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w w w. m o b i l e e l e c t ro n i c s n e w s. e u

IN THIS ISSUE Tracking update Full system round-up Expert help Q&A and install guide Latest news Products and industry gossip

Next generation Kenwood unveils its new network unit + The 2013 range revealed See page 18


Expo report

Show news and pics inside

DAB head units

Parrot review

Digital radio in the dash

The Asteroid Smart tested

£25k Merc install Perfect sounds from Car Radio Skipton

For more industry news and features, go to

APRIL 2013

EDITOR’S COMMENT Lessons from MEN Expo When I wrote this column for last month’s issue, the MEN Expo was yet to take place, but now we’re celebrating with a full report on the event (see p12), and a chance to reflect on everything that happened across the two days. As ever, the aim of the show was to provide a platform for distributors, manufacturers and dealers to come together, see new products, discuss industry matters and seek out opportunities. It should be an event that we can all take something away from, and looking back, this is what I took from it personally: Those who want to make their businesses work are out there It’s encouraging to see people making the effort to come down to the Ricoh Arena, walk the aisles and attend the various seminars. Everyone who exhibited at the Expo reported good interest in what they were showing, with enough orders on the spot to make it worth their while, and also some good leads to follow up afterwards. Feedback is good Everyone had an opinion on the show, with comments on what worked, suggestions on how things might be improved, new features added and so on. Again, this shows the importance of the Expo in people’s minds, and that the industry cares enough about their individual businesses to get the most from it. If you have an idea, let us know. There are still exciting products We all got into this industry because we love car audio and electronics, and from the items on display at the Expo there is no need for this feeling to go away. Who wouldn’t want to play with Kenwood’s new network product (see p18), or the new Parrot Asteroid range (see p38)? There is still innovation in the aftermarket, and that means opportunity. These are just a few of the things that struck me about the two days, and hopefully you came to a similar conclusion too. Of course, I did learn some other things,

such as free curry and free drinks should only be enjoyed in moderation, I’m not as good on the roulette table as I had led myself to believe, and when you head off from the show and drive back from Coventry to Essex, make sure that your colleagues’ car keys are not in your bag. But these are all stories for another time. Perhaps buy me a drink at next year’s Expo and I’ll tell you about them. Enjoy the issue! Chris Anderson Managing editor,


Contact all the team on: Tel: 01268 754897 Fax: 01268 754429 Charlotte Body PUBLISHER Tel: 01268 754897/07903 944666

Peter Johnson ART DIRECTOR Tel: 01268 754897

Chris Anderson MANAGING EDITOR Tel: 07553 564998 email: Jake Gaskin Sales/Events assistant Tel: 01268 754897 Sean Rice SENIOR DESIGNER Tel: 01268 754897

Sophie Belcher Production/Events Tel: 01268 754897/07530 876727 Contributors: Adam Rayner: Martyn Williams: Andy Mills (Millsy): Creative Media Ltd. 318c High Road, Benfleet, Essex SS7 5HB.

Stock images, unless otherwise stated, are obtained via If Creative Media publish any supplied text or photographs by way of contribution to the magazine, you automatically and hereby grant Creative Media a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and licence to use, reproduce modify, publish, translate, create derivative works from and distribute such text or photography into any from, medium or technology now known or hereafter developed. In addition, as between you and Creative Media, you assert and waive any and all moral rights in such text or photography. The views and opinions expressed by any contributors (including advertisers) to the magazine are not necessarily those of the magazine and should not be taken as such.

