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Digital Group Audio Eyes Expanded Distribution

Carlsbad, Calif. — CE startup Digital Group Audio (DGA) plans to take its first product, a portable iPhone/iPod Touch speaker system, to brick-and-mortar stores following an online launch earlier this year on its Web site and through

The company’s Livespeakr-branded $99-suggested portable is designed to securely hold the iPod Touch, iPod Classic and both generations of the iPhone without using interchangeable cradles. It’s unique in its combination of features, the company’s founders added. Key features include drivers that extend outward automatically when users rotate a docked device into landscape mode. Other key features include three-position table stand, rechargeable battery, RF shielding to prevent interference from the iPhone’s cellular radio, speakerphone capability and the ability to mute the music when a call comes in on a docked iPhone.

Unlike the competing models, however, the Livespeakr doesn’t recharge a docked device because it doesn’t incorporate Apple’s licensed 30-pin connector. Instead, it uses a minijack connection to a device’s headphone output to reduce cost and speed time to market, said cofounders Erik Groset and Robin DeFay. The product’s retail price would be $30 to $50 more if the company had licensed the connector technology, and availability would have been delayed until the summer had they run the device through Apple’s certification procedures, said Groset. The company, however, is licensed to use Apple’s proprietary connector on future products.

A notch in the portable’s cradle provides access to an iPhone, Touch or Classic charging port for use with the devices’ charging options.

The speaker system’s Class D amplifier is rated at 15 peak watts total. Its rechargeable lithium-ion battery operates for up to 14 to 16 hours on one charge. An AC adapter is included.

In a few months, the privately funded startup expects to expand the selection of compatible MP3 players and smartphones by including an adapter plate that would attach to other-brand protective cases designed for those devices.

The company also plans by year’s end to offer portable speaker systems designed specifically for the Palm Pre smartphone and another form Microsodt’s rumored next-generation Zune.

DGA has sufficient funding and a manufacturing partner to handle large orders from major retailers, DeFay said. The company also has the bar codes and product-liability insurance that retailers demand, the founders said.