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LAS VEGAS -After a stunning year in car video, many suppliers are racing to bring out their first car audio DVD players, tapping into a market that is expected to reach $100 million this year for all car multimedia products.
Up from $60 million in 2000, according to suppliers, multimedia sales continue to skyrocket, with prices starting to drop and the market beginning to settle into a good, better, best selection.
DVD is quickly overtaking the high-end slot of car video, with suppliers such as JVC, Kenwood and Sony showing their first in-car DVD players. Panasonic will add three new models to its lineup, and Pioneer may also show several DVD prototypes.
Suppliers including Audiovox, Blaupunkt, Clarion and Eclipse debuted models late last year.
Sony's first DVD player is a 10-disc DVD changer. It comes with an optional RF output for OEM integration and plays CDs, as well as DVDs.
JVC's first DVD unit is a single-DIN DVD player slave unit with a zinc front face. It comes with an antishock floating mechanism and a video/audio memory buffer. Called the KVDV7, it can be mounted in the dash or under the seat.
Kenwood's new units include the KVT-910DVD AM/FM/CD/DVD player with a built-in, 6.5-inch retractable widescreen LCD. It is one of the first models (along with the Clarion Joyride) with dual-zone playback capability so it can deliver different program sources to two screens. Its LCD provides touch-screen access to control functions.
The KVT-910DVD comes with a separate black box with built-in TV tuner. With its larger, improved screen, it replaces the P907 at a suggested retail price of $2,300.
It is joined by the new in-dash AM/FM/CD/DVD Excelon Z910DVD (without screen), designed for use with stand-alone mobile video displays.
Both DVD units work with Kenwood's new optional mobile 5.1-channel DSP surround-sound decoder-model KDS-P900-allowing playback of Dolby Digital, DTS, MPEG and Dolby Pro Logic. Both DVD models also play CD-R, CD-RW and CD-Video discs, and they offer Kenwood's new advanced crossover and sound processing.
Alpine will debut a six-disc DVD changer that it claims is the first to include all of its own built-in controls and a wireless remote, so a head unit isn't needed to control it. Called the DHA-680, the changer is expected to ship in late spring at an approximate retail price of $1,500.
Panasonic is showing three new DVD models, including its least expensive player, called the CXDV700. It replaces the stand-alone model CXDV1500 but adds CD-text capability and new cosmetics, and it comes with a new IR interface to operate with video monitors via wireless remote control.
The new CQ-DVR7000U is a CD/DVD receiver with Dolby Digital processor and four-channel amplifier. (It does not include DVD Audio.) Shipping is expected this spring at an estimated retail price of $1,199.
Panasonic's third new model is the CY-VMD9000U in-dash DVD player with built-in 7-inch motorized monitor with RGB input for a future Panasonic DVD navigation system (see navigation story, p. 87). The CY-VMD9000U works with either of two optional control boxes: the CA-TU9000U flagship model with five-channel amplifier, Dolby Digital and DTS plus AM/FM receiver; or the CA-TU7000U with four-channel amplifier and AM/FM tuner.
The Panasonic CQ DVR909U stays in the line and remains the only DVD Audio-capable DVD Video unit in production.
Also new from Panasonic are two very large LCD flat-panel, widescreen monitors, measuring 15 and 22 inches. Designed for RVs, SUVs, minivans and 18-wheelers, the TFT units-models TC-15LT1 and TC-22LT1-have 16:9 aspect ratios.
In portable units, Audiovox is introducing its second-generation portable DVD player with flip-up screen. Called the DV-1680, it has a 6.8-inch screen, cigarette adapter and credit card-size remote. It plays MP3, as well as CD-R and CD-RW, at a suggested retail price of $1,000. TMI Products, Corona, Calif., is also adding a portable 12-volt DVD player without screen at $499.
In other multimedia products, Alpine will show a lower-cost multimedia station, the CVA-1003, at $1,000. An AM/FM control center with a 6.5-inch motorized, retractable widescreen, the unit is designed to combine with the DHA-680 DVD changer, navigation and other products.
Alpine is also debuting its first overhead flip-down monitor. It has a 6.5-inch screen that uses a patent-pending swivel mechanism to keep the monitor level, regardless of angle, for all viewing positions.
Called the PME-M680, the Alpine monitor includes an IR wireless headphone transmitter, A/V outputs and remote control (including control for the dome light). It comes with trim-matched console options and a fully adjustable metal-bracket mounting system to ensure safety and dramatically reduce installation time, claims Witt.
The PME-M680 is expected to ship in January at an approximate $1,000 retail price, with monitor and trim consoles.
Alpine will also introduce single-channel wireless headphones at $49 and its first IR dual-channel, dual-source headphones at $159.
Clarion is adding four new video monitors, including two fully motorized in-dash models. One is a DIN-sized CD receiver with 7-inch motorized screen at an estimated suggested retail price of $1,599. It is joined by the model 610, which has a 5.8-inch motorized screen, AM/FM tuner and CD changer controls (but no CD player) at $899. Both are expected to ship in the first quarter.
In other multimedia products, Jensen is launching a car A/V line called the "intellicar" series, which will initially include a CD receiver with an expandable bus that allows users to connect up to four A/V components.
The model IC8010 comes with CD changer controls, a built-in 60 x 4-watt amplifier and outputs for up to three monitors. Suggested retail price for the IC8010 is $229.