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Kenwood Marks 30th Year In Car With 56 SKUs

Kenwood marked its 30th year in the car electronics aftermarket with a 56-SKU launch that includes its first two in-dash multimedia/navigation units with free lifetime Navteq Live Traffic service.

The lineup also includes the company’s first two iPod-controller receivers, or “mechless” receivers lacking CD or DVD transports.

The 56 products don’t include an installed Mobile DTV tuner, which was demonstrated at last year’s International CES but won’t be launched this year because, at an expected price of about $400, dealers said it would not generate much volume, said senior VP Keith Lehmann, who blamed the high cost of Mobile DTV chips.

Seven of the 56 new products are in-dash DVD-equipped navigation/multimedia head units, a category that the company said is growing in dollars despite overall industry contraction. They’re priced from a suggested $1,150 to $2,000. Four other DVD-equipped multimedia head units priced from $700 to $1,100 connect to an optional $600 hideaway Garmin navigation module.

The top-end navigation/multimedia head unit is the Excelon-series $2,000-suggested DNX9960, a double-DIN unit that offers Garmin navigation technology with lane assist, junction view, and 3D images of buildings and landmarks, many of which are photo-realistic. It also features Kenwood’s second-generation voice-control system, which delivers improved accuracy and faster response when controlling navigation and A/V functions as well as the functions and content of connected devices such as iPods and USB drives. The DNX9960 also features a front-panel touchscreen that lets users browse album art by swiping their finger across the display.

The DNX9960 and a non-Echelon double-DIN navigation/multimedia head unit, the $1,700-suggested DNX7160, are the aftermarket’s first in-dash navigation units offering free lifetime Navteq Live Traffic service, which delivers traffic information via FM sideband, Kenwood said. The free service is ad-supported and has been offered in select Garmin PNDs, Kenwood noted.

In iPod-controller receivers, the company launched the $500-suggested KIV-BT900 and $450-suggested KIV-700. Both feature 3-inch color display to show iPod- and iPhone-stored stored videos, which also appear on optional connected rear-seat monitors. Both play back audio and video stored on connected USB drives and USB-connected MP3 players, both feature 1GB of embedded flash memory to store content transferred through its USB input, and both are satellite radio- and HD Radio-ready. The $500 model adds built-in Bluetooth for hands-free dialing. The $450 model is compatible with a $180 hideaway Bluetooth module.

The new $240-suggested KDC-HD545U CD-receiver features built-in HD Radio with iTunes tagging and front-panel USB input to control iPods and iPhones and access the content of other USB-connected devices. It replaces a higher-priced HD Radio receiver and is satellite-radio-ready.