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Philips Expands Networked Audio, Adds iPod Speakers, HD Radio

Philips Consumer Lifestyle is promoting an expanded selection of networked digital media adapters (DMAs), its first Made For iPhone docking speaker systems and its first HD Radio product for the home. The company also unveiled a trio of MP3 players.

Philips-brand HTiBs are marketed by Atlanta-based Philip & Funai (PNF) USA

In DMAs, Philips plans volume shipments in January of the $229-suggested NP2500 and $329 NP2900. The latter is the company’s first DMA with built-in amplification and speakers. Both network music players offer such new capabilities as color screens, playback of uncompressed PCM and lossless codecs, networking with Macs and streaming of computer-stored music through the computer’s iTunes application. Like the current $179-suggested NP1100, the new models also stream music from a PC’s Windows Media Player application, stream 10,000 Internet radio stations directly through a networked broadband modem and access Rhapsody’s streaming subscription service through a broadband modem. The three devices also stream Rhapsody-delivered subscription-download tracks from a networked PC.

Both models stream protected-WMA music files from a PC but not Apple-protected AAC files because Apple declines to license out its FairPlay protection technology, Philips said. Supported audio formats include MP3, protected WMA, unprotected AAC, uncompressed PCM, and the Ogg Vorbis and FLAC lossless-compression codecs.

Both new models also feature Full Sound technology to enhance the sound quality of compressed-music formats, and the NP2900 adds Living Sound technology to widen the sound stage delivered by its built-in speakers. An internal 32-watt RMS amplifier powers two front-firing speakers and two rear-firing speakers.

In iPod-docking speaker systems and music systems, Philips plans a quartet of new models. All are the brand’s first products to bear Apple’s Works With iPhone designation. All also feature USB port to control and play music from USB-connected MP3 players and from music-laden USB drives.

Of the four iPod-docking products, one is the $79-suggested DC-315 clock radio. The square-shaped model features a digital display on its mirrored front face, dual alarms, built-in nature sounds, and a rectangular ledge at the bottom that holds an iPod or iPhone and features control buttons, including buttons to control the up/down track selection of a connected iPod, USB-equipped MP3 player, or USB drive. It ships in the first quarter.

The $159-suggested DC-350, due in late December, is a compact one-piece executive docking speaker that uses Bluetooth to double as an iPhone speakerphone system. It also connects via USB to a PC to synchronize an iPhone’s contacts, music files and other data. Marketing manager Roy Carpenter called the device ideal for home offices or field offices because it enables users to participate in hands-free conference calls. It ships in the first quarter.

The $169-suggested DCH-250 speaker dock is the company’s first HD Radio product. It features FM and iTunes tagging but lacks AM. It also has a USB port and MP3 link to allow playback of music from other sources.

The $149-suggested DCM-240, also due in the first quarter, is iPod-docking music system that, like the current DCM-230, features AM/FM, MP3-CD playback and USB port, but the new models adds the Made For iPhone designation. Both one-piece units are half-moon-shaped with embedded dock on top.

A trio of new GoGear MP3 players, all audio-only models, include the square-shaped $39-suggested 4GB Raga with aluminum housing, three-line OLED display and rechargeable battery delivering 27 hours of playback. A sports version bundled with DLO-brand neoprene armband and sports-type headphones retails for a suggested $49.

The $49-suggested 2GB Spark will be the lowest-priced Philips MP3 player optimized to play back music from Real’s Rhapsody subscription-download service. The starting price point for Rhapsody optimization was $129. Like its predecessors, the Spark is bundled with one free month of Rhapsody’s subscription-download service and is compatible with a Rhapsody push service that, at the subscriber’s option, will automatically load up to 1GB of music to the device when it’s connected to a PC.

The third MP3 player, the Luxe, is the company’s first to double as a hands-free Bluetooth cellular headphone. It comes in 2GB, 4GB and 6GB versions at $89.99 to $99.99.