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Digital radio news 10

The latest developments from the world of digital radio

Connects2 update


Tracking systems


Meet the dealers


The company launches its new and improved website Here’s what the manufacturers are offering right now We catch up with Sounds Alarming in Welling, Kent

vehicle’s available from UK Stock vehicle’s available from UK Stock Choice switches including including wireless Choice ofof wireless Choice ofswitches switches including wireless Choice of switches including wireless

36 10 MEN Expo report

Photos, news and gossip from the industry show of the year



Product review




Product news


Installer guide


Adam Rayner tackles one of the new Parrot Asteroid units Got a business or install query? Maybe we can help

The latest aftermarket kit, from skinny JL subs to JVC MirrorLink units

Industry interview 18

Kenwood’s Adam Handley and Mike Edwards talk us through the new range

An in-depth look at the new SmartStart system from Directed


Mercedes demo car 20

Car Radio Skipton built a Mercedes with £25,000 worth of kit




Business focus


Digital radio head units


What you can learn from big multi-national companies

A round-up of models with DAB tuners built-in

MEN directory

Numbers and websites for manufacturers and suppliers


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Is Apple moving to in-car? A patent application from the iPod maker and a team-up with Ferrari suggests it might be With smartphone integration – and the use of devices such as tablets – becoming more commonplace in the car, it makes sense for the manufacturers of these products to get more involved. Apple has a history of looking at a specific market, such as smartphones, then moving in and cornering it, but could it do the same for in-car? There may be plans in the works, as seen in a recent patent application, and also a new partnership with Ferrari. The patent concerns a car mounting system for a tablet, which is magnetic, and can be positioned on the dash or an overhead console. The tablet ‘clicks’ into place, with a sensor switching it to ‘car

mode’, where it can accept voice commands for the navigation or audio systems, or display the view from a reversing camera. It even uses multiple magnets to shield against a magnetic field. While the patent was only published at the end of February, it is dated August 31, 2011. Time will tell if the patent is accepted, or if Apple will proceed with such a product. And at the Geneva Motor Show last month, Ferrari announced that its 12-cylinder FF will include two iPad minis built into the headrests for rear passengers, and Siri voice command for its entertainment system. Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero de Montezemolo said there

General Motors

would be more collaboration between the two brands, and it’s interesting to note that former Apple executive Eddy Cue has recently joined the car company’s board of directors. But there has always been a link between Apple and cars, as the late Steve Jobs would quote Henry Ford to illustrate his desire for innovation. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” was the phrase he would use, adding that people only imagine based on their experiences, and would never ask for a car – or the first iPod – until it was presented to them. We wonder what they have planned.

Robot Car

In-car 4G

Self-driving aftermarket?

General Motors – which presides over a number of car brands – has announced that it will be including 4G as standard in many of its 2014 cars and trucks. This only applies to the US at the moment, where 4G is more established, but with such a major vehicle manufacturer taking the technology seriously,

Researchers at Oxford University although is yet to be tested on have developed what is actual roads. Professor Paul essentially an aftermarket Newman of the university’s self-driving kit, demonstrating it department of engineering on a Nissan Leaf. The so-called science puts the costs at ‘Robot Car’ works by memorising £5,000, but believes that regular journeys, such as the with more affordable sensors commute or school run. Once it could be driven as low as it has collected enough £100 over the next few years. data, it will then offer to self-drive the route for you. The system – using lasers on the front of the car and a camera on the roof to Our product news build a 3D image of the section is on p42. But journey – is said to be don’t just skip to the back, cheaper than what Google there’s lots more in-between! is currently working on,

it will be interesting to see where this leads. The service will be directly integrated into the car’s electrical system, with an external antenna, so drivers would not need their smartphones. As 4G is around 10 times faster than 3G, with simultaneous voice and data connections, it is thought that network providers may provide services specifically for in-car. Pricing has not been If you have company developments, disclosed, but embedded news or thoughts to tell the trade, why connectivity rather than not let us know? Email information via smartphone is a and hi-res images (300dpi) to big step.




DIARY /// Connects2


Free from Connects2

Wed 3-Sun 7 Gadget Show Live NEC Birmingham Everything from home theatre and car audio to games and simulators – all under one roof.

