By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Mobile video growth may have slowed to a trickle last year, but suppliers say double-digit increases are in store for 2003.
According to NPDTechworld, Port Washington, N.Y., mobile video finished 2002 up 2.5 percent in dollars, with December seeing a decline of 11 percent. DVD players, however, were a whopping 150 percent ahead for the year in dollars and individual suppliers reported sales increases of as much as 30 percent.
Suppliers say the category will be strong this year, not only because an in-dash screen is in hot demand by core autosound enthusiasts but because rear-seat entertainment is winning over both older and younger consumers.
"We see explosive growth in mobile video because it's front-seat and rear-seat, "said Ted Cardenas, Pioneer senior assistant brand manager. "The front-seat [entertainment system] is the hot new product our traditional customer is after. The growth will be explosive because [the rear seat] is for the 35- to 45-year-old parent and also the child who is 3 to 15 years old."
Also contributing to the market are growing awareness and falling prices, said Audiovox Electronics president/CEO Pat Lavelle.
This year, suppliers are beefing up products with more overhead DVD, DVD-Audio and Pro Logic II. In addition, suppliers are offering new head-rest monitor solutions and greater zone flexibility.
New overhead screens with built-in DVD are being offered by Audiovox and Rosen, with both companies predicting very strong sales in this segment. Rosen said it will deliver three new models under its brand by June and two new under the lower priced Necvox brand by the beginning of the second quarter. The units include 6.8-inch to 10.4-inch screens at prices starting at $1,200.
"DVD overheads for us are the fastest growing overhead systems we have," Lavelle said. But, he noted, "We have a patent on DVD overheads and we are going to protect our intellectual property. Any DVD overhead falls under our patent."
Rosen president/CEO Tom Clements said he had no knowledge of any patent infringement issues and claimed, "Rosen has had an overhead all-in-one DVD on the market for over a year and versions have been sold at the OEM level. We're operating happily with this type of concept."
In other trends, DVD-Audio is finally gaining some headway in mobile video (see TWICE, Jan. 9, p. 116) with Kenwood, Eclipse and Pioneer showing new models. In addition, DVD-Audio may filter into traditional audio systems with Panasonic claiming it will offer more DVD-Audio head units in 2004. At International CES, Delphi showed a concept Delphi-Polk car audio system with DVD-Audio.
Suppliers are also attempting to increase flexibility in their video systems. Alpine is showing the first three-zone product that allows, for example, mom and dad to listen to music while the 3-year-old in the back watches cartoons and the 12-year-old plays a video game. Individual screens are, therefore, increasingly important and suppliers are taking measures to simplify installation.
Pioneer will offer a screen with an arm that attaches to a headrest to avoid a custom installation, while Audiovox is planning to deliver a full line of monitors pre-installed in headrests so users just swap out the old headrest.
Alpine will also ship what it claims to be the first WVGA screen for a crisper display. Its new Mobile Multimedia Station IVA-D900 has a 7-inch screen with 1.2 million pixels vs. the standard 320,000 pixels, and a resolution 340 percent higher than competitors, according to the company. The in-dash DVD receiver is also XM Radio-ready and rear-camera-ready with automatic switching. It has three-zone operation and MP3 capability and is expected to ship in March at a suggested retail price of $2,300.
Also new from Alpine is an in-dash motorized 6.5-inch screen, the CVA-1004. It has a built-in AM/FM receiver and is XM-ready at $800. Alpine will also ship in April an expansion box that allows for three A/V inputs (such as DVD player, TV tuner and video game system) and two A/V outputs at $300.
Pioneer will ship this year, several touch-screen monitors including a rear-seat 6.5-inch widescreen with an arm that attaches to a headrest. Called the AVD-W6200, it should be available in spring at a price to be announced.
Sony is bringing the home-theater-in-a-box concept to car audio with the DVD Dream system. It bundles a single DVD player with an XVM-R70 7-inch overhead monitor and wireless headphones in a single box. It comes with a mounting bezel and all cables and brackets with a suggested retail of approximately $1,000.
Among the new DVD-Audio models is the Eclipse AV8533. It is a DVD receiver with a touch-panel, 7-inch motorized screen, DVD-Audio, 5.1 DTS, ProLogic II, MP3 and a digital preamp with time alignment. It also has a harmonizer that restores musicality to compressed music.
Eclipse is also planning the AV 3423 a touch-panel DVD with 7-inch screen, DVD-Audio and 50 by 4 built-in power.
Both Pioneer and Kenwood announced new in-dash DVD-Audio-equipped receivers with touch screens, TV tuners, and ProLogic II. The Pioneer AVH-P7500 is expected to ship in June at a price to be announced and the Kenwood Excelon KVT-915 DVD with HD Radio and MP3 will ship in April at a suggested retail price of $2,900.
Other new mobile video products introduced at CES last month included several in-dash DVD receivers.
JVC introduced its first in-dash DVD receiver, the KD-DV5000, with dual-zone capability and 50 watt by 4 power. It also has MP3, 1,728 color 3D display and optical outputs for a 5.1 processor. Shipping is expected in April at $799.95.
From Clarion comes a ProAudio VRX-935 with 7-inch motorized, touch-panel screen. An update to the 925 series, the 935 has an improved dealer margin of 40 points, said Clarion, and an updated screen saver with eight-color selection. The screen offers 16:9 and 4:3 selection and 1,440 by 244 resolution. The unit comes with MP3 at a suggested price of $2,499. Clarion also showed rear-vision camera kits at a lower price of $499, including all cables.
Pioneer also showed a DVD receiver called the AVH-6500DVD, which has a 6.5-inch touch screen, MP3, MOSFET 50-watt amplifier and dual-zone capability with optical inputs and outputs for a 5.1 processor. It is expected to ship in April at a price to be announced.
Panasonic's new units include two in-dash DVD receivers with 7-inch motorized screen and TV tuner, Sirius Satellite Radio-ready tuning and MP3. Both models also allow users to download up to five images for screen savers via a DVD movie or digital camera. Both units have 45 watt by 4 built-in power and the CQ-VAD9300 adds a 35-watt center channel amp, Dolby Digital and DTS surround. Suggested retail prices are $2,199.99 for the CQ-VAD7300U and $2,499.99 for the CQ-VAD9300, with shipping planned for March.
Sony plans to ship in July a single-disc DVD with MP3, front and rear A/V output, and optical digital outputs. Called the DVX-11A, it will retail for approximately $600. In May, the company also plans a 6.5-inch flush-mount headrest monitor with IR headphone transmitter, called the XVM-H65, at a suggested retail price of approximately $500.
Also in new monitors, JVC showed a universal flip-down overhead 9-inch monitor, model KV-MR9000, and a 6.5-inch widescreen head-rest monitor, the KV-MH6500, at respective suggested retails of $999.95 and $599.95.
Accele debuted an 8-inch flip-down overhead monitor with 1.5-inch profile. The model LCDFD8WGL comes with stereo IR transmitter, an IR for a remote, three A/V in and one A/V out switching, and dual three-way dome lights. The suggested retail is $940.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.