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Tabletop Radios Add Wi-Fi, New Sources

2/11/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

A tabletop home radio isn't complete these days without an iPod dock, Wi-Fi access to Internet radio, HD Radio or satellite radio reception, a growing number of suppliers believe.

Sangean, for example, plans to expand its selection of tabletop Internet radios (see story at right). Audiovox plans its first tabletop Internet radios under the RCA and Acoustics Research brands. European supplier Sonoro is entering the U.S. market with a quartet of radios that include an iPod-docking model and an Internet radio, and iLuv is launching its first tabletop HD Radios.

Here's what dealers will find in coming months:

Audiovox: In Internet radio, the company is launching its first models, including two versions of the RCA-brand Infinite Radio with analog AM/FM, USB Host, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, and direct access to a custom Web radio aggregation service and to Slacker's personalized Internet radio service. The RIR200 retails for a suggested $99, but the $149 RIR205 adds a companion "Wi-Fi enabler," a transmitter/receiver that plugs into a wired home-network router and makes it unnecessary to use Wi-Fi setup software.

An Acoustic Research tabletop radio with Internet radio and iPod dock is due in the second quarter. It will be based on the cosmetics of the $199-suggested ART1 iPod-docking tabletop analog-AM/FM radio with cherrywood cabinet.

Audiovox has also unveiled two Acoustics Research-brand table radios that will be the industry's first table radios with embedded slot to accept XM Mini-Tuners (see Jan. 7 issue of TWICE, p. 138). They also sport embedded iPod docks and are due in the first quarter at a suggested $129 and $239.

Cue Acoustics: The first product from the Somerville, Mass., start-up is a biamplified AM/FM tabletop radio with ab embedded iPod dock and an optional auxiliary speaker to deliver stereo. The products are due around April at suggested retails of $399 for the 4-inch by 10.5-inch by 6.5-inch radio and $99 for the auxiliary speaker.

The radio chassis features 4x25-watt amplifier, which drives the concentrically mounted 3.5-inch woofer and 0.75-inch silk-dome tweeter in the main chassis and an identical driver complement in the optional speaker.

To simplify operation, the Cue radio uses touch-sensitive buttons that light up when they're required to be used.

The tuning knob helps users intuitively find radio stations by providing tactile feedback, in the form of a pulse, when tuning into a station. The feedback varies in strength based on the station's signal strength, so tuning into a strong station will stop a consumer from turning the knob for a moment, said CEO Sam Millen.

"When you're in an iPod menu," Millen added, "you'll feel pulses as you roll over each menu choice, such as artist, album, and genre, and you'll be stopped from going any farther when you reach the end of the menu," he explained.

Eton: The company's first tabletop AM/FM radio with embedded iPod dock is the Eton Sound 140 at a suggested $299. The company already offered table radios packaged with a separate iPod dock/stand. It's due late in the first or second quarters.

iLuv: The first two HD-Radio products from the brand are tabletop clock radios, one with an embedded iPod dock. Both ship in March.

The $129-suggested i168 is a one-piece clock radio with FM multicasting, metadata display, 30 station presets, dual alarms and 3.5mm aux input. The step-up $189-suggested i169 adds dock on top, remote control of iPod functions and five EQ presets.

Sonoro: The Cologne, Germany-based company, launched in 2005, is bringing a quartet of luxury-positioned table radios to the United States.

The $289-suggested Cubo CD/FM mono radio with alarm clock functions features 3.5-inch driver, 3.5mm input, and availability in seven high-gloss finishes and three real-wood finishes. It's due in the second quarter.

Cubo Elements, due as early as the second quarter at a suggested $199, is an AM/FM mono model without CD but with an included iPod stand that connects the iPod to the radio via a 3.5mm input.

As early as the third quarter, Sonoro will ship the Internet edition of the Cubo Elements. It is an FM/Internet clock radio with included iPod stand that connects to the radio's 3.5mm input. The unit is equipped with Wi-Fi and Ethernet port. The suggested retail will be about $349. In June or July, the Fusion will ship with mono AM/FM radio, CD and embedded iPod dock.