Recently launched by Connects2, and available as a free download from its website, is the company’s new catalogue and installation guide. This features the latest product information, from fascia adaptors to connector kits, with all of the fitting guides you could ever need. New items include the SWC.2 interfaces, CTASTEROID lead for helping Parrot Asteroid head units work with steering wheel controls, and also the Infodapter range.

Also released is an A2-sized steering wheel control integration wallchart – a handy reference for your workshop, so you can see instantly which adaptor you need to fit which specific car. Contact your account manager to arrange postage. Connects2 0845 257 5588,


Parksafe Automotive

New to PPA

If you went to the MEN Expo last month, you may have seen a familiar face on the PPA Distribution stand – as of March 1, the company had employed Lee Preston as its northern sales manager. Lee brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked at Midbass, Armour Auto and Vestatec. At PPA he will be tasked with finding new accounts and looking after existing customers. “We are extremely excited about having Lee on board due to his expertise, knowledge and experience,” said PPA managing director Krupal Patel. Other changes, Giselle Shah from invoicing/sales will be filling in for accounts and finance manager Poonam Patel while she is on maternity leave. PPA Distribution 0207 993 8889,

Tue 9-Thu 11 Commercial Vehicle Show

Parksafe offers

There were some great show offers at last month’s MEN Expo, including several from Parksafe. But if you didn’t make it to the show, you’re in luck, as a few of the offers are still under way. For example, purchase five sets of the new daytime running lights and get one set free – this product consists of energy-efficient LED lamps, suitable for 12V and 24V operation, and are both dimmable and paintable. The lights are shown here in the display stand, which is also available when you place your order. Call the number for details. Parksafe Automotive 01773 746591,

The largest and most comprehensive road freight transport event staged in the UK, with over 100 stands.

May Thu 9 FCS Comms Installer 13 Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel, near Meriden Topics for this year’s event will include updates on the FITAS training course and its partnership with City & Guilds. It’s at a new venue too. Fri 24-Sun 26 Modified Nationals Peterborough Arena & Showground One of the first major modified car shows of the year, with club stands, manufacturers and a sound-off. Tickets available now. Weekend and VIP passes include entry to nightlife events.

JuNE Sat 15-Sun 16 The Supercar Event Dunsford Park Choose a supercar from a selection of many and then be driven around the track. A charity event, with all proceeds given to the Children’s Trust.

Four Masters

Big day out The annual Four Masters day took place towards the end of February at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon. This year’s theme was ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, with a full review of the distributor’s 2012/13 activity, and Four founder Brian Parton turning up on his son’s toy horse, wearing a cowboy hat. The good, bad and ugly elements of last year were then discussed, with generally positive news that saw an increase in customers at all Four Masters stores, and in the value of equipment installed. Areas for potential growth, new products and giveaways were also revealed, with a Land Rover off-road demonstration during

NEC Birmingham

July Thu 11-Sun 14 Goodwood Festival of Speed & Moving Motor Show Goodwood Motor Circuit, West Sussex July 11 sees the Moving Motor Show take place, with the 20th edition of the Festival of Speed following after, and a special display to mark 40 years of the Porsche 911. the break. One idea for a promotion in 2013 is for two identical cars to be taken to shows, one with an upgraded system and one without, and consumers invited to guess which has the aftermarket kit for a chance to win great prizes. Four Masters 0800 652 5125,

Sun 21 The Scottish Car Show Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh This year is the show’s 10th anniversary, with car clubs, stunt shows and other attractions, including an EMMA sound-off. 7


Putting theory into practice Experiencing the issues of setting up in ‘new media’ for myself

Andy MIlls is a former editor of MEN and industry journalist

I may still be a young pup in some of your eyes (well, possibly), but I’ve nonetheless spent a fair length of my working life in the automotive media world. It gives me the belief, rightly of wrongly, that I know what I’m talking about in that particular field. From writing and editing directly for magazines, helping to organise car shows, generating content for car manufacturers, and so on, there’s a certain amount of knowledge I’ve accumulated, some of which I occasionally think is useful to share with you. But I had a realisation recently that while giving advice to independent dealers in particular about how to market themselves and publicise what they do, I may be missing a crucial point. Anything I’ve done has been with strong backing, whether a well-known magazine, or a globally recognised manufacturer. Independent dealers don’t necessarily have that kind of support to fall back upon when striving to get their messages across. This dawned on me in particular when I decided to start my own blog (you can see it at Essentially, it’s the first time I’ve been ‘on my own’, with no established following to fall back on. And I can tell you now… uptake is slow.

