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Audiovox Puts Stamp On XM's Passport Tuner

2/27/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Some of the first home and portable audio products with a slot for XM's miniature Passport tuner cartridge will be available as early as May and June from Audiovox.

In updating its XM plans, consumer goods VP Ralph Etna said the first round of products with on-chassis Passport slots will include a trio of up-market single-chassis desktop radios marketed under the Audiovox brand. The three products mark the brand's entry into the desktop (or tabletop) radio business, and they consist of a mono table radio, stereo CD-radio and DVD/CD stereo radio, all due in late May or early June.

In the second through third quarters, Audiovox will ship a boombox and micro bookshelf system under the Audiovox name, a Jensen-brand transportable navigation device and a trio of undercabinet radio/TVs, all with on-chassis Passport slots.

Passport "mini tuners" are transportable 1.3-inch by 1.65-inch by 0.44-inch modules designed to make it easier for consumers to listen to satellite radio on multiple devices but pay for only one monthly subscription. The $29.99-suggested Passport modules, which require a separately available passive XM antenna, could eventually replace the $49 Connect and Play antennas with integrated XM tuner. They could also eventually replace the larger and more expensive transportable plug-and-play tuners, which combine tuner and controls and can be docked into a home or car audio system and into specially designed boomboxes.

Besides plugging directly into the products themselves, Passport tuners will also plug into $29.99-suggested home, boombox and car audio docking stations controlled from a growing selection of XM-ready consumer electronics devices that are part of XM's Connect And Play program.

Audiovox is the exclusive distributor of Passport mini tuners and Passport-related accessories, including home and car docks but not the passive XM antennas that the mini tuner and docks require.

Here's a SKU-by-SKU description of Audiovox's new XM-ready products:

Desktop radios: All three feature chassis-top slot to insert a Passport mini tuner. The $119-suggested XR100 desktop radio is a mono model 5-watt Class D amplifier, alarm clock with dual alarm and snooze feature, 30-90 minute sleep function and 30 presets for each of three radio bands. It ships at the end of May or early June.

The $229-suggested XRC200 adds stereo playback, remote and CD player that plays discs encoded with MP3 and WMA files. It features Class AB amplifier, a pair of 3-inch drivers, a 4-inch subwoofer and stereo surround mode.

The $349-suggested XRD501 Media Center adds slot-load DVD/CD player and SRS's virtual surround technology to deliver a 5.1-channel soundfield from two speakers. It plays discs encoded with MP3 and protected WMA music files, MPEG video files and JPEGs. It will also stream the audio and video files from a nearby PC through its USB 1.1 port. Like the other stereo model, it features 30 preset for each radio band and built-in subwoofer.

Microsystem: The CE546XM 60-watt micro MP3/CD shelf system features front-panel Passport slot, separate enclosed speakers, electronic AM/FM tuning, 20 station presets, alarm clock and remote control. The suggested retail is $115. It ships in June or July.

Boombox: The CE246XM with Passport slot features AM/FM tuner, CD, cassette recorder and remote control. Pricing was unavailable. It also ships in June or July.

Undercabinet TVs: Three models due in July or August with Passport slot feature LCD screens and AM/FM clock radio. One comes with 7-inch screen, one with 7-inch screen and DVD player, and one with 10-inch screen and DVD player. Features include MP3-CD playback. Additional details were unavailable.

Transportable navigation: One Audiovox-brand and one Jensen-brand model fall under the Passport program, but the former won't sport a Passport slot. Instead, the NVX406 will ship with a Passport docking station that plugs into the unit.

Both models are car-to-car GPS navigation systems that also double as portable media players (PMPs) capable of playing MPEG-4 video, MP3 and protected WMA audio, and JPEGs.

The Audiovox-branded NVX406, due in late May or early June at a suggested $799, features 3.5-inch touch screen, 4GB HDD that includes maps of the United States and Canada and lithium-ion battery with three to four hours of operation. Its basic PMP and PDA functions include MP3 and MPEG-4 video playback. The HDD also stores 6 million points of interest, including fuel, food, intersections and attractions.

USB 2.0 compatibility allows for fast downloads of music, video or map updates. It comes with dashboard-windshield mounting kit included.

The Jensen transportable GPS system, which features Passport slot at a suggested $799, includes 4-inch touch screen, 20GB HDD and SD Card slot.

Both models come with FM modulator to deliver XM programming through car stereo speakers while the built-in speaker gives turn-by-turn driving instructions.

Audiovox car stereo head units with rear-panel inputs to connect directly to a Passport car dock will also be available later this year, followed by head units with front-panel Passport slots.

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