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Kenwood Makes More In-Car Smartphone Connections

1/10/2012 06:56:00 PM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Connectivity is the key to Kenwood’s
2012 automotive head-unit lineup.

In launching 46 new products other than accessories,
the company is expanding the number of CD receivers
that control Pandora Internet radio on a USB-connected
iPhone to 15, from nine, starting at a suggested $140.

Kenwood is also providing a greater degree of headunit
control over music stored on USB-connected Android
phones, and the company is launching head units that
provide as much wireless-Bluetooth control over Pandora
apps running on Android and BlackBerry smartphones as
does a wired USB connection to a Pandora-loaded iPhone.

In another smartphone-connectivity improvement, Kenwood
is upgrading iPhone App Mode in three multimedia
head units. The upgrade enables touchscreen control
of seek, play, pause and stop functions for such apps as
YouTube, Netflix and Slacker Radio. Previously, App Mode
enabled streaming of the apps’ audio and video through
the iPhone’s 30-pin connector but didn’t allow for headunit
control.

In other developments, Kenwood is:

• turning three multimedia head units into more affordable
multimedia/navigations systems by enabling them to
display maps from a Garmin StreetPilot app running on a
docked iPhone;

• expanding embedded HD Radio to eight CD receivers,
from two, and to four multimedia/navigation units,
from one, all with iTunes tagging;

• adding a port on eight head units starting at an expected
everyday $160 to connect to SiriusXM’s new hideaway
universal tuner; and

• offering its first head units with software that simplifies
and reduces the cost of head-unit integration with Ford
Sync systems.

In improving connectivity to USB-connected Android
phones, the company is launching a free app that enables
head-unit selection of Android-phone-stored songs by
title, artist, album and mood when the phone is placed in
mass-storage mode. The USB connection also charges
the Android phone.

In its 2011 line, Kenwood offered multimedia-navigation
units that charged Android phones and allowed users to
navigate songs only by folder and by using track up/down
controls.

To expand wireless Bluetooth control to more advanced
Pandora functions in Android and BlackBerry smartphones,
the company is adopting Bluetooth’s serial port
profile (SPP) for the first time in 10 head units. SPP appears
on four multimedia/nav systems and six CD receivers
starting at a suggested $220.

Compared to head units that use Bluetooth AVRCP
(audio video remote control profile) to control only basic
Pandora functions on Android and BlackBerry phones,
SPP-equipped heads add control of channel selection,
tagging of favorite songs and artists, and access favorites,
and Pandora’s thumbs up/down function. Album art
is also streamed to head units with LCD full
color displays.

Bluetooth AVRCP enables wireless control
only of such basic Pandora functions as
track up and play/pause functions.

To deliver connectivity with Ford, Lincoln
and Mercury Sync systems, the company
is adding Sync compatibility to five new indash
multimedia/navigation units at suggested
prices from $1,000 to $1,600.

Here’s what Kenwood is launching in select
product segments:

In-dash navigation: Five new models
are the $1,600-suggested DNX9990HD,
$1,500 DNX7190HD, $1,200 DNX-
6990HD, $1,100 DNX6190HD and $1,000
DNX5190. All feature Garmin navigation
technology, which is exclusive in the in-dash
aftermarket to Kenwood. New features include
photo-realistic junction view, predictive
routing and traffic-trend routing.

Four of the five feature built-in HD Radio
with iTunes tagging, universal SiriusXM tuner
port, iPod/iPhone USB connection, and
ability to control many functions, not just basic
functions, of Pandora apps residing on a
connected iPhone. All but one model offer
stereo Bluetooth and Bluetooth’s Serial Port
Profile (SPP).

All five feature seamless OEM integration
with a factory Ford Sync system, thanks to
Kenwood’s exclusive compatibility with an
iData Link Maestro module from Automotive
Data Solutions (ADS). Sync integration also
requires vehicle-specific T harnesses and
vehicle-specific firmware downloaded from
the web.

The ADS module, expected in March, will
be less expensive than aftermarket Sync-integration
kits that cost around $250, require
an add-on LCD display, and require users to
keep the head unit in aux-input mode to use
their car’s Sync features, Kenwood said.

Within the navigation lineup, the flagship
Kenwood Excelon DNX9990HD features
6.95-inch VGA touchscreen, built-in HD
Radio, control of Aha Radio on a connected
iPhone, digital time alignment and dual iPod/
USB inputs. It ships in March.

Multimedia head units: The $700-suggested
DDX719, $550 DDX419 and $500
DDX319 are due in March with control of the
Pandora app on a USB-connected iPhone.

All three also offer universal SiriusXM tuner
port and exclusive compatibility with an optional
Garmin Street Pilot navigation app
running on a USB-connected iPhone.
All three feature the improved iPhone App
Mode, two offer stereo Bluetooth, and all
connect via USB to charge Android phones
and navigate stored music by file folder and
by track up/down. All models ship in March.

Excelon in-dash CD receivers: Seven
new models in the company’s premium CD
receiver series are priced from a suggested
$140 to $320, all with control of Pandora
on a USB-connected iPhone. The top three
models are equipped with Bluetooth SPP to
wirelessly control Pandora on Android and
BlackBerry phones. HD Radio with iTunes
tagging is in four of the seven.