Until people know about your blog (or your website), they’re unlikely to find it very easily

Contact Andy on 8

My idea for doing the blog was to provide an unrestrained outlet for my enthusiasm about cars and car culture, rather than any financial gain, but I still have a desire to get the name of the website known… who knows, one day it might be cool to see someone with the name of my site as a sticker on their car. Similarly to dealers, if cars are featuring your stickers, then you’ve probably got a pretty strong customer base. But in this world of ‘new media’, which I often cite as being a crucial element for dealers to engage in, there are a number of difficulties that I can see. In the first month of my blog, here is what I’ve found, both the problems and, in some cases, the solutions. Financing: Many dealers will have already invested in a website, and a blog should be something you can add to that. I used Wordpress, as I was familiar with how it worked and it’s well-respected. However, to register a .com address and have it hosted for the first year costs around £170, including buying the design template for the site. Not much you can do about that – and if you need the help of a web designer, that means more expense.

Promotion: While Wordpress has certain ways of promoting your blog, generally speaking you’ll struggle to get much pick-up. The first signs in the growth of visitors came the moment a complementary Facebook page was started. Until people know about your blog (or your website), they’re unlikely to find it very easily. Facebook has easier access to potential followers who you can promote your blog to from time to time. Limits: I realised pretty early on that I wasn’t so hot on things like Twitter or building a YouTube channel, both things I felt useful to link to the blog. Fortunately I was keen to work with someone who knows more about these things. As my blog is all about fun, I’m especially glad to be doing it with a mate. If it was for my business though, I may have been tempted to rope in an employee. Sometimes the extra help may cost you – for example, I would quite like a cool logo, but I’m probably going to have to pay a designer to create me one that I’d be happy with. Content: When you have a dedicated Facebook page, you can see the impact any post you make has, and it’s the same on a dedicated blog site. In general, content I’ve created originally gets a better response than things I’ve shared, presumably because people like seeing something new. That’s fine by me, but unfortunately it takes a lot of time and, unless you’re an installer posting new work up every day, it’s going to be difficult to keep up. The solution I have is to spend my time creating less numerous but more original blogs. It also means you’re less likely to get into any copyright issues that using the wrong picture may entail. Focus: Being early days in my blog, I’ve been keen on getting plenty of content online for people to read through. But at times, I’ve lost a bit of perspective about what I want the blog to be about and how I want people to feel when they’re reading it. If you’re posting on your company’s site, then you need to make sure you’re ‘on brand’ – don’t be tempted to post a picture of a chavvy showgirl if you’re aiming at high-end customers, for example. Ultimately, I’m currently feeling that having this blog, my Facebook page and Twitter account is a lot of effort for very few readers. I could understand how dealers who start off with these things could easily give up in the early stages. But, I’ve also noticed that even at this stage it’s interesting to see what blogs or posts people like, which for a business could be a great bit of customer insight. If nobody looks at your blog on a single DIN head unit, but 30 people read one on iPod integration, it’s going to be a good hint as to what you should concentrate on in your shop. Regardless of followers or views, though, I’ll keep going, as it’s a great outlet for enthusiasm, and no doubt I’ll learn some details about new media that may hide themselves from the outside. Perhaps I’ll bore you with those at some point in the future.



