LOS ANGELES — Two-way Internet access via satellite, MP3 players and other PC audio products, home networking systems, flat-panel displays and PC accessories of all shapes and sizes were just some of the hardware-related products that were showcased during Spring RetailVision at the Century Plaza Hotel last week.
The crossover between consumer electronics and computer products was never more evident than at this show, which also unveiled plenty of computer-only accessories and peripherals.
Satellite provider Pegasus Satellite Television, which specializes in providing satellite programming to consumers in rural areas, took advantage of RetailVision by debuting Pegasus Express. (See related story on p. 16.) This is a new nationwide high-speed, two-way Internet access service, which is powered by DirecPC. Anita Dorf, marketing manager, said the system needs no phone lines, has download speeds of 400Kbps and has unlimited residential usage. The hardware is priced at $499 retail, the installation cost is $199.99 and the basic monthly service fee is $69.95.
In MP3-related products First International Digital featured its irock! 680 portable unit, which the company claims offers patented, proprietary software called MP3K, a karaoke function that allows users to view the song's lyrics in synchronization with the music, said Aimee Volanski, digital audio marketing manager. With 64MB of removable, expandable memory, a built-in FM tuner and voice recorder, the irock! 680 should retail between $279. Also in the line are the 650, which will probably have a street price of $249 and the 620 that comes without a radio at $199. All will begin shipping immediately.
Archos Technology launched its Jukebox MP3-Recorder, what the company claims is the first palm-sized, real-time MP3 player and 6GB hard drive all in one. The unit allows MP3 recording from any audio source via a line-in jack and stores up to 10,000 minutes of MP3 music, 240 audio CDs, or 2,500 songs. And the Jukebox CD-MP3 combines a small, external CD-ROM drive and portable MP3-CD player all in one unit no larger than a CD player.
The Jukebox MP3-Recorder has a suggested retail of $399 and is set for June shipment while the Jukebox CD-MP3 has a suggested retail of $189 with a ship date of April or May.
TDK demonstrated its new portable CD-based MP3 player and CD digital jukebox during the show. Dubbed the MOJO, the device combines the storage capacity of CD-based MP3 players with the navigational flexibility of hard-disk-based devices. Available now the product has a suggested retail of $179.99.
Yamaha showed its high-performance TSS-1 Theater Surround System designed to deliver home theater sound experience to personal computers and portable audio video players. Mike Pearce, national accounts manager for the Yamaha Multimedia Products Division, said the TSS-1 delivers 3D surround-sound experience with built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoding. The system includes five satellite speakers, a subwoofer and dedicated amplifier with master volume and individual level controls. Estimated street price is $229.99 and is available now.
Vialta showed a highlighting its ViDVD player, a multi-function home entertainment and information systems that combines DVD/CD and enables consumers to surf the web through their TV. Charles Root, marketing VP of Vialta, said the deck is a multi-function player connects to a standard TV set and plays DVD, VCD, and CD formatted discs, as well as MP3 formatted ones and functions as a karaoke player. The ViDVD supports its proprietary ViAudio format, as well as Dolby Digital, DTS digital surround and MP3 standards. The deck is bundled with a wireless keyboard, has bundled content and is also Internet phone enabled and smart card enabled. The suggested retail is $299 and ships in June.
In the home networking area Xanboo demonstrated its "smart home" system designed to allow individuals to remotely view and control their homes or small businesses from anywhere, anytime, via the Internet. The system includes compact color video cameras with built-in motion detectors, as well as a range of sensors and control devices that are installed through a PC. The Xanboo system also has an event notification feature, which sends an alert to a user's e-mail address, pager or cellphone whenever a camera or sensor is triggered. Suggested retail for a fully configured system could range between $300 to $500, depending upon the features selected by consumers, said Paul Bologna, product manager. For instance a starter kit would be priced around $150, which would include a motion sensor, color video camera and other options. Additional features will be introduced during July, Bologna said.
Linksys featured the HomeLink 10M Phoneline Network PC Card, which lets notebook computer users share Internet access and other features via existing home phone lines. The PC Card connects notebook PC users to a 1 or 10Mpbs Home PNA network to share Internet access, files and printers, and to play multiplayer games over existing home phone lines. Available now pricing was not set as yet.
Belkin showed its wide-array of computer accessories, with its recently introduced Regulator Pro Silver Series of UPS products. The line is available in three models - a 350VA unit, a 500VA unit and a 650VA – which are specifically designed for the SOHO user. Available now, the suggested retails range from $799 to $119.99.
American Power Conversion (APC) highlighted its recently-introduced Back-UPS CS 350VA and 500VA uninterruptible power supplies designed for small business and corporate environments. Each product offers backup for Windows or Macintosh operating systems and come with a $25,000 lifetime connected protection policy and a two-year warranty. The estimated suggested retails are $84.99 for the 350VA and $129.99 for the 500VA model. Both units are available now.
And Lowepro featured an expanded Digital Resolution Series (D-Res) protective cases designed specifically for digital still or video cameras, electronic gear and accessories. The seven new products, all available now, include four pouches, a briefcase, a belt-pack, and a wallet for storing digital media. Suggested retails range from $9 to $62.