Sony’s 12-Volt High Tech Comeback

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Sony is taking the wraps off a number of high concept car audio products at CES.

It’s the first supplier to show Android and BlackBerry ready Pandora car radios. It’s revealing the industry’s first in-dash Blu-ray car radios. It’s launching a unique OE integration device + subwoofer + amp package. And it’s also supporting the new Sirius XM TiVo-type tuner. To prove its soft spot for car audio, Sony is also exhibiting for the first time in the car electronics wing of CES– the North Hall.

“This year we wanted to show the industry that we’re in car audio, we’re very bullish on where car audio will go in the coming years,” said Mike Kahn, director of Sony’s mobile music business.

Sony shows Pandora car radio control for Android and BlackBerry smartphonesWhile a number of leading suppliers offer Pandora control from the radio over an iPhone, Sony is the first to promise radios that can control Pandora on an Android or BlackBerry phone. It will use a Bluetooth connection to stream music to the radio from the Android or BlackBerry phones. The number of Android and BlackBerry users together outnumber iPhone users, noted Kahn.

Sony’s version of “PandoraLink” will be embedded in “multiple” head units later this year.

Four of Sony’s new head units will also work with a new XM tuner, SVX100, which adds a TiVo-like music buffer to the radio and eliminates the need for a special adapter. link

Sony claims that Blu-ray is fairly simple to include in an overhead monitor, but for an in-dash player, a lot of engineering is required. It is showing double DIN Blu-ray prototype decks to demonstrate Blu-ray’s capability in the car. The technology is difficult because “the disc spins faster, and it has a higher energy requirement,” but Sony is “deadly serious about delivering it,” even while some suppliers plan to skip Blu-ray and offer cloud storage, said Kahn.

Sony’s OE Integration system lets you add bass and an iPod or iPhone to your car’s factory sound system without removing the radio. It comes with a separate amplifier and a subwoofer and it has a digital signal processor with presets for different types of cars such as an SUV, sedan or pickup truck. It also has a cradle and connector for an iPhone or iPod. You also get a remote to change volume, sources and settings. The company wants to attract hip hop and R&B enthusiasts who are looking to add bass to their sound system in a relatively inexpensive way. The OE unit will require only 1.5 hours of installation and will cost less installed than the retail-only price of the JBL MS-8 ($799), said Kahn.

Sony's new car radios for CES include the XAV-622
Sony's XAV-622
Due in April from Sony are 3 double DIN AV head units with 50 percent brighter and higher contrast screens than offered last year. Sony now has front USB jacks for the first time. An XAV-622 with 6-inch screen is satellite and HD Radio ready with iPod video playback at about $449. An XAV-62BT adds built-in Bluetooth at about $499 and a 7-inch XAV-72BT has rear USB and Bluetooth at about $649. The two 6-inch models are about 10 percent less costly than last year’s models and the 7-inch model undercuts 2010 prices by about $100.

Funkmaster Flex will sign autographs at Sony’s CES booth on January 6.

Source: Sony Electronics

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