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Retailers View A Bevy Of New Products At RetailVision

Spring RetailVision filled a huge portion of the massive Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Conference Center here last month, with several manufactures taking advantage of the gathered retailers to debut new products.

Antec’s RetailVision assortment included new Energy Star-rated power supplies, an external hard-drive enclosure and a chassis for high-end gamers.

The power supplies will sell under Antec’s Earthwatt line range in power from 850 watts to 1,000 watts and are certified as 80 percent efficient. They were developed in conjunction with Energy Star and are expected to start shipping in May, said Mafalda Cogliani, Antec’s marketing manager.

The new Sonata series heavy-duty chassis, which just started shipping, are intended for high-end power users. Each weighs 50 pounds and comes with dual power supplies that generate 1,000 watts. One power supply works with the video card, and the other handles the PC’s remaining power needs. The case is heavily ventilated with four fans, Cogliani said, and carries a $499 suggested retail.

Also on hand was an enclosure for the DIY crowd to build their own external hard drive. The case, $70, can take any internal eSATA hard drives. The enclosure’s primary benefit is a built-in fan that allows the drive to work at its optimum temperature.

The U.K.-based navigation company Evesham Technology showed three new portable navigation systems that will ship into the U.S. market in late May. The units range in price from $179 to $229. The top-end models feature a 4.3-inch screen, SD card expansion slot, 2D/3D navigation modes, 1GB of flash memory and street level maps of the United States and Canada. The entry-level piece has a 3.5-inch screen and drops the expansion slot. The company hopes the low price point will help the devices grab share in the crowded U.S. GPS market, said Chris Mole, Evesham’s retail development manager. The company currently sells into the European market.

Accessories maker Gear Head announced at the show it would start shipping a 10.2-inch digital frame during the summer. Pricing was not available, but Chiaki Maeda, the firm’s product development manager, did say the current 7-inch frame would sell for $49 as a Mother’s Day special. The new frame will feature a six-in-one flash card reader and have onboard memory.

With the proliferation of cellphone and PDA spam and viruses in Asia, Panda Software is hoping to get ahead of any outbreak in the United States with the introduction of its Mobile Security protection software. Ignacio Ayerbe, Panda’s retail business development director, said the company will have the software bundled with a Nokia phone by June and hopes to have a version that works with the Windows Mobile operating system by the end of the year.

Ayerbe said cellphone and PDA spam and virus attacks have not yet hit the United States hard, but this will change as more people access the Internet from a mobile platform.

While the initial products will be embedded on cellphones, Panda does see an aftermarket where consumers can download the software from their carrier or buy it at retail and download it via their PCs.

Panda also showed off its 2008 line of PC security software. This will ship in July, Ayerbe said, and has special protection against Trojans delivering malware. Panda’s software uses artificial intelligence to detect odd behavior taking place in the computer and not for the malware code itself. Most Trojans today are able to hide themselves in a PC where they cannot be found by the security software. They then mutate into something dangerous. Panda’s product detects the mutation and then eliminates the virus, Ayerbe said.

Pricing for the three new titles has not been set.

High-end gaming peripherals maker Razer exhibited its new multimedia speaker system designed in conjunction with THX. The guts of the Mako gaming speakers, shipping in the third quarter with a $349 suggested retail, were designed by THX engineers using technology created especially for Razer, said Steve Hutt, THX’s advanced audio technology director. The two speakers and subwoofers create a circular soundfield around the gamer that delivers a surround sound environment.

Hutt said this was done by firing the sound downward instead of out, thus eliminating the uneven delivery of the sound to the user’s ear.

“The flat surface the speaker sits on actually distorts the sound delivery in front-firing speakers, but by aiming the sound downward, this is evened out,” Hutt said.

Another differentiating factor for the 300-watt system is how the power is divided. Instead of spreading it equally among the subwoofer and left and right speakers, the power individually powers the left and right tweeters and drives along with the subwoofer creating a five-channel environment with only three speakers, Hutt said.