By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
While aftermarket navigation is expected to grow by more than 50 percent this year, most of the increase will come from handheld or portable devices, rather than in-dash head units, said suppliers. Some are predicting only single-digit increases for in-dash navigation, while other say the segment is ripe for more significant growth.
Alpine said it expects a 5 percent to 8 percent increase this year for in-dash navigation, while Audiovox anticipates higher industry growth.
The debate has not stopped a large outcrop of new in-dash systems this year, each with a new technological or design edge, which suppliers hope will help lift sales. Eclipse and Audiovox are among those trying to push the envelope in navigation with the former showing the fastest navigation unit on the market and the latter offering a new voice-only solution.
Eclipse will ship this month the AVN2454, a double-DIN unit that also serves as a DVD/MP3 player with CD-R/RW capability. It uses a 64-bit RISC processor specifically designed for navigation, allowing it to plot three routes in 5 seconds and to reroute in 2.5 seconds.
The 6.5-inch touch screen allows on-screen map scrolling rather than requiring the screen refresh with a different map view.
Other features include voice cues, 48-state map and DSP audio processor. Estimated retail is $2,299. Eclipse said the unit will encourage "pretty significant growth" because it installs as a typical head unit without requiring an extra black box.
Audiovox's new NAV2000 is a voice-only guidance system whose user interface is a visor-mounted microphone. Users spell their destination or point of interest, such as "nearest gas station," and the unit issues voice directions. The NAV2000 has a preview function to check the route before leaving and a memory function for recalling routes. The unit ships with CDs for the entire United States.
The NAV2000 plugs into a cigarette lighter and an optional installation kit is available. It is expected to ship in April at a suggested retail of $900. Audiovox also recently released its first DVD-based navigation system, the NPD5500, at $1,499, without screen.
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