Clarion Revamps Automotive Lineup

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Clarion turned over almost all of its aftermarket automotive SKUs at International CES, where the company expanded its selection of HD Radio-ready head units to seven from one, launched its first iTunes-tagging models, and expanded its selection of heads with built-in Bluetooth for hands-free use and stereo streaming.

The company also introduced a new graphical user interface (GUI) on touchscreen models.

In expanding its Bluetooth commitment, the company will offer eight models with the wireless technology built-in, all but one allowing for Bluetooth stereo streaming from a Bluetooth-equipped cellphone or MP3 player. The products include two multimedia (CD/DVD) head units and three multimedia/navigation systems.

One CD-receiver, one mechless head unit and one double-DIN head unit will also feature embedded Bluetooth in 2010.

In a few head units, Clarion will offer built-in Bluetooth at no price increase compared to similar Bluetooth-ready models in last year's line.

In HD Radio, the company offered one HD Radio-ready head unit in 2009 at $349 street price and will expand that to seven SKUs this year starting at a suggested $179. The add-on HD Radio tuner module retails for a suggested $129.

With the HD Radio expansion, Clarion is launching HD Radio-based iTunes tagging for the first time, offering it in six SKUs starting at $139.

Two other mechless head units at a suggested $349 and $229 feature back-panel USB Host port to control a connected iPod or other-brand MP3 player. The head units will control iPod-stored video streamed to rear-seat headrest monitors when an optional $60-suggested USB video cable is installed. The step-up model features built-in Bluetooth; the other is Bluetooth-ready.

A total of 15 automotive and marine head units are iPod and/or iPhone-compatible, the company said.

For several touchpanel-control head units, the company features only three or four front-panel hard buttons, with all other features — navigation included — controlled by an onscreen GUI.

Among six new in-dash single-DIN CD head units, the most advanced is the $249-suggested CZ500. It offers two-line display, iPod/iPhone USB port, built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and stereo audio streaming, and aux connection. It also features a separate visor microphone, iTunes tagging and is HD Radio and XM Radio-ready.

The $599-suggested double-DIN VX400, one of the new multimedia head units, features 6.5-inch touchpanel, built-in Bluetooth for hands-free and stereo streaming, and HD Radio-ready capability with iTunes tagging. It is also navigation-ready.

In multimedia/navigation units, three models with built-in navigation feature Bluetooth as well as iPod/iPhone USB ports. At a suggested $1,199, the flagship double-DIN NX700 features 7-inch motorized touchscreen, GUI and three front-panel hard buttons.

Clarion also launched three new overhead monitors, amplifiers, speakers and subwoofer.

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