HD Radio Price War Launches At SEMA

By Amy Gilroy On Nov 19 2007 - 8:00am

Dual and Jensen helped spark a price battle for the low end of the HD Radio market at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show earlier this month, as both showed CD receivers with built-in HD Radio at record low street prices of $119 and $139, respectively.

Although HD Radio is still in its infancy and consumers are just becoming aware of the format, Tom Malone, president of Audiovox Electronics, which sells the Jensen brand, said, "It's a possible market opportunity. We believe it's a long term build — it's not going to happen overnight, but there's more and more radio advertising and more stations broadcasting in HD Radio."

Jensen's new HD-Radio leader, unveiled at SEMA, is the HD5212 with multicasting, USB, SD card slot, iPod control cable, satellite radio capability and remote. It is expected to ship in December. A version for Wal-Mart called the HD 5112 with similar features but different cosmetics is now available at an estimated street price of $129.

Dual just began shipping its leader HD-Radio model, the HD6420 CD receiver with multicasting and a front-panel auxiliary-input jack at $119. It is joined by the step-up model XHD6425 that allows optional Bluetooth for hands-free calling when used with an adapter. It also offers a built-in, full-speed USB connection, front-panel auxiliary input and two preamp outputs for additional amplifiers at a street price of $149.

JVC, which first ignited the market for low-cost HD Radio, said it will offer a new version of its KD-HDR1 in the future. The KD-HDR1 was the first CD receiver with built in HD Radio to fall below $200.

Navigation was also a hot topic at SEMA, where several new personal navigation devices (PNDs) were unveiled.

In the in-dash A/V-navigation (AVN) segment, Kenwood told TWICE it will show at International CES a low-cost AVN DVD/monitor at $1,000, or $400 below its current street price. Shipping in March, the new CNX-5120 has a built-in Garmin user interface. It is a double-DIN unit with 6.1-inch fixed touchscreen and front-panel auxiliary-input jack. It has Bluetooth and USB capability and iPod control (requiring only the cable that ships with the iPod). It will be joined by a higher-end Excelon AVN unit to be announced at CES. Kenwood consumer electronics senior VP Keith Lehmann said the company's car stereo sales grew by 20 percent this year.

HTK, an OEM car audio manufacturer, announced it will enter the aftermarket with a double-DIN in-dash AVN DVD player with a 6.5-inch screen and Bluetooth for delivery in the second quarter 2008 at a price to be announced. HTK will also offer aftermarket headrest monitor/DVD players, including models for vehicles with active headrests.

Also at SEMA, Magellan unveiled its lowest-priced PND to date, the RoadMate 1200 at a suggested retail of $280. It has a pocket-sized design, 3.5-inch screen and pre-loaded maps of the United States. It ships this month.

Panasonic also launched its first PND, and Raytel announced the first PND to "read aloud" text messages from a Bluetooth cellular phone (see TWICE, Nov. 5, p. 42).

Other new products at SEMA were as follows:

Valor introduced its first CD receiver with a built-in 3-inch LCD screen. At a suggested retail of $299, the new CD receiver offers Bluetooth and will ship in December. Valor, which specializes in in-dash DVD/monitors, said its business is up 40 percent over last year.

Magnadyne showed its first 1-mile range security/remote start system. The 900MHz system will ship in January with one two-way and one one-way transmitter at suggested price of $399.

Sony debuted several new speakers at SEMA, including the XS-GTX1620 6.5-inch, two-way component models, rated at 60 watts RMS, and the XS-GTX6930 three-way, 6x9 models at 100 watts RMS, in addition to the XS-GTX1640 6.5-inch units rated at 75 watts RMS. They will ship in January at $120 for the latter two models and $150 for the GTX 1620.

Sony also introduced three amplifiers at prices from $150 to $280 and a new pentagonal-shaped, 12-inch subwoofer called the L120P5A to ship in January at approximately $80.

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