By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Pre-fabricated headrests with built-in monitors designed for specific car models is emerging as a new product niche in mobile video. At least three suppliers are now offering the headrest/monitors that dramatically cut down on installation time and benefit customers with leased vehicles.
SAVV, Paramount, Calif., claims to have delivered the first headrest/monitors last fall, followed by Vizualogic, a division of TMI Products, Corona, Calif., as well as Myron and Davis, San Bernadino, Calif., which began shipping earlier this year. Suppliers estimate that they will collectively ship at least 20,000 units this year.
The key advantage of the headrest/monitors is they allow the driver of a leased vehicle to simply swap headrests and then replace his original headrest when his lease expires. "For a Chevy Suburban, if you want a TV monitor in the headrest, when you turn in your lease, they charge you $450 per headrest," said John Dera, sales manager for Myron and Davis. Suppliers say the price of a pre-fabricated headrest/monitor is about equal to the cost of a custom installation for a monitor, so both the customer and retailer can benefit.
TMI's director of mobile electronics Warren Moran says the new niche is "just part of the evolution of the industry. Overhead applications have been very strong for the last few years, and we moved to larger screen sizes. Now we're moving into multiple sources and we're able to provide multiple screens for about what it used to cost to do one screen. So we're looking for better ways to handle the installation issues."
SAVV offers headrest monitors for all General Motors SUVs, Lexus, Mercedes Benz ML class and E class, Lincoln Navigator, and BMW 5 and 7 series vehicles. The units range from approximately $549 for a 5.6-inch built-in monitor to $699 for a 7-inch monitor. Myron and Davis, San Bernadino, Calif., showed its first headrest monitors in January. They claim to offer models for nearly every type of leading vehicle, with more than 135 SKUS with built-in screens in 5, 5.6 and 7 inches.
TMI, through its Vizualogic division, began shipping headrest monitors in March. It currently offers headrest monitors for most full-sized SUVs and a limited number of sedan models. The units are available with 5.6 standard and 7-inch widescreen monitors at prices ranging from about $499 to $579, the company said. They feature a three-position tilt mechanism and are currently available for Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Toyota and Honda applications. Vizualogic says it plans to offer products for "the full range" of SUVs by August.
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