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iTunes tagging is now available from nearly every leading car stereo brand, introducing what suppliers hope will be another incentive to purchase HD Radio products.
iTunes tagging lets consumers bookmark favorite songs heard on HD Radio for purchase later on iTunes, although Pioneer is introducing a model that lets you bookmark songs on analog FM stations as well HD Radio stations. (See p. 72.)
iTunes tagging was first offered by Dual and Alpine for HD Radio last year and is now sweeping the high-end audio selections at Eclipse, Jensen, JVC, Kenwood and Pioneer.
The feature could help spark demand for HD Radio, claimed the format's developer iBiquity, as it offers an easy way to download songs heard on the radio.
Suppliers have noted that HD Radio has been slow to catch on because its improved sound quality is not enough to drive demand. (See story p. 10.)
Another problem for HD Radio is that the tuners are usually offered as $99-plus add-on kits for a radio, placing them in competition with the more popular iPod add-on kits. Three suppliers said the HD Radio kit attachment rate is less than 5 percent. This year, however, both iTunes tagging and HD Radio will be built into radios from JVC, Jensen and Dual, starting at an attractive suggested retail of $159 for a Jensen radio. (JVC had not announced the price of its radio at press time.)
Here is listing of many of the iTunes tagging products on display at International CES:
Alpine: The company is adding HD Radio iTunes tagging to three additional head units for a total of five. The feature starts at $199 but requires a separate outboard HD Radio tuner. New models with iTunes tagging include the iDA-X303 and iDA-X305 "mech-less" radios, which lack a CD mechanism but play music from iPods and USB devices. Also with iTunes tagging is the new CDA-105 CD receiver at a suggested-$199.
Dual: The company has been shipping two head units with iTunes tagging. The XHD7720 at a suggested $249 and XHD7714 at $299 come with HD Radio tuners. The XH7720 offers iPod connectivity and is Bluetooth-ready with an optional kit. The XHD7714 offers built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling.
Eclipse: The new AVN726E is a double-DIN A/V navigation unit with optional HD Radio and iTunes tagging capability. It features a 7-inch QVGA TFT, SD card-based navigation and optional Sirius Traffic updates. It controls both iPod music and video via USB cable and has built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling. It is satellite radio ready and will ship in March at a price to be announced.
Jensen: The Audiovox brand is showing its first three CD receivers with iTunes tagging. The Jensen HD5313 is one of the least-expensive CD receivers with built-in HD Radio and iTunes tagging at a suggested $159. It is iPod-compatible with an included cable and satellite radio ready. It also features stereo Bluetooth.
Also with built-in HD Radio and iTunes tagging is the Jensen VM9413 in-dash DVD/monitor with optional navigation. It offers iPod control with an included cable and is both Bluetooth ready and steering-wheel-control ready. The double-DIN model comes with 7-inch flip-out screen with USB and SD card slot at a suggested $549. The VM9423 single-DIN version has similar features with 6.5-inch screen and a built-in center-channel amplifier.
JVC: The company's first CD receiver with iTunes tagging is the KD-HDR50. It has built-in HD Radio and Bluetooth and USB iPod control and is satellite radio ready. Also with built-in HD Radio (but not iTunes tagging) is the KD-HDR20, which features iPod control and Bluetooth and satellite-radio capability. Ship dates and prices were unavailable.
Kenwood: iTunes tagging and HD Radio are an option on the flagship DNX9140 all-in-one A/V navigation receiver, which is also one of the first aftermarket head units with advanced voice control over iPod and USB music. The double-DIN DNX9140 has a 7-inch screen and offers optional MSN Direct real-time traffic. Shipping is expected in April at a tentative suggested $1,699.
Pioneer: The company is the first to offer a new type of iTunes tagging that works with certain analog FM stations as well as HD Radio stations. The feature is offered in the DEH-P7100BT and Premier DEH-P710BT. These also have dual USB jacks to plug in more than one iPod or an iPod and iPhone. Users can therefore "share" bookmarked songs with another user who plugs his iPod into the second USB port. The receivers also offer Bluetooth 2.0 from Parrot with voice control over hands-free calling. Street prices for the units, which ship in April, are $340 and $360, respectively.
Dual USB jacks will also be available on two other Pioneer CD receivers: the DEH-P5100UB and DEH-P510UB, which ship in January at street prices of $210 and $230.
Valor: Valor said it may offer its first HD Radio model in the form of a head unit with built-in HD Radio and iTunes tagging in the second quarter.
Other new HD Radio products at CES include the following:
Azentek: The "instant on" car A/V computer, the Atlas CPC-1200, includes built-in HD Radio tuner at a suggested $2,799. (See Voice story p. 116.)
Clarion: The company plans to show its first outboard HD Radio tuner and its first HD Radio-ready head unit. The THD309 add-on tuner can receive AM/FM/HD Radio and multicast stations at a suggested $99.99. It is compatible with a new Clarion single-DIN DVD VZ309 with 3.5-inch screen at $349. Both are expected to ship in March.
Kenwood: Its first head unit with integrated HD Radio is the KDC-HD942U single-DIN CD-receiver. It is also iPod-capable with USB control and has optional A2DP Bluetooth. It is satellite ready and is expected to ship in late March at a suggested retail of $279.
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