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Audiovox Updates FLO TV, Mobile ATSC Plans

6/18/2010 03:46:12 PM Eastern
Hauppauge, N.Y. - More FLO TV products are due from Audiovox in the coming months, but the company will hold off shipping mobile ATSC products until early next year, Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone told TWICE.

In updating the company's mobile DTV roadmap, Malone said a portable DVD player with embedded FLO TV tuner and embedded antenna will ship in limited quantities in mid-July at a suggested $199 to support a couple of key retailers. Distribution will expand as demand warrants. The ship date "slipped a little" because "it took a little more time to get it the way we wanted," Malone said.

The first aftermarket FLO-ready overhead DVD/monitor, built to control an add-on FLO TV tuner, will ship in June, followed 60 days later by two other in-vehicle aftermarket products: a FLO-ready Jensen-brand in-dash multimedia head unit with 7-inch screen and a headrest-mounted LCD monitor/DVD system with dual 7-inch screens.

The Jensen head unit and add-on FLO TV tuner were originally targeted to ship in the spring, followed about a month later by the FLO-ready overhead system and dual-headrest system.

Three months ago, the company shipped the Audiovox-brand FLO TV car kit, which adds FLO TV tuner and controls to previously installed in-car video systems. It retails for $599 with installation, excluding subscription service. It joined an Advent-branded expediter version installed by car dealers at $899 to $999, including a year of subscription service.

The company has been shipping the handheld tablet-style FLO TV portable since late 2009.

In Mobile ATSC, the company pushed back until next year the availability of a portable DVD player with built-in mobile ATSC tuner, originally planned for the first half of this year. To make the product appealing to regional chains and national accounts, Malone explained, Mobile ATSC broadcasts by local TV stations must expand well beyond the approximate eight markets where the Open Mobile Video Coalition says more than 40 local TV stations are currently offering the service. Service standards were ratified by the ATSC only last October.

With that in mind, Audiovox plans January 2011 shipments of an add-on Mobile ATSC tuner that integrates with currently installed in-vehicle video systems, Malone said. By that time, he explained, Mobile ATSC broadcasting will be online in enough geographic pockets that the company will be able to ship the tuner to smaller 12-volt specialty retailers in those pockets.

At 2011 International CES, nonetheless, Audiovox will show preproduction working samples of a handheld TV and portable DVD player, both with Mobile ATSC tuner. The products will be rolled out "as the markets fill up with broadcasters," he said. Local independent and small regional retailers would be the first to offer the two products, with larger regional players and national retailers brining them on board "when coverage is robust," he said. A regional retailer with 30 of 80 stores in Mobile ATSC markets might hold off until coverage expands, he noted. "We will map coverage as it grows," he added.

FLO TV coverage, in contrast, is near national.
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