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Apex Boosts Lineup With DVR, PMP, Digicams

Apex Digital is broadening its CE portfolio with the launch of its first portable media player (PMP), the rollout of an expanded selection of digital cameras, and an expansion of its portable DVD player line.

The company also added DVR capability and TV Guide EPG to its delayed ApeXtreme DVD player/game console, an industry-first device that uses embedded Windows XP to play PC games on a TV. It will be Apex’s first DVR-equipped product.

Shipments of the $499-suggested ApeXtreme, equipped with 40GB HDD, were pushed back to August from April because “it took more work than we expected,” said president Steve Brothers. “PC gaming is very demanding.”

Apex’s battery-powered MP-2000, due in July at an everyday $399 price tag, can be used to play video and music transferred from a PC or copied directly from a TV, DVR, VCR, DVD player or stereo system. The device stores audio and video on a 1.8-inch 20GB HDD. Digital-still images and video can be viewed on its 3.5-inch 320 by 260 color LCD screen. Audio can be heard through stereo headphones or the device’s single mono speaker.

The device won’t play Macrovision-protected prerecorded video, but it is upgradable to support DRMs that authorized movie-download sites it might support in the future, Brothers said.

The 8.5-ounce device decodes audio in the MP3, WAV, unprotected-WMA and PCM formats; decodes video in the MPEG-4, DivX, motion JPEG and WMV9 formats; and displays JPEG, GIF, TIFF, and BMP digital-still images. Files can be transferred from a PC via USB connection. The device features built-in MP3 audio and MPEG-4 video encoders. The device also doubles as a voice recorder and portable data-storage drive.

This month Apex plans an RF adapter that will stream the PMP’s music through a home or car stereo system at a possible $39.95, said Brothers. In 2005, Apex plans PMPs with higher screen sizes and HDD capacity, said national sales manager David Ficken.

In digital cameras, Apex completed the rollout of five new models, having shipped three SKUs in the first quarter and the other two in June. All are positioned as the market’s price leaders at select feature levels with availability in quantity and without sacrificing quality, said Ficken. Four models offer resolutions ranging from 1-megapixels to 4-megapixels; a fifth is a binocular/camera with 2.1-megapixel resolution. All feature built-in flash, USB port and SD memory-card slot.

The 3-megapixel DSC-3500Z features a 3x optical zoom at $129, $20 less than other models with these features, he continued. The 4-megapixel DSC-4500Z features 3x optical zoom at $179, $20 less than competing models. The BC-2100 binocular/camera features 10 by 25 optics, 8x optical zoom and 2.1-megapixel resolution at an everyday $99.99. Price leaders in this market, in contrast, start at $199 for a 2-megapixel model, $99 for 1-megapixel models and $59 for VGA quality, Ficken said.

In portable DVD players, the company is expanding its selection to four with the launch of two models with 7.1-inch and 8.4-inch color LCD displays. The $299-everyday PD-840 features an 8.4-inch screen, a new size for the company. It’s due in late summer. The 7-inch PD-710 ships in late July at an everyday $229. They join two carry-over models: the 6.6-inch PD-660 at $190 and the 5-inch PD-500, at $149.