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Alpine Debuts Broad Lineup, Training Program

2/11/2010 09:50:30 AM Eastern

Torrance, Calif.
- Alpine is rolling out a 2010 lineup that includes an expanded selection of
basic CD-receivers, new OEM-upgrade products, new driver-assistance systems and
shallow high-performance subwoofers.

 Alpine’s second-generation OEM-upgrade processor, the $549-suggested Imprint PXE-H660, lets users retain factory-head volume control in OEM systems with an outboard factory amp.
 The $549-suggested HCE-C200R driver-assistance camera system offers multiple viewing options.

The products also
include the company's first all-in-one double-DIN A/V-navigation unit and first
head unit with built-in Pandora Internet radio application (see TWICE, Jan. 7,
p. 90 and 92).

To support what he
called a "strong line with a lot of new products," product promotion manager
Steve Brown said Alpine will expand its dealer-training program in the coming
months. Last year, the company conducted product training through its rep force
and, for select larger accounts, through factory personnel. This year, the
company will add factory-direct training sessions in five to six markets
beginning sometime in April, Browns said.

"We want to get hands-on
with the smaller dealers," Brown said. "We can't expect them all to come to
CES." The one-day training sessions will be split into two four- or five-hour
sessions, each attracting from 50 to 60 people. Locations haven't been
announced.

New products that
will get a mention during the events are two products introduced at dealer
request: Alpine's lowest-priced CD-receiver to date, the $129-suggested
CDE-100, and the $399 CDA-117, which is the company's first head unit in five
or six years to incorporate built-in DSP to set equalization, crossover points
and speaker time alignment. The company already offers a $179-suggested
PXA-H100 Imprint outboard DSP processor that performs the same functions when
added to any Alpine head unit with an Ai databus port. The Imprint uses a
microphone to automatically tune a sound system, whereas in the CDA-117,
installers or consumers manually enter settings without a microphone.

The CDA-117 is
also Alpine's first head unit with RDS-based iTunes tagging over analog FM broadcasts.
The satellite- and HD Radio-ready CDA-117 also features 4-volt front and rear
outputs.

The promotional
CDE-100 at $129 is part of an expanded CDE series of basic single-DIN in-dash
CD-receivers that lack the ability to add on satellite radio or HD Radio. Its
front-panel USB connection is for use with music-laden USB sticks and portable
hard drives. A front-panel 3.5mm input connects to portable music players.

The CDE selection
goes to three from one with the addition of the CDE-100 and the $249 CDE-103BT,
which is a Bluetooth-equipped version of the carryover $179 CDE-102. The 103BT
and 102 feature USB connection and are certified as Made for iPod and Works
with iPhone.

Although
competitors offer basic CD-receivers from $100 to $120, the $129 CDE-100 sports
the "quality look and feel" of Alpine's higher end models, Brown said.

For upgrading OEM
sound quality, the company introduced its second-generation OEM-upgrade DSP
processor, the Imprint PXE-H660 at a suggested $549. Its input-voltage range has
been widened so that, in OEM sounds systems with outboard amplifiers, consumers
can continue to use the factory head's volume control without inducing
distortion, Brown said. With the previous model, consumers had to use an
Alpine-supplied remote to adjust system volume without distorting the sound.
The separate remote wasn't needed, however, when the module was connected to a
factory head with built-in amp.

To upgrade OEM
systems with an outboard OEM amp, the module connects between the OEM amp and
aftermarket amps. Installers wouldn't remove the OEM amp because doing so might
interfere with the functioning of other OEM vehicle systems on the same OEM
databus. The aftermarket amp would then drive aftermarket speakers.

Similar modules
offered by competitors eliminate the ability to use the factory head's volume
control when connected to an OEM outboard amp, and those models also don't
offer automated setup, Brown said. Alpine setup takes five minutes, he added.

Another new
factory-upgrade device is the $119 DPR-RDS1 iPod/iPhone interface, whose FM
modulator connects to a radio's antenna input to send music to the factory
radio. If the radio is RDS-equipped, the radio will also display music
metadata.

In expanding its
selection of driver-assistance camera systems, Alpine introduced three new
models, including its first with 360-degree view around a vehicle. The
360-degree system, called a "top-view" system, uses four cameras to
simultaneously display the view from all sides of a vehicle, helping consumers
parallel park or change lanes without worrying about blind spots, Brown said.
Another new driver-assist system is the company's first rear-view camera system
to use image processing to sense movement.

Both new camera
systems connect to the RCA video inputs of the company's A/V head units. Plans
for both will be announced in September or October. No pricing has been
announced, but the 360-degree-view system retails for about $2,000 in Japan,
excluding installations.

A third new
driver-assistance system, the $549-suggested HCE-C200R, ships in March with a
multiview feature. Its rear-camera view can be switched from a standard 120-degree
to 130-degree view to a split rearview to display left and right views as you
back out of a parking space. It also provides a 180-degree view and a "down
view," which lets drivers check for bumper proximity when parking. An optional
$499 front camera offers the same features.

In speakers, the
company is launching a $449-suggested 10-inch subwoofer and $499 12-inch model
whose shallow mounting depths of 3.25 inches and 3.5 inches, respectively, make
them suitable for installation in pickups, compact cars, and door panels.
Unlike other shallow-depth subs, the two Type-R subs deliver the same output
and bass response as standard-depth 10- and 12-inch models and do so in small
enclosures of 0.4 cubic feet and 0.6 to 0.7 cubic feet, respectively, Brown
said. A spider that passes through the subwoofer's frame is one element that
delivers the subwoofers' output despite the shallow depth. Competing subwoofers
are limited in performance or require larger enclosures, he added.

Other new R-
series subs also got an inch thinner while boosting power handling to 600 watts
from 500. A new $220 12-inch sub features 6.5-inch depth, and a $200 10-inch
model features 5-inch depth. Each is available in dual 4-ohm or dual 2-ohm
versions.

Alpine's first
head unit with Pandora app is a disc-less "digital media receiver," the
single-DIN $399-suggested iDA-X305S. It controls Pandora's Internet-music
service when connected via supplied USB cable to an iPhone. It's part of a
four-SKU disc-less lineup that includes a carryover $249 single-DIN iDA-X303
and two double-DIN models.

The company's
first A/V head unit with built-in navigation is the double-DIN iNA-W900,
replacing a pair of models with optional slide-in navigation module. "In the U.S., consumers
who buy a large-screen double-DIN unit also want navigation," and embedding
navigation in the unit reduces a consumer's cost, Brown said.

The company
carried over rear-seat entertainment solutions and its add-on $449 HDD-based
navigation module, launched late last year for addition to single-DIN and
double-DIN nav-ready A/V head units.

 

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