By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Mobile video suppliers are fighting back against OEM competition and declining prices by moving into the high end of the market, where OEMs are unable to compete and margins are strong.
This year, expect to see a broader range of 15-inch and 17-inch overhead monitors, with some featuring screens (or DVD sections) that detach from the overhead console. The products can then double as home monitors or DVD players or be shuttled from car to car for added value.
Suppliers such as Blaupunkt and Dual are showing slimmer profile overhead monitors that are less than 2 inches thick when closed. And several suppliers are offering high-definition panels.
One of the more unique products this year is a wireless mobile video system from Sony. The company is debuting at CES the first in-dash DVD receiver with a 2.4 GHz wireless transmitter that allows it to wirelessly connect to a rear-seat monitor. The AM/FM/DVD/monitor, model MEX-R5, can beam a video signal to a new Sony 6.5-inch headrest monitor. The monitor can also be removed from its mounting to rest in a child's lap as it comes with an optional battery pack. Both the in-dash DVD receiver (with a new synchro-flip faceplate) and the matching VMF65WL headrest monitor are expected to ship around June at a suggested list price of $449 each. An optional battery pack for the monitor is $99.
Long absent from this segment, Sony will show an in-dash AM/FM/DVD monitor. Called the XAV.A1X, it is unique in that it offers front-panel auxiliary, audio and video inputs and QVGA screen resolution, said the company. The unit is expected to ship in April at an estimated retail price of $1,499.
Capitalizing on the success in the portable arena, Dual is introducing three new portable mobile video products — two of which are available at Wal-Mart already, but are now offered through general distribution. All models use Sharp-brand LCDs. The leader model XDVD110 has a 4.2-inch screen and DVD player and ships with headrest mounting bracket and DC adapter at $159. The step-up XDVD180 offers a 7-inch screen at $199 and is joined by the XDVD270 with two separate 7-inch monitors — a master and a slave. The XDVD270 allows users to watch separate video sources simultaneously at a suggested retail price of $399.
Dual is also launching its first double DIN DVD/monitor, with fully motorized 6.5-inch touch-screen TFT, built-in TV tuner and MP3 at $999. This is joined by an overhead 10.2-inch monitor with built-in DVD that has a slim, 1.6-inch profile when closed. Called the XDVD1002CM, it will ship in the second quarter at a list price of $749.
Alpine is introducing its lowest priced in-dash DVD/monitor to date. The new multimedia station IVA-D310 has an improved version of pulse touch controls that give tactile confirmation when touched, and improved touch-screen operation with drag-and-drop capability. The unit also plays back MP3 audio on DVD, storing up to 8,000 songs at a tentative retail price of $1,300.
The company is also tackling the OEM issue with a new overhead monitor and a DVD player that work with the OE JCI RailPort for easy compatibility with Ford mini-vans, SUVs and larger pickup trucks and future Chrysler and General Motors vehicles. (See Alpine story, p. 118).
Rosenis introducing an upgrade to its A10, the first overhead DVD system with built-in video games. The new Rosen G10 GAMESONBOARD All-In-One System has 25 built-in video games and a 10.2-inch widescreen display. It features an integrated DVD player with MP3 and JPEG image viewer, wireless FM modulator and dual zone controller. The G10 is expected to ship late in the first quarter at $1,999.99.
Blaupunkt is introducing one of the highest quality large-screen car video monitors, with WXGA resolution of 1,280 by 800. The 15.4-inch model IVMR-1542 has a wide viewing angle and will be available in January at a suggested retail of $1,299.99.
Directedis displaying under the West Coast Customs by Directed brand a 17-inch overhead monitor, model WCC OHD1702, with a high-definition panel and RGB input. As several other new Directed overheads, the unit has a removable DVD player that snaps out of the console (while the screen remains fixed). The player can be transported to the home. The DVD section also has a memory card reader for CompactFlash (CF) and Secure Digital (SD) and the monitor allows split screen and PIP. The WCC OHD1702 with MP3 will carry a suggested list price of $1619. Other Directed monitors with detachable DVD will be available in 9-inch, 10-inch and 12.1-inch sizes at prices from $719 to $1,079.
JVCis including SD slots on many of its new products and is offering the ability to store MP3 on DVD. The company's new KD-AVX1 in-dash DVD receiver also adds a built-in 3-inch full color TFT embedded in the face plate. The screen can playback DVD movies or be used for a rear-vision backup camera or navigation. The KD-AVX1 is expected to ship in March at a list price of $699.
Panasonic is showing a 7-inch in-dash DVD/monitor receiver with touch-screen controls, MP3 and XM compatibility. Panasonic says the model is unique in that it also offers Dolby Digital and DTS sound processing and does not require a separate sub-chassis. The CQ-VD7001U also has dual-zone capability at a suggested retail price of $1,299.99.
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.