By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Audiovox announced two key car products at International CES, including a PlayStation2 computer/game console combined into a car video screen.
The company also partnered with Qualcomm's MediaFLO to pipe approximately 20 channels of live video into the car starting in October. Audiovox will sell an add-on tuner box, priced at less than $500, that works with existing car video screens to provide the service.
FLO TV is already available on many cellphones and should provide many of the same channels and programs including a live feed of "The Today Show," FOX News, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and CBS, said MediaFLO president Gina Lombardi.
As for the new PlayStation2, it will be incorporated into a 10.2-inch flip-down Audiovox monitor due to ship in about six months. The price is expected to run about $200 more than most 10-inch overhead monitor/DVD players.
It will ship with wireless controllers and headphones and a wireless remote.
The unit will be joined by two stand-alone PlayStation car models without monitors that either drop down from the car ceiling or affix to the headrest. These work with most car video systems (both aftermarket and OEM).
"We want to step out in front" in a market where many companies are pulling back on innovation during these "challenging times," said Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone. The company also recently became the main distributor for Sirius as well as continuing its role as distributor for XM in satellite radio.
Audiovox's FLO TV receiver will be offered first through expediters that sell to car dealerships and then to consumer electronics retailers, possibly as early as two months later, said Malone.
Future products may include FLO TV built-in to front-seat video, and overhead and headrest monitors. Service fees for FLO TV in the car have not been finalized but are expected to run close to $15/month.
The service is available in 65 markets, covering nearly all key cities, with the exception of Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Miami and San Francisco. These latter should be added within weeks after the digital TV conversion, planned for Feb. 17 (see DTV conversion story p. 1).
Audiovox is also debuting voice-activated car radios for late summer/early fall under Jensen and Advent that use voice to control iPod functions and hands-free calling. Also new are the company's slimmest Small Wonder camcorders under the RCA brand. They include video-management software that is built directly into the units, and so they require no CD-ROMs for use with a PC.
In home audio, Audiovox unveiled its first two tabletop AM/FM/Internet radios, both with built-in Wi-Fi, and two tabletop iPod-docking AM/FM radios, one with HD Radio and iTunes tagging. All four single-chassis models bear the Acoustics Research brand.
The iPod-docking AM/FM radios, due in the first quarter, are the $249-suggested ART 1 and $199-suggested ART 7. Both 30-watt models are the brand's first iPod-docking radios with Works With iPhone certification. The ART 7 is also the brand's first HD Radio with iTunes tagging.
The two AM/FM/Internet radios that are equipped with Wi-Fi, dubbed Infinite Radios, include the $129-suggested ARIR200, first shown last year and now due in mid-February. The other Internet radio is the $199-suggested ARIR600i, which adds iPod dock and integrated 2.1 speaker system. It's due in mid-May.
Both Internet radios feature analog AM/FM tuner, USB port, 512MB memory to record up to 10 hours of Internet or AM/FM radio, access to Audiovox's 12,000-station Internet Radio Personal Portal and access to Slacker's Personal Radio Music Service. Slacker features millions of tracks that users can assemble into up to 100 genre stations and more than 10,000 artist stations. Users also create their own music libraries using Slacker content. Both models also come with prepaid WeatherBug subscription, which delivers audible one- and three-day forecasts and continuous emergency weather alerts via text-to-speech conversion in a choice of four synthesized voices. — Joseph Palenchar contributed to this story.
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