By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Monarch Computer is selling a small, slim-line under-the-seat computer for the car with a built-in DVD player and CD burner.
The computer, called the Monarch Traveler, can serve as a computer game player/DVD/MP3 unit. Navigation software and a GPS antenna can also be added, said the company.
The Monarch Traveler plugs into a cigarette lighter, is Windows-based, and has a 1GB processor that can connect to up to two video screens, such as headrest screens. Because it has a relatively low list price of $589, Monarch says the unit can compete with car video entertainment systems and double as a car computer.
The company also sells a separate 15-inch flat-panel LCD monitor that plugs into a cigarette lighter and retails for $254.
The computer has two USB ports in the front for a keyboard or mouse and it also has a FireWire connection in the front for a digital camera, said the company.
Monarch Computer, which calls itself "a small Dell," sells only directly. However, retailers can receive volume discounts.
"Car stereo places are doing a lot of installations for people buying DVDs and VCRs for the car, for the kids. Our product takes the place of not only a DVD or VCR but also of an XBox or Playstation because it's a computer with a DVD player," said Monarch director of marketing Trey Harris.
The Monarch Traveler has a 40GB hard drive with 256MB of DDR RAM. It measures 11.5-by-2.5 by-10.3 inches and weighs seven pounds. It comes with a 10/1000 Network Card and is broadband-ready. Users can connect to the Internet when the car is in motion via a Bluetooth connection through a cellular phone.
The computer is based on a VIA EPIA M10000 1GHz processor designed especially for DC-powered computer-based consumer electronics products.
Monarch Computer is a privately held company founded in 1991 with annual sales estimated at $38 million to $45 million, according to the company.
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