Car HD Radio Slated In April

By Amy Gilroy On Jan 9 2003 - 8:00am

If all goes as planned, digital AM/FM radio will become a market reality in April, when Kenwood is expected to release the first HD Radio tuner.

HD Radio is a new name for iBiquity's In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) technology which transforms analog AM/FM radio signals to digital CD-like quality. It also offers static free reception and can provide some wireless data services.

The market is likely to be off to a slow start in 2003, as only about 100 broadcast stations are expected to switch over to HD Radio by the first quarter, and only Kenwood, so far, will offer product in the first half. But eventually, suppliers say the technology will catch on quickly (See story p. 7).

Kenwood's HD Radio tuner is an outboard unit that will work with any Kenwood radio that is Sirius satellite ready and it will also seamlessly integrate with any Kenwood MASK unit, according to sales and marketing VP Bob Law. The target suggested retail price of the unit is $350.

Kenwood will also offer six 2003 head units, which are HD Radio compatible; three in the Excelon line, and three in the standard Kenwood line. Among them is a new Excelon KVT-915DVD AM/FM/DVD with 7 inch monitor, DVD Audio, Dolby Pro Logic II and Sirius capability. (See story, lower left).

Alpine will show a prototype HD Radio tuner at CES but does not expect to deliver a commercial product until late in 2003 or 2004.

JVC is showing a prototype HD Radio at CES with commercial product planned for 2004.

Sanyo, which just recently licensed HD Radio technology, is also looking to produce a car audio unit in 2004. Visteon said it expects to begin offering OEM HD Radios in summer or fall of 2003 and Delphi plans to deliver OEM HD Radios within a year.

Suppliers have not yet announced the release of a universal HD Radio adaptor which will work with any existing radio.

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