Delphi, Eclipse, Sanyo Get Aggressive

By Amy Gilroy On Jan 20 2003 - 8:00am

Several existing players in the car audio arena are planning to aggressively step up their market presence. The companies, including Delphi, Sanyo and Eclipse, all showed some of the most advanced products in car audio to be seen at International CES this month.

After launching the leading XM product to date, Delphi is planning other aftermarket products including a hands-free car communications center for shipping in May, and a navigation system called SkyNav, which will share the same basic design as the XM SkyFi system. Also expected is a cartridge-based HDD system slated for June or July shipping.

Delphi's OEM division showed at CES a prototype broadband radio that can operate over 3G and 4G cellular networks as well as other broadband networks. It allows users to access 4,500 Internet radio stations, said a Delphi spokesman. It also lets users stream MP3 files from their computer and stream video from Internet TV stations to rear-seat video systems.

Delphi also showed a prototype OEM DVD-Audio system developed in conjunction with Polk Audio, and two Bluetooth-enabled car radios that allow voice control of cellular phone calls through the unit. It also showed a production-ready HD radio. One of the Bluetooth systems is expected to be offered in a Saab 9-3 in the United States by mid-year.

Delphi general director of Mobilemulti Media Dr. Robert Schumacher said, "I look at the aftermarket as a way to help us get products out faster. My goal is to get the OE side on a 12-month cycle."

As part of its effort to re-establish itself as a leading brand among 12-volt and A/V specialists, Eclipse announced an aggressive product offering featuring DVD-Audio, the industry's first hard-drive recorder, the first head unit with built-in digital pre-amp and new lower price points.

In addition, Eclipse appointed industry pioneer Rich Coe to the position of senior engineer and Matt Overpeck as eastern regional sales manager. This follows last year's return of industry veteran Ray Windsor as sales and marketing VP.

Among the new products unveiled at CES was a top-of-the-line CD8053 CD tuner with a digital pre-amp. The unit is one of the first to offer a 24-bit audio D/A converter and 16-volt balanced line output with 55 ohm impedance, said the company. It also has a "harmonizer" to restore dynamic range to compressed music such as MP3. Suggested retail is $549.

Eclipse is also showing the industry's first outboard hard-drive recorder that can record from any source including radio, satellite radio and a CD changer. The HD1213 is expected to ship in February at a suggested retail price of $499.

The company also showed an aggressively featured DVD head unit with motorized 7-inch screen, DVD Audio, 5.1 DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II and all-digital processing, and it dropped the price of its leader model CD player to a competitive $199.

Sanyo said it is preparing an aggressive push into autosound. The company showed a full line of products at very competitive price points, including an MP3-ready head unit at $149 and a basic head unit with CD-R and CD-RW capability, 40 watt x 4 power and two pairs of RCA line-level outputs and front auxiliary at $119. The company also expects to offer a 16GB HDD head unit that can record off the radio or CD player late in 2003 at about $700.

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