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GPS Takes Spotlight At SEMA

Las Vegas — GPS was one of the stars of the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) show, where members of the automotive specialty products business gathered Oct. 30 through Nov. 2 amid a stunning display of hot rods and performance vehicles.

The show typically attracts more than 125,000 industry members.

Magellan used the show to unveil its lowest-priced personal navigation device (PND) to date, the RoadMate 1200 at a suggested retail of $280. It has a slim, pocket-size design, 3.5-inch screen and pre-loaded maps of the United States. It ships in two weeks.

Panasonic launched its first PND and Raytel announced the first PND to “read aloud” text messages from a Bluetooth cellular phone.

Kenwood told TWICE it will show at International CES a low-cost A/V-navigation in-dash DVD/monitor at $1,000, or $400 below its current low street price. Shipping in March, the new CNX-5120 has a built-in Garmin user interface. It is a double-DIN unit with 6.1-inch fixed touchscreen and front-panel auxiliary-input jack. It has Bluetooth and USB capability and iPod control (requiring only the cable that ships with the iPod). It will be joined by a higher-end Excelon AV/navigation unit to be announced at CES.

One of the more radical announcements came from Mitek, known typically for its amplifiers and speakers, but at SEMA it unveiled a prototype of one of the most ambitious car audio front-seat systems that would read aloud email and would allow voice-recognition search of Internet radio.

The new front system, called Civita, will be one of the first to offer mobile WiMax and/or EV-DO cellular Internet access. It will also be the first to connect directly to the General Motors bus, rather than requiring reverse engineering, said Mitek.

Mitek will use a voice-driven search engine that permits complex verbal commands such as “Play me something by Frank Sinatra,” or “Make a playlist of 1960s jazz,” or “Make a playlist of 1977 Billboard hits,” allowing simple search and control of the Internet while driving, said Mitek. It may also be used to access podcasts, or newspapers and magazines and videos that can be streamed to rear-seat monitors.

Mitek said Civita, to be released in January, will eventually work with many types of car radios.

Mitek founder and CEO Loyd Ivey said at SEMA, “This is not another patch. This is new technology.” He also invited other suppliers to join Mitek in supporting the technology.

A simpler version of Civita will be sold to expeditors under the Avstarr brand.

Other new products at SEMA included low-cost CD players with built-in HD Radio. Dual showed a CD receiver at $119 with built-in HD Radio and multicasting and a front-panel auxiliary input, which just began shipping.

Jensen showed two CD receivers, including the HD5212 at a street price of $139 with built-in HD Radio, USB, SD card slot, iPod control cable, satellite radio capability and remote. It is expected to ship in December. A version for Wal-Mart called the HD 5112 with similar features but different cosmetics is now available at an estimated street price of $129.

Several HD-Radio OEM receivers for use by auto companies were also on display.

Other new products at SEMA included a $299 CD player with a built-in 3-inch LCD and Bluetooth from Valor, Magnadyne’s first 1-mile range security/remote start systems and new marine speakers from Sony.