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Digital Radio UK’s Sam Bonham tunes us in to the latest developments

Promo material for Digital Radio UK could be seen at the recent MEN Expo

How to take advantage of digital radio


he independent in-vehicle sector is a tough place to be at the moment. A declining UK economy, growing internet sales and a fading consumer electronics market has seen in-vehicle aftermarket sales fall over the past few years. But the recent MEN Expo was the best I’ve been to yet. There was a great buzz in the room, with retailers and manufacturers hatching plans and doing good business. So are things on the up for the independent sector? Well, as I left the MEN Expo, I was struck by a few things. Firstly, digital radio is a silver bullet for the in-vehicle aftermarket. It is the good news story that could take MEN readers – the proactive manufacturers and retailers in the independent sector – back into the good times. There is an opportunity to convert 20 million vehicles to digital radio, and those people who take advantage of this will be the ones who benefit. The second thing I realised was how critical the government’s tick mark is going to be for those of you who want to take advantage. For manufacturers this means the product tick mark. A government-owned consumer-facing logo will be launched this year, promoting quality products that will get drivers through a digital radio switchover. The criteria for manufacturers to use this mark have been launched, and manufacturers can plan to use it, starting now! 10

For installers and retailers, the government mark means the Digital Radio Installation Accreditation Scheme for services. This logo will signpost consumers to good installers. It will help drive sales and ensure that the independent sector does not get left out. During the MEN Expo, almost every retailer who attended came to the Digital Radio UK stand and asked about the Installation Accreditation Scheme. The IMI has set up a training course which installers can take, in order to meet the criteria to use the digital radio tick mark. It’s cheap to take the module and, once the tick mark is launched (November 2013), it will help promote your business and give consumers confidence. It seems clear to me that those retailers, installers and manufacturers who understand the digital radio opportunity also understand the significance of a tick mark scheme for products and services: • It marks out quality digital radio products, as well as installers and retailers • It will have credibility and will be policed by the government • It will be promoted on national TV and radio by broadcasters • It is being launched at the end of this year I also realised that, if independent retailers do not react to the opportunity that digital radio offers now, then others will. The potential market for digital radio is massive and the opportunity is vast, so high street

retailers, vehicle franchises and other periphery organisations can benefit from digital radio too, but installers need to focus their energy on digital radio and play to their strengths. Where the independent sector has a competitive advantage is that it is very highly skilled when it comes to installation. Independent retailers are better placed than anyone else to fit digital radios and antennas into complex cars. So get involved – here are a few ideas of things you could do in your area: • Use our point of sale (leaflets, factsheets, 5ft D Love cutouts, online postcode checker) • Sign up with the IMI for the installation scheme ( • Promote your services locally (we’re running radio ads, find out when they’re running on your local commercial station and promote yourself straight after ours) • Compete on your skill-set, not just on price (this is your competitive advantage) • Research your local content and use it when talking to customers • Approach vehicle franchises to be their specialist digital radio installer

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Kenwood drew visitors in with its F1 simulator

The Expo factor Last month saw the industry’s biggest trade show – the MEN Expo – take place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. With product launches and seminars, there was plenty to see and do The MEN Expo takes place every year, and is the chance for various brands, distributors, traders, dealers and installers to come together under one roof. Many companies use the show as an opportunity to launch new products, with special stand offers for those who attend. To find out what is new in the industry, get the insider info you need to give your business a boost, and generally recharge your enthusiasm, there is no better place. This year the Expo was held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, over two days – from Tuesday, March 5 to Wednesday, March 6. Special entertainment was provided on the Tuesday evening, with exhibitors and those visiting getting to enjoy free drinks and curry, test their luck in the casino, and join in with 12

some very lively karaoke. There were also seminars hosted by Digital Radio UK (DRUK), Celsus and Ifitstuff, giving important news and updates, and generally providing advice to push business. Generally, those who exhibited reported lots of interest from showgoers. Mick Barber, managing director of Parksafe Automotive, has always been a big advocate of the event, often attributing much of his business success for the rest of the year to displaying his newest products here and taking orders. It seems that this year was no exception. “I believe it is important to inform your readers of the success of the show, and as a supplier demonstrate that the attendance resulted in an overwhelming interest

