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Audiovox Intros $159 ‘Mechless’ HD Radio And XM Direct2

Audiovox will unveil at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show a new $159 “mechless” car stereo receiver with built-in HD Radio but no CD mechanism.

The new mechless HD5212 will be marketed under the Jensen brand and joins several other new products from Audiovox, including an XM Direct2 tuner that is flash upgradeable and does not need a special smart cable for each vehicle.

The HD5212 receiver is one of the first head units to include built-in HD Radio plus iPod control and satellite radio capability at a low suggested retail of $159. The unit provides multicast reception and ships with an iPod cable. It also has a USB port to support most thumb drives, and an SD card slot.

With the HD5212, Jensen joins a growing number of suppliers planning or already shipping CD-less head units including Alpine, Clarion, Blaupunkt and Parrot (see below).

Audiovox is also adding HD Radio to its current double DIN DVD/monitor, the Jensen 9022. The new version has been upgraded to include built-in navigation and is expected to ship in February at a suggested retail price of $1,199.99.

The new VM9022HDN also offers iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, SD card reader and satellite radio capability. It ships with a built-in 60×4 amplifier and has an integrated center channel rated at 40 watts mono.

Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone said the company will offer a third HD-Radio product in the next sixth months.

“HD Radio, from our perspective is gaining some momentum — not necessarily yet at the consumer level, although we’re seeing signs that the consumer is becoming a little more aware of HD. We’re looking at it as a technology that brings a good solution to the end user. We’re proceeding cautiously and we’ll look at how we do on the three models we’ll introduce over the next six months.”

In satellite radio, Audiovox began shipping this month the XM Direct2, which supplies XM reception for many aftermarket radios but does not require a separate smart cable for each brand, as did the original XM Direct tuner. It therefore reduces dealer inventory.

Instead the XM Direct is flash upgradeable and can be programmed to provide XM reception to radios from Alpine, Clarion, Eclipse, Jensen, JVC, Kenwood, Panasonic, Pioneer and Sony. If the user buys a new car radio in the future, the Direct2 can be programmed to work with the new model provided it is from a participating supplier.

To program the Direct2, the installer attaches it to a PC running Audiovox software and downloads programming for a specific radio to a USB flash-programmable memory chip in the Direct2. He then adds a harness. The unit comes with an XM MiniTuner — a portable subscription that can be shuttled to a home or portable device — and a universal adapter kit and cable.

The XM Direct2 has just begun shipping at full kit suggested retail of $129.

Audiovox is also testing the new Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) market with the Anyware NVX3000PC. Ultra Mobile PCs are small tablet PCs (bigger than a BlackBerry but smaller than a sub-notebook) that offer the computing power of a notebook PC. Users can download movies to the device and connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. The unit also serves as a full fledged PC that is Windows Vista/XM compatible. Audiovox claims its UMPC is the first to offer GPS turn-by-turn directions. It also announces the street names for upcoming turns and adds Bluetooth connectivity.

The NVX3000PD has a 7-inch screen, 30GB hard drive and SD card slot.

The product will soft launch at SEMA and is available this month online at a suggested retail of $1,499.

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