By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Many innovative and high tech MP3 and DVD aftermarket products are hitting store shelves now, creating some excitement during the dog days of summer.
In MP3, Blaupunkt is launching the first CD receiver with MP3 to also play Windows Media Audio (WMA) files, a compression format similar to MP3 that uses half the file space. And Panasonic is offering its first MP3 head unit this September. In navigation, Kenwood and Pioneer recently began shipping their first DVD navigation units (shown in January at CES) while Alpine just upgraded its original NVE-N851A.
Both the Blaupunkt and Panasonic MP3 CD receivers are mid-year introductions designed to capitalize on the burgeoning demand for MP3 playback in the car.
Blaupunkt's new San Jose MP41 is a CD receiver that allows playback of up to 10 hours of MP3 music or almost 20 hours of WMA. The San Jose MP41 is compatible with CD-R and CD-RW. Features include flip-down detachable faceplate, titanium silver finish, second auxiliary input for DVD, MD or VCR, built-in 4 by 50 watt amplifier, ID3tag information for display readouts and remote control. Shipping in September, the San Jose will have a suggested retail price of $399.
Panasonic said it "decided to launch one of its 2002 units early," to take a more aggressive stance on MP3, according to national marketing manager Rob Lopez. The new AM/FM/CD is the company's first MP3 head unit and is CD-R and CD-RW compatible. Called the model CQ-DP171U, it has a silver finish, detachable faceplate, wireless remote control and CD changer option. The model CQ-DP171U is expected to ship in September at a suggested retail price of $299.
According to Lopez, "We see a strong demand for MP3 in portable, and future home DVD players will offer MP3; and ultimately, we feel the consumer will want to play MP3 in the car. So we think having a unified message supporting MP3 across all the categories gives us a strong position in the market."
JVC also recently began shipping its top-of-the-line Digifine 2.1 AM/FM/CD with both built-in MP3 decoder and an auxiliary input for a portable MP3 player. The model KDSH99 is compatible with CD-R and CD-RW and has a motorized aluminum faceplate, 4 by 50 watt amplifier, CD changer controls and DVD controls, plus five-band built-in equalizer. Suggested retail price is $429.95.
Among this summer's new DVD navigation units are one of the first to offer real-time traffic updates, similar to the Clarion AutoPC.
Pioneer's new AVIC-9DVD offers a real-time traffic option when used with a Cue receiver. Users can check traffic on their intended route when they enter the car, and receive automatic updates as they drive. The system will also suggest an alternate route around traffic. The AVIC-9DVD is also one of the few DVD navigation systems to double as a DVD Video system. It uses both voice and map prompts and has a special map view that shows the road from the perspective of the driver looking out his windshield, according to the company. It also comes with a 3D hybrid sensor that calculates for street elevation as well as acceleration and direction. This results in improved accuracy. The system carries a suggested retail price of $2,000. The Cue module is $340 and includes a one-year subscription to Cue's traffic service. Extended service is an additional $60 per year.
Kenwood's first DVD navigation unit is the KNA-DV2100, which uses both voice and visual map prompts. The system updates positioning every second, allows several different map views, and gives voice directions in eight languages. The DV2100 is a controller that can be mounted anywhere and is designed for use with the Excelon KVT-910 in-dash DVD receiver, the Excelon P907 in-dash retractable monitor/CD player or other Kenwood receivers and monitors. The DV2100 has 32MB of memory and has a built-in RS-422 and CompactFlash slot. It begins shipping this month at a suggested retail price of $2,500.
Also new from Alpine is an upgraded DVD navigation system called the NVE-N852A with expanded U.S. coverage and new points of interest (POI). It also comes with remote control and has a new ergonomic design, Alpine said. The system covers more than 300 cities and has a database of more than six million POI including map icons to indicate gas stations. Suggested retail price for the NVE-N852A is $2,000.
In DVD Audio, Alpine debuted its first DVD changer and Eclipse began shipping a standalone DVD player.
Alpine's DVD/CD changer, model DHA-S680 also plays CD-R discs and CD-RW discs. The six-disc unit can be used as an Ai-NET system component or as a standalone DVD/CD changer for rear seat video and audio. It has Dolby Digital decoding, is DTS compatible and has an optical digital output for connecting to digital processors; a video output and two-channel mix-down pre-outs. Suggested retail price of the DHA-S680 is $1,200.
Eclipse's DVD model DV3101 can play with any head unit. It has a remote eye for installation anywhere in the car and offers both RCA and digital outputs. Suggested retail price for the DV3101 is $799. Eclipse also recently began shipping the AV5101 in-dash DIN 5.8-inch motorized screen. The AV5101 is compatible with the Eclipse Navigation system and is voice-activated and -controlled. It is an 8-volt unit that can interface with up to four TVs in the car. Replacing the 7002, the AV5101 is shipping now at a suggested retail price of $1,299. Also new from Eclipse is a 10.4-inch universal overhead screen with IR, and outputs for additional monitors. It ships this month with two wireless RF headphones at a suggested retail price of $1,599.
Other new products shipping this summer or fall are from Jensen and Audiovox.
Jensen is introducing a new DIN and combination AM/FM/CD and cassette player for GM and Chrysler vehicles. Called the CM7015K, it has built-in 4 by 60 watt amplifier, triple pre-amp outputs for front, rear and subwoofer, auxiliary input for MP3, and wireless remote control. The CM7015K is expected to ship in August at a suggested retail price of $329.95.
Audiovox's new models, introduced in January but shipping this summer, include the Prestige P-965 CD receiver with motorized, detachable faceplate, CD controller and auxiliary input. It has 40 watt by 4 built-in power, four channel plus mono subwoofer output, rotary volume control and remote control. The suggested retail price is $300.
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