in our product range,” he says. “It is not the quantity of the people attending, it was how you handled every enquiry, and demonstrated and explained the product to close those extra sales – and I have to say, we did.” Likewise, Armour Automotive’s marketing manager Mike Smith reported similar interest. “In attending the MEN Expo, the hope is that the volume of visitors would allow Armour to showcase a vast array of new product introductions to as many dealers, installers and business partners as possible,” he says. “Perhaps the volume of visitors wasn’t what exhibitors would wish for, but the quality of those that attended was good, and the Armour stand was busy throughout the two days.”


Bringing you all the major brands 2013

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• Double DIN with bluetooth • Direct iPhone / iPod control • Front USB & Aux in • 3 Pre-outs • Variable illum.

QFC : 10830





• 6.1” touchscreen • Front USB • Bluetooth • AV in / out • iPod & Android control QFC : 10862 • SWRC • 2 Pre-outs




CDX GT260/264MP


• Front Aux in • Red or green illumination • Pre-out


Red : 10491 Grn: 10492


• Front Aux in • Red or green illumination • Pre-out

AVH 2500 BT


• 6.1” touchscreen • Rear USB • Bluetooth • 2 AV in / out • iPod & Android control • SWRC • 3 Pre-outs

QFC : 10684

£199.50 iPod


KD R53 Red : 9924 Grn : 9925

£39.99 Aux



• Front USB & 2 Aux in F+R • iPod control • 2 Pre-outs • Red illumination

QFC : 9818





CDE 170R / RR / RM


• Front USB & Aux in • iPod control • 1 Pre-out • Red illumination

• 4 × 50w Red : 10774 • Front USB & Aux in Amber : 10773 Green : 10772 • 2 Pre-outs • Amber, Red or green version

• Mechless • Front USB & Aux in • A2DP music streaming • iPod & Android control QFC : 10861 • SWRC



QFC : 9942





CDE 173 BT

• A2DP music streaming • Front USB & Aux in • iPod & Android control • SWRC

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£67.85 Dealer Net



DEH X8500BT QFC : 10778


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QFC : 10679



The Parrot girls gave the Expo some glam

New Sony on Armour’s stand

Motormax pulled in the showgoers

Armour had new Focal products

Parksafe’s Mick Barber with the MEN team

Among the new products on show from Armour was the Focal DSA500RT active digital bass solution – which won an Innovation Award at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year – the latest cradles and DAB aerials from Autoleads, the 2013 ranges from Kicker 14

Demo cars galore

and Sony, plus new security items and releases from the Dension and iO brands. “With over 3,500 catalogue lines in Armour’s portfolio, it is difficult to represent everything, so Armour chooses to focus on the key product introductions, giving an insight into

James Mather launches new tech

what we will see in the coming months,” Mike adds. “This strategy paid off, as visitors found it easy to navigate around the concession-style stand layout, with clearly identifiable market-leading brands. Overall, it was a good show representing an industry that needs and

Midbass made some noise

Sponsors Kenwood with the MEN team

Time to relax and catch up with the trade

Grom Audio enjoyed the show

Tuesday nightlife... and is

thrives on communication, development and interaction between manufacturers, distributors and resellers.” Headline sponsor Kenwood also reported a worthwhile event, with lots of interest on its stand thanks to an F1 simulator, with the best lap times of show visitors posted for all to see. Its full product line was on display too, with lots of attention surrounding the new DNN9230DAB network device, which was kept behind a clear panel, teasing onlookers who would then be required to ask about it. No doubt,

they were glad they did when they found out what it could do. And it wasn’t just manufacturers or distributors in attendance, with Car Audio Security, Celsus, JVC, Parrot and Midbass among those with sizeable stands. Other companies offering ways for installers to promote their businesses were present too – with training help from the FCS (Federation of Communications Services), online assistance from, and learning about digital radio as a growth market direct from DRUK.

that Gordon Dutch?

