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SiriusXM Universal Tuner, Pandora Lead Sony Car Launch

8/10/2011 09:01:25 AM Eastern

San Diego - Sony will
bring control of Pandora's Internet radio app and SiriusXM's universal satellite-radio
tuner to a wide range of aftermarket head units in the coming weeks at opening
price points lower than competing suppliers' offerings.

At a suggested $90, the CDX-GT360MP will be the aftermarket's least-expensive head unit with universal connector to connect to the universal SiriusXM tuner,

Among eight new
Sony single-DIN CD receivers, four feature SiriusXM universal-tuner connector
at suggested retails of $90, $100, $130 and $150.

Four head units
are the company's first to control a Pandora app on a USB-connected iPhone.
They include the $130 and $150 head units with universal connector and two head
units at $200 and $280 without universal connector.

Among competing
suppliers, control of Pandora on a USB-connected iPhone starts at a suggested
$150, said Mike Kahn, director of Sony's mobile business unit. Head units with
universal connector are available only from Alpine at $199 and, for a CD receiver
bundled with universal SiriusXM tuner, $229, excluding a $30 mail-in rebate
available through the end of the year from SiriusXM for its $69-suggested universal
tuner.

Sony's $280 DSX-S310BTX
will be the aftermarket's first head unit to use Bluetooth's AVRC profile to
control all functions, excluding custom channel creation, of a Pandora app
residing on smartphones other than the iPhone. The app uses technology jointly
developed by Pandora and Sony, but the technology will be available to other
suppliers to build into their head units.

All of the new
head units will be shown publicly for the first time at The Mobile Electronics
Retailers Association's (MERA) KnowledgeFest at the end of August, said Kahn.
Some ship at the end of August to dealers, and the remainder ship two weeks
later. All will be on display in stores by mid September.

At a suggested $90,
the CDX-GT360MP will be the aftermarket's least-expensive head unit with
universal connector to connect to the universal SiriusXM tuner, Kahn said. The
head unit will also be priced lower than satellite-ready head units that require
the installation of a translator box and adapter cables designed for specific
head-unit brands, he added.

SiriusXM's new $69-suggested
universal tuner connects directly to any brand of head unit with a universal
connector via a single cable that also delivers power to the tuner. The
universal tuner and connector are designed to drive down the cost of buying and
installing satellite radio and simplify inventory management.

Satellite-ready
heads requiring translator boxes and adapter cables start at about a suggested
$120, Kahn said, and the add-ons themselves add another $150, excluding
additional installation costs of up to $75.

"I can see [the
$90 CDX-GT360MP] being very promotional and bundled with the tuner," Kahn said.

Sony's $280 DSX-S310BTX will be the aftermarket’s first head unit to use Bluetooth’s AVRC profile to control all functions, excluding custom channel creation, of a Pandora app residing on Android and BlackBerry smartphones.

Other features of
the CDX-GT360MP include slot-load CD, MP3/WMA-CD playback, and analog aux in to
connect MP3 players.

At a suggested
$100, the CDX-GT56UI features SiriusXM universal connector and USB control of a
connected iPod and iPhone. iPod/iPhone control previously started at $120 in
the company's line.

At a suggested
$130, the CDX-GT565UP combines universal connector with control of Pandora's
app on a USB-connected iPhone. It also adds user-selectable choice of 35,000
faceplate-illumination colors.

At a suggested
$150 in the Sony line, the CDX-GT660UP also features universal connector, Pandora
control via USB and choice of 35,000 illumination colors, but it adds drop-down
front panel concealing a CD slot. The hidden CD slot opens up space on the
front panel for a two-line display to simultaneously display artist and track
metadata. The head unit also adds SensMe technology, which lets users select songs
for playback by any of 16 moods. SensMe works with music on USB drives, MP3
CDs, and all MP3 players but Apple-branded players.

At a suggested $200,
the DSX-S210X lacks universal connector but controls Pandora on a USB-connected
iPhone, and it adds drop-down front panel concealing a Tune Tray slide-out tray
that holds an iPhone, iPod, USB drive, or other USB-connected MP3 player to
control and play back stored music.

The DSX-S210X also
features four-line OEL-LED display viewable in sunlight. It adds dual USBs and
seven-band digital EQ with time alignment. SensMe is also included.

At $280, the
DSV-S310BTX is a Tune Tray model that also lacks universal connector but
features control of the Pandora app on a USB-connected iPhone and adds Bluetooth
AVRCP control of Pandora on Android and BlackBerry smartphones. It doesn't
offer Pandora control on a Windows smartphone. Pandora content will stream to
the head unit via stereo Bluetooth. It also features four-line display, SensMe,
dual USBs, and digital EQ and time alignment.

"We expect to be
alone with this feature this year," Kahn said of Pandora control via Bluetooth.
At January's International CES, Sony plans a second head unit with Pandora
control via Bluetooth as well as more heads compatible with the universal
tuner, Kahn said.

Two other head
units among the company's eight new SKUs are the $70-suggested CDX-GT260MP
single-DIN slot-load CD receiver with MP3-CD playback and analog aux-in. These
features were previously available at a suggested $90 in the Sony lineup.

The other head is
the $95-suggested CDX-GT40U, which adds USB port to connect and control music
selection on a USB drive or non-Apple MP3 player. That feature was previously available
at $110.

All heads feature
improved DSP to clear up FM multipath and a new IC amplifier chip to reduce
distortion and increase signal-to-noise ratio. All also feature RDS-FM tuner. The
models with iPod/USB input capture an iPod's digital PCM output.

 Sony said it launches some of its car audio
aftermarket products in the fall to coincide with automakers' production
cycles.

 

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