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Kenwood Makes USB Connection To Newer Android Phones

Long Beach, Calif. – Kenwood plans November and December shipments of the first seven aftermarket head units in its mainstream series, bringing USB control of music stored on Android 4.1 and later smartphones to all new CD receivers and the new digital media receiver (DMR).

The seven new models consist of four single-DIN CD receivers at suggested retails of $110 to $190, the $160 DMR, and two double-DIN DVD receivers at $480 and $530. All ship in November expect for the DMR, which ships in December.

The launch follows last month’s announcement that Kenwood would ship four 2015-model eXcelon-series CD and DVD receivers in November.

Companies are shipping some of their 2015 products in late 2014, senior marketing manager Scott Caswell explained, because “it allows the dealer to normalize their business and not buy more than they need from us in just three months in the spring.” In addition, he said, “the Christmas season and January audio sales are starting to increase, and having product earlier allows the dealers to capture more of this business.”

With the mainstream-series launch, Kenwood said all of its 2015 CD and DMRs would feature Android music by USB, or Android Open Accessory (AOA), which, with a free Kenwood app, lets the heads search for Android-stored music by artist, album genre and song title. The USB port also charges the Android phone.

Kenwood eschewed Android Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) to enable such search, said senior marketing manager Scott Caswell, because MTP takes about 37 seconds to start playing compared with eight seconds for AOA, In addition, MTP enables music searches only by such basic functions as play/pause and skip.

In its 2014 line, Kenwood head units also searched for music on USB-connected Android phones via an app, but the feature worked on pre-Android 4.1 phones, and it only enables searches by file folder and track name.

The new head units equipped with Bluetooth also incorporate AVRCP 1.4 to enable wireless selection of iPhone- and Android-stored music, but with only basic controls.

Also with the launches, Kenwood is:

–lowering the opening price of Bluetooth to $110 from $120;

–starting HD Radio at $100 instead of $150; and

–starting CD receivers with a steering-wheel interface at $110 instead of $130.

The lineup goes like this:

DVD receivers: The $480 DDX272 features iPod/iPhone USB, Pandora Internet Radio control for a USB-connected iPhone, SiriusXM-tuner control, three 4-volt preouts, five-band equalizer, 6.2-inch VGA touchscreen, rearview camera input and steering-wheel-remote input.

The $530 DDX372BT adds stereo Bluetooth, Bluetooth AVRCP 1.4 and Siri voice control.

Neither DVD receiver features AOA.

CD-receivers: All feature Android AOA and start with the $110 KDC-122U with front USB and auxiliary inputs, one rear/subwoofer RCA preout 2.5 volt, with 3-band equalizer, Drive EQ, steering wheel control capabilities.

The $110 KDC-162U adds iPod/iPhone USB and control iHeartRadio and Pandora Internet Radio on a USB-connected iPhone.

The $160 KDC-BT362U adds built-in Bluetooth with AVRCP 1.4, Siri voice control, variable-color LCD display, three 2.5-volt preouts, and three-band EQ.

The $190 KDC-BT562U adds aptX streaming over Bluetooth and SiriusXM-tuner control.

DMR: The $160 KMM-BT312U features Bluetooth, Android AOA, iPod/iPhone USB, variable color display, three RCA 2.5-volt preouts, three-band equalizer, Drive EQ, SiriusXM-tuner control, and control of iHeart and Pandora on a USB-connected iPhone.