San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
A handful of leading suppliers are refreshing their head unit lineups this fall with products at record low price-per-feature ratios, led by a new Sony unit starting at $79.
As the market begins to gear up for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Oct. 31-Nov. 3, suppliers are debuting new head units that focus on lower priced “expandability” — the ability to add iPods, satellite radio, USB flash drives and SD cards. Some are also pursuing in-dash DVD/monitors.
Pushing the expandability envelope is Sony, which is replacing its GT CD player series with a new line that leads with the CDX-GT110. It has a front-panel auxiliary input to connect to any digital audio player, a detachable face and 45x4 watt power, at $79.95. Sony's GT series started at $99 last year. Next in the lineup is the CDX-GT210, which adds MP3 playback, non-DRM WMAs and 50x4 watt power, at $99.95, and the CDX-310, which further adds satellite radio-ready capability (XM or Sirius), CD changer control, iPod adapter capability with an optional $49 cable and 52x 4 watt power, at $119.95.
Capping the new series is the CDX-GT510, which adds ATRAC 3 and non- DRM AAC playback plus switchable red and green illumination at $139. The first two models shipped last month while the latter two units are expected to ship in early October.
Sony continues its strategy of debuting some new products in the fall, rather than waiting for a winter launch at International CES.
“We want the new products in the market in time for the holiday and also for showing them at SEMA, which is becoming a more important event for the mobile category,” said Brennan Mullin, Sony mobile products GM.
Kenwood is also expected to debut two new lower priced head units with front-panel auxiliary inputs in time for the SEMA show.
Blaupunkt just introduced two new CD receivers including the Memphis MP66, with a built-in 3.2-inch full color TFT display for viewing photos and graphics. Both the MP66 and the new St. Louis MP56 have a USB port to connect to a flash drive and an SD card slot for playback of MP3 files and digital photos. They also have auxiliary inputs and inputs for cellular phones and navigation systems, plus iPod capability, control and recharging. The MP56 has a Variocolor display with 4,096 selectable colors. Suggested retail prices are $499 for the MP66 and $299 for the MP56.
Dual and Clarion are shipping new in-dash DVD monitors, both with iPod video capability.
The Dual model XDVD8182 has a 7-inch touch screen and works with an iPod to display song name, artist and genre, as well as iPod video when the vehicle is not in motion.
Shipping now at a suggested retail of $699, the XDVD8182 also has 5.1-channel preamp outputs, a set of A/V inputs, two dedicated video outputs for optional headrest monitors, and a rear-view camera input.
Clarion just began shipping the MAX675VD double DIN DVD/monitor with video iPod capability that was originally shown at CES. It has a fully motorized 7-inch widescreen with touch screen capability. The unit offers dual zone ability and is satellite radio ready and iPod ready and can play back video from an iPod. It will work with a new companion NAX970HD black box navigation device that has a 30GB hard drive for music storage and maps of the United States and Canada. Estimated street price for each unit is $1,000.