and music-playing cellphones.
"iLuv will be a significant portion of jWIN's 2007 business and the most significant growth driver for the company," said Mark Viken, iLuv's sales and marketing senior VP. jWIN, with annual global sales of more than $100 million after 9.5 years in business, is positioned as a value brand that mainly offers portable and home audio, accessories and a small selection of TVs, the former Sony executive said.
iLuv's debut products, which shipped in April and May, were iPod accessories and iPod-docking audio and video gear, including an iPod speaker system, two iPod-docking tabletop stereo systems, a clock radio and a tablet-style portable DVD player that displays videos from docked video iPods. Accessories included a protective iPod case with built-in rechargeable battery to double the battery life of the 30GB video iPod.
At International CES, the company will expand its iPod-oriented assortment, launch its first Bluetooth stereo headsets and add products and accessories for use with a specific MP3 player brand that iLuv declined to disclose. "We're looking at other platforms, perhaps satellite radio," Viken added.
Other key product introductions at CES will be the industry's first iPod-docking home audio products with included two-way Bluetooth technology, Viken said. An iLuv clock radio and one-piece tabletop AM/FM/CD stereo system will transmit music to Bluetooth headphones or to any other Bluetooth-equipped device, Viken said. The iLuv products in turn will reproduce music that they receive wirelessly from Bluetooth-equipped portables such as music-playing cellphones and MP3 players equipped to a Bluetooth dongle, also available from iLuv.
iLuv uses the term BluePin to describe its patented Bluetooth implementation, which takes shape as a module that's smaller than a 9-volt battery. Consumers plug the module into selected iLuv products via the module's pin connectors. The first two iLuv products to use the technology will ship with the module included. The module will also be available separately for future BluePin-ready products. The module's pricing and ship date weren't available. One of iLuv's first two BluePin products is the $199-suggested i199, a one-piece iPod-docking tabletop stereo system with AM/FM tuner, MP3-CD player, video output for display iPod videos on a connected TV, dual-alarm digital clock, iPod Shuffle support, and line-level input for use with other-brand MP3 players and first- and second-generation iPods. It ships in January.
The second BluePin product is the iPod-docking i277 clock radio, which also features video output. It will be at CES. Other details were unavailable.
The brand's first two Bluetooth stereo headsets, due in December, ship with Bluetooth dongle that attaches to MP3 players and other music sources that lack Bluetooth. iLuv believes one of the models, the i903 at a suggested $129, will be the industry's first Bluetooth-equipped noise-canceling headphone. It features built-in microphone for use as a cellular headset, and it can be wired to an audio device's 3.5mm output via an included mini-USB-to-3.5mm adapter cable. It delivers up to eight hours of listening time, nine hours of cellphone talktime or 300 hours of standby time.
The other headphone is the i202 ear clip model, due this month at a suggested $109. Listening time is 14 hours; talktime is 13 hours, and standby time is 200 hours. It also features built-in microphone.
Versions of these two headsets without Bluetooth dongle will be displayed at CES, where they will be ready to ship. Pricing was unavailable.
Also at the show, iLuv will show its first six home audio docking/recharging systems dedicated for use with select non-iPod MP3 players. The models will feature BluePin ports. Other details were unavailable.
iLuv accessories for that brand of MP3 players will also appear at the show and will include FM transmitters, cables and cases.
iLuv products have already appeared in Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples and other national accounts, and they're also sold through distributors.
jWIN does its own R&D and designs its own products down to the IC level, Viken said. It also does customer service and warranty service in-house. Some jWIN products are produced in a joint-venture factory in mainland China, and production of other products is contracted out.
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