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Kensington Expands iPod Dock Choices

Redwood Shores, Calif. — Kensington is expanding its presence in the iPod home-docking station market with the launch of its first amplified speaker system for iPods.

The company, whose first dock connects iPods to existing home stereo systems, also plans to expand its selection of wireless interfaces for car and home stereo systems.

iPod home docks, by far, represent the largest iPod accessory market, followed by car interfaces, said product marketing manager Giovanni Sena. To tap into the home-market opportunity, Kensington shipped its first iPod dock in the summer, a $79.95-suggested model that lacks amplifiers and speakers and is intended to funnel iPod-stored music through a connected home stereo system. In November, Kensington will follow up with the shipment of its first speaker-equipped dock, the XS-2000, at an expected everyday $159. It will be the industry’s first home dock to use NXT’s SurfaceSound flat-panel speaker technology, which slims down docking-station depth while delivering low distortion and a wide stereo sweet spot from a single bipolar full-range flat-speaker panel. The technology also effectively offers high efficiency because its decibel level doesn’t drop off as quickly with distance as it does with traditional cone speakers, NXT contends.

Sena contends the 7.2-inch by 16.2-inch by 3.9-inch device offers superior performance and volume levels compared to other models in the $149 to $179 price range, where he said most iPod amplified speaker systems are priced.

The XS-2000 will be the first iPod dock to accept standardized dock adapters that Apple is including with new iPod models, including the already available Nano, Sena said. The Apple adapters are supposed to “deliver the same experience” when consumers dock iPods in different brands of home docks, he explained. The Apple-provided adapters hold individual iPods in place while their 30-pin connectors are plugged into the companion Kensington connector. The Kensington docks accept the 30-pin connectors used by the Nano and other iPods, except the Shuffle. For the Shuffle and other brands of MP3 players, a stereo mini-jack connection is required.

Initially, the XS-2000 will be available at Apple and CompUSA stores, and Kensington’s Web site.

In February, Kensington plans to expand its selection of wireless interfaces to three from one. The current model at an everyday $79 plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter for power and transmits sound via FM frequencies from a connected iPod to a car stereo system. The two new models operate off an iPod’s internal battery and can thus be used to wirelessly connect with home and car stereo systems.

All three models use technology supplied by Aerielle to widen frequency response and stereo separation. Kensington has an exclusive arrangement with Aerielle for wireless iPod car interfaces, Sena said.

Like the current model, both new models will clip onto an iPod’s 30-pin connector, but the new models will be Kensington’s first iPod transmitters to be powered by a connected iPod’s internal battery. The $49-everyday Micro FM Transmitter promises to be the smallest model on the market. It transmits over three selectable FM frequencies.

The second model at an everyday $79 — the Digital FM Radio and FM Transmitter — offers the same features but also doubles as an FM radio with autosearch and four FM presets. FM stations will be heard through the iPod’s headphones. It will be the only such model with station presets, Sena claimed.

Kensington’s first iPod accessory was a noise-canceling headphone launched in 2004. The company, marketing in the United States for about 20 years, also sells laptop security devices, laptop input/output devices, laptop cases and power adapters.