'iPodVision' Descends On Denver

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If the product selection at RetailVision is any indicator of what will take place at International CES in January, then CEA should consider changing its show's name to MacWorld-Vegas.

The Gartner event held here last month featured all things iPod. From cases to audio adapters, vendors vied to take advantage of this still stunningly hot category.

One company making a big splash at the show was mStation. It debuted its surround sound speaker system designed for use with flat-panel TVs. The speakers mount under the TV and includes an iPod dock, enabling video stored on the player to be displayed on the big screen. The speaker system will launch in December, said Marc Salsberry, mStation's creative director, with a price tag he described as well below that of the competition. SKUs for various size TVs are on the road map, but the initial version will accommodate up to a 42-inch screen.

The company also showed its Orb and Pod Pedestal iPod HiFi systems, which are now available. Each can accept either an iPod or other portable MP3 player.

Keyspan displayed several iPod accessories, including its upcoming TuneView remote control. Described by Mike Ridenhour, Keyspan's president, as the ultimate remote control for an iPod, the device allows the user to mine into their playlists using a small display on the controller. He expects it to ship later this year with a $179 suggested retail price.

Other RetailVision companies on the iPod bandwagon were Teledex, Battery-Biz, Fortune Grand, Falcon Safety and Speck.

In the GPS category Michelin, better known for its tires, travel guides and maps, unveiled its first U.S. consumer electronic product, a portable GPS that will start shipping in October with a $399 suggested retail price, said Vincent Pilloy, Michelin's marketing director. The company hopes the price point will hit a mass market price point and open the category to those who have wanted, but were unable to afford GPS.

The hardware and software were internally designed by the company with manufacturing being done by a third party in China. The model is already selling in Europe and Michelin has been making add-on technology to turn PDAs into navigation devices. Michelin will introduce an upgraded version during the first half of 2007 that will include a traffic service and a larger touch screen.

The company will leverage its relationship with its tire-making parent for several promotions that will take place at auto shows, Pilloy said.

The VOIP category was also well represented with US Robotics, RTX America and Zyxel showing products.

US Robotics was on hand with a brand new Model 9630 Cordless Skype dual VOIP phone that connects into a home's Wi-Fi network, said Tom Prizgoda, USR's director of global marketing. He also said the company would roll out its own pre-802.11n networking product later this year, hopefully in time for the holidays.

Corinex officially entered the U.S. market at RetailVision with the introduction of its AV200 High Definition Video Connectivity Kit. The base product in the line is a 200MBps powerline networking-based router and wall adapter. The device, which does not use the HomePlug powerline standard, is now ready to ship with a $229 suggested price tag. Accessories available under the AV200 line include a PowerPhase Coupler and Powerline noise filter.

Hard drive-maker LaCie expanded its Safe Drive external drive line to include a desktop edition. The drives are equipped with an embedded fingerprint sensor so only registered users can lock or unlock the drive from the computer. The drives come in 160GB, 320GB and 500GB capacities with prices starting at $79. The new model is available via pre-order from LaCie.


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