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Parrot Debuts ‘Mechless’ Head Unit, Three Bluetooth Kits

Parrot is introducing a new “mechless” head unit (without a CD mechanism) that offers advanced Bluetooth capability. It is part of a line of five new Parrot Bluetooth products launching at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show here starting Oct. 30.

It also joins a new a new “mechless” head unit from Audiovox, also on display at SEMA (see story above), as more suppliers field their first CD-less head unit models.

The CD-less RK8200 is an AM/FM head unit with built-in memory to hold up to 300 MP3 tracks. Its front panel flips up to offer built-in iPod control, SD card slot, USB port and an auxiliary input. For built-in Bluetooth stereo and hands-free calling it has dual microphones with advanced noise reduction, and a phone book feature that “reads” back phonebook listings to the driver.

Parrot marketing VP Mike Hedge said the company decided to forgo the CD mechanism because “CD is going the way of the square wheel, so we’re moving ahead.”

The Parrot RK8200 also has a built-in 45×4 amplifier. It will ship in January at pricing to be announced.

Parrot said it is expanding its Bluetooth offerings in light of new legislation mandating hands-free calling for drivers in California and Washington, which takes effect July 2008. The new products all offer stereo music streaming, as well.

Two new car kits include the PMK 5800, a Bluetooth/FM modulator plug and play device that plugs into a vehicle’s 12-volt adapter. The PMK 5800 allows both hands-free calls and streaming music from a Bluetooth phone. It also has a mini-USB jack for a direct connection to a phone or other device. It lets music play through the car stereo that automatically mutes when making or taking a call. Shipping begins Nov. 1 at a suggested retail of $119.

A second Bluetooth kit called the MK6100 requires professional installation. It allows streaming music over the car’s radio. It has a removable OLED display that mounts on the dash to display music and phone files, and also has steering wheel controls. It is scheduled to ship this month at a suggested retail of $299.

These are joined by Parrot’s first motorcycle Bluetooth kit. Worldwide, the use of motorcycles and scooters is gaining with 40 million powered cycles on the road, including 6.5 million in the United States, said Parrot.

In response, Parrot developed the SK4000 with a microphone for the helmet and a control unit that sits on the handlebars. The device streams music and allows hands-free calling from the helmet. It also has a mini-USB jack for a direct connection to a cellphone or other device, and it features an FM radio. The helmet piece has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery with 10 hours of talktime. It will ship in the first quarter at pricing to be announced.

Also new from Parrot are two wiring solutions for installers and consumers that use existing steering wheel controls to control the Parrot CD3000 and CK3100 Bluetooth car kits.