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Altec Expanding iPod Docking-Station Line

7/19/2006 01:52:00 PM Eastern

Milford, Pa. — Altec Lansing is expanding its selection of iPod-docking hi-fi stations with three new models, including its first intended strictly for use in the home as a substitute for a traditional compact stereo system.

The company is also launching a second-generation noise-canceling headphone.

Altec’s $199-suggested M602 is the company’s first iPod hi-fi station, or iPod speaker system, to operate only on AC for in-home use. The company’s other models operate on AC and batteries for use in the home and as a boombox-like portable, said senior marketing manager Pamela Roccabruna. As such, the M602 will not use the company’s inMotion brand, which is the primary brand appearing on “take-and-go” speaker docks designed to operate on either AC or batteries. Because the M602 operates only on AC, it delivers higher output through a 2x30-watt RMS amplifier that drives a two-way speaker system, which comprises a 3-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter.

The M602, appearing in stores in the next couple of weeks, uses Apple’s new universal dock system, which consists of a universal well that accepts multiple physical adapters that Apple ships with each iPod to hold the iPod securely in an approved docking station, Roccabruna said. The 8.2-inch by 14-inch by 5.4-inch system is white and silver and features top-mount controls for volume, bass and treble. A supplied remote also accesses those features and provides control over the iPod menu. A composite-video output permits display of stored pictures and videos on a connected TV.

For those few consumers who own other-brand MP3 players, Altec provides an optional “lean-to” base to lean the player against and a 3.5mm input and cable to make the connection. Altec’s supplied remote would continue to control volume and bass/treble but not the player’s song selection.

Free optional wall brackets available online from Altec permit wall hanging.

In its inMotion line, the company is adding a thin model intended for thin iPod nanos and a larger model with a rugged look.

The nano-specific system, the $129-suggested iM500, is said to be the thinnest iPod speaker dock currently on the market. It’s available exclusively through Best Buy for a month and features fold-in control panel and fold-in base for storage in luggage or fitness bags, Roccabruna said. The flash-memory nano itself, she noted, is often used as a second iPod by consumers for traveling or working out.

The 12-ounce iM500 is 5 inch by 8.5 inches by 0.6 inches and operates off six AA batteries delivering up to eight hours of playing time. It uses a pair of rectangular 2-inch by 1.5-inch cone drivers to maximize surface area and thus SPLs while maintaining a trim shape. Features include mini USB for syncing with a PC and a 2.5mm aux input to connect other music sources via a 3.5 mm adapter.

The other new inMotion system is the already available iM9 rugged model suitable for tailgating parties, dorms, beach homes and carrying around in a backpack because of its rubberized, shock-resistant design elements. Four C batteries deliver more than 24 hours of playback time. Its base folds in to deliver a thin form factor at 7.8 inches by 11 inches by 3 inches. A 3.5mm aux-in connects to other music sources.

All of the systems recharge an iPod when connected to AC.

In headphones, the company plans August in-store availability of a second-generation noise-canceling headphone, the inMotion AHP812, which is smaller than the previous model and adds padded ear cups, padded headband, a smaller in-line controller and travel case rather than carry bag. Like before, it offers the same noise-reduction capability with active noise cancellation across the 40Hz-12kHz spectrum with up to 19dB noise reduction at lower frequencies.

The suggested retail is $199, compared with its predecessor’s $149, but is still less than competing models from Bose, she said.

Although Plantronics and Altec each market extensive lines of headphones, the lines don’t overlap much, Roccabruna said, pointing to Plantronics’ offerings focused on office and home-office headsets and on cellular hands-free headsets.

Altec’s focus is more music-oriented, she noted, and the company brings to Plantronics the brand’s equity in the stereo market and its driver expertise. In return, Altec is getting access to such Plantronics channels as cellular carriers, including Sprint and Verizon, which are offering inMotion-brand speaker-docking stations for select MP3-playing cellular phones.

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