By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
CD receivers in 2007 continue to become "expansion modules" designed to interface with as many types of portable A/V devices as possible.
This year suppliers are packing even more expansion capabilities in their units, with Bluetooth audio streaming and wider use of USB. Even low-end models now offer iPod connectivity and Bluetooth. Models with front-panel auxiliary inputs for connection to any digital audio device start at approximately $80 this year.
In general, CD receivers are being pushed down the pricing scale as DVD receivers take over the middle and high end of the market. Many 2007 models are priced below $200.
Sony's top-of-the-line CD receiver debuting at CES carries a suggested retail price of $249.
The company is adding four new head units to the three low-cost GT series it introduced in November. Two of the new models offer front panel USB jacks. The most affordable of these is a slot-loading CDX-GT410U with front-panel USB and aux in, satellite radio capability, MP3/WMA/ATRAC3plus/AAC playback, iPod capability and remote. It ships this month at a suggested $149.
The step-up CDX-GT610UI is a slot-loaded CD receiver that has a resident cable for a direct iPod connection and full iPod control without an adapter. In addition to the front-panel USB jack it is also satellite radio ready, and ships this month at a suggested $179.
This is joined by the model CDX-GT81UW with front-panel USB, aux in, motorized foldout detachable face, satellite radio capability and full-motion FL display at $249.
Also new is the CDX-GT710 with front-panel aux in and a motorized detachable faceplate. It is iPod ready with a $49 adapter and plays back ATRAC 3, AAC, MP3 and WMA files. It ships this month at $199.
Dual is adding mono Bluetooth this year to its CD receivers for the first time with a $49 optional module. CD receivers starting at $120 are compatible with the module and also offer iPod capability.
Among Jensen's new CD receivers is the company's most featured model, the MP6612i. It works with an under-the-dash adapter to provide USB, and full-speed iPod connectivity (with $20 cable). The unit has built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and is satellite ready. It also has an SD card slot, MP3/WMA and a motorized detachable faceplate. It ships March 15, at a suggested $199.
Also new is the MP6312i (suggested $129), which is satellite ready, iPod ready (with $20 cable), MP3/WMA and RDS. All of the company's radios ship with a media cable that has an auxiliary input.
JVC's new CD receivers include the KD-BT1 with USB and Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free calling, iPod capability (with adapter) and satellite radio capability. Shipping is expected in March at $429.
CD receivers from Kenwood begin this year at a low of $79 for the KDC-135 that shipped in November with front-panel auxiliary input and a line output that can be switched to a subwoofer output with low pass filters. Last year the line started at $99.
The company is adding USB capability for the first time this year and has dropped Bluetooth capability (for hands-free calling only) down to $119 in its CD receiver line, compared to $199 last year. All CD changer controller models offer full-speed iPod compatibility, satellite radio, HD Radio and Bluetooth when used with adapters.
Among the key models this year is an Excelon KDC-X491, at $179, with USB input on the front panel, 4-volt output and two-year warranty in addition to the above features.
Panasonic is supporting XM's new Mini-Tuner throughout its 2007 head-unit lineup. The units will require an adapter for the tuner, which will be available this spring.
The company is also showing an upgraded iPod interface on its new head units, which includes a volume control knob that controls iPod functions. When users push on the knob, it becomes a scroll wheel. The feature is available on all radios from $139 up.
Panasonic's 2007 line starts at $99.95 for a CQ-C1305U with front-panel aux in, MP3/WMA and two-band equalizer.
Pioneer is showing 10 CD receivers in January under the Pioneer and Premier lines. At the entry level is the DEH-1900MP with front-panel aux-in jack at a suggested retail of $100.
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