Philips' fourth-quarter audio strategy will in-clude lower priced CD-recorders, the company's first flash-memory portable, and a product selection that's almost exclusively Philips-branded, said audio VP Andy Mintz.
Only a handful of Philips/ Magnavox-branded audio SKUs will be carried over this fall. (For details on Philips' video plans, see related story.)
Philips will turn over its entire CD-recorder lineup in September with shipments of lower priced versions that will add such features as:
The ability to record HDCD coding.
A jog dial and menu system to simplify recording.
A sampling-rate converter in all models compared to only one model in the current line.
Automatic recording-level control to ensure a consistent volume level when recording tracks from multiple CDs to one recordable disc.
And simpler CD-RW track erasing. Consumers will program the recorder to erase the necessary tracks automatically.
The planned step-up single-well CDR950 will be the company's first CD-recorder with a programmable automatic fade-in/out feature, the company added.
Philips also announced September shipments of its first shelf system with integrated CD-R/RW recorder. The FW930R will also feature a three-disc changer and dual cassette at a price to be announced.
Mintz didn't disclose prices for the company's four new component CD-R/RW recorders, which will replace a current dual-well model selling at an everyday $599, an entry-level single-well at an everyday $499, a step-up single-well at $599, and a $499 mini-size model for adding to minisystems.
Although Philips won't outline its solid-state audio strategy until July, Mintz said the company plans fall delivery of a single flash-memory portable that would comply with the voluntary requirements of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). More portables would come at a later date, as "we see a line logic," he added. In addition, "we'll look at MP3 in shelf systems and CD-recorders."
MP3 "has piqued a lot of national retailers' interest in testing the waters or jumping in with both feet," said Mintz. He also claimed that retailers are planning to divert the energy they devoted last fall to MiniDisc to solid-state portables this fall.
Though dealers have been "pleased" with initial MP3 sellthrough, he said, they have been even more pleased with CD-recorder sellthrough, which has kept Philips' dual-well in back-order since its launch.
"We'll never catch up with demand [for the current dual-well model] before September [when its replacement becomes available]," Mintz said. The supply situation, nonetheless, is better than it used to be. "In the first quarter, we were nowhere close." The new models go into production at the end of July or August.
Mintz expects one or two other suppliers to announce CD-recorder deliveries by the end of the year. Those suppliers would be in addition to Kenwood and Onkyo, which earlier announced plans to enter the market by year's end with dual-well models.
To stimulate demand for re-recordable CD-RW discs, retailing as low as $10 from Philips, the company has added CD-RW compatibility to a broader selection of products. All but one of the company's 12 current headphone CDs are CD-RW-compatible and carry a "CD-Rewritable compatible" logo.
A handful of CD boomboxes are also compatible, but next year, the majority of Philips' CD-boomboxes will be compatible, Mintz said.
Philips' current and recently introduced DVD-Video players are DVD-RW-compatible, and this year, the company is adding CD-R compatibility to all models. The new models will also play recordable DVD+RW movie discs when the technology becomes available, Philips said.
Philips also outlined plans to:
Reenter the receiver market after a lapse of about 18 months with the June shipment of its first Dolby Digital, non-DTS model at an expected everyday $399. Although targeted to audio buyers, Mintz also sees the product being retailed as a package with Philips video products, including DVD players.
The model, which will also be part of a home theater receiver/speaker package, will feature a digital audio line output to permit recording of audio from DVDs and video tapes to a CD-recorder. Philips' previous receivers were Dolby Pro Logic models available only as part of receiver/speaker packages.
Join TDK in delivering an 80-minute audio CD-R disc in the third quarter at a premium of a dollar or two more than Philips' current 74-minute discs, which retail everyday at $3.99 in singles. Final pricing hasn't been announced.
Deliver a CD-R three-pack at an everyday $9.99 in the fourth quarter. Philips also offers a CD-R 10-pack at an everyday $39.99.