In fact, DRUK’s presence was felt all over the show, thanks to the distribution of D Love cutouts, to be found on the stands of the companies supporting this growing medium. So did you attend, and did you find it worthwhile? All feedback is gratefully received, whatever you might have thought, so if you have an opinion let us know. Otherwise we look forward to seeing you again next year for another exciting show. More info at 15


On the stands

Here’s what our exhibitors had to say at the Expo



Midbass Distribution




The latest cruise control, speed limiters, heated seats and reversing sensors were on display from AVS, and a chance to show off the Gemini brand, which it started distributing last year. Alpine launched its TuneIt app to the UK market, allowing you to adjust a head unit settings via smartphone. The Peugeot RCZ demo car from Alpine Europe made it over for the show too. “Expo was again good for us, and gave us the time to explain the products and technology that we just don’t normally get,” Keith Holness, Alpine.

AntennenSystem UK

Lots of DAB aerials here, including an interior active-amplified-on-glass version, an exterior active-through-glass antenna, and a new separate splitter with remote amplifier.

Armour Automotive

Armour had many of its brands on display, including Autoleads, iO, Dension, Focal and Kicker. As a UK Sony distributor, there was a taste of the 2013 head unit range, with the reintroduction of the Code Alarm brand, and new Med and Firstech products, on the security side.


ECU remapping is not only good for power, but also economy – BHP UK showed how it could help dealers offer this, along with hybrid turbo conversion kits, and services to the diesel injector and pump remanufacturing industry. “We found the Expo a great show, with an opportunity to reach the exact customer base that we are targeting,” Fran Shah, BHP.

BRG Developments

An exciting show for BRG, which launched its new range of power distribution accessories, for home and car audio, the off road and recovery industries, and many more.

Car Audio Security

Lots of great new demo cars on the CAS stand, with JBL, Infinity and Orion among the brands pushed. Many of the staff had their iPhones out, demonstrating the SmartStart app from Directed.

Car Electronics

Plenty to see on the CEL stand, with part of the space given over to Pioneer, and a huge display of Fusion products. Pioneer launched its new AppRadio update for iPhone 5 at the show.


Dynamat was a focus for UK distributors Celsus, with half a classic Mini covered in the stuff, but there were also the new slim JL Audio subwoofers and digital radio products to enjoy.


The latest handsfree car kits, parking sensors and vehicle tracking systems were on display, as well as another helping of the new Parrot Asteroid models, with some tempting offers for the trade. 16

The speed limiters were the main push for Cobra at the Expo, with some impressive savings offered to companies in terms of fuel costs. We were also told to expect a tracking update soon. All manner of connector kits and the new Infodapter were on display from Connects2, with a nice display of Beat head units. Its new catalogue was launched too.

Digital Radio UK

Vibe was one of the names pushed on the Midbass stand to recognise the brand’s 20th anniversary, with new speakers, subs and amps from the flagship BlackDeath range among the new products. The Expo was the perfect opportunity for Motormax to push its Navinc range of navigation and in-car multimedia products, featuring dropdown and headrest monitors, and more.

It was hard to escape the presence of Digital Radio UK, with its D Love mascot on many of the stands. The seminar, advising dealers on getting involved, was useful too. “The Expo was a worthwhile couple of days. Digital Radio was one of the key talking points, and we had considerable interest,” Sam Bonham, Digital Radio UK.


Electronics Worldwide

Parksafe had a big stand with lots of show offers and a wide range of new products. The PS440D parking sensors and DVR001 drive-view video recorders were among the items.

Electronics Worldwide was on hand to show the latest in-car security from its Falcon and Sniper Automotive brands, with entertainment products from DE Multimedia.


The Federation of Communication Services (FCS) pushed its revamped FITAS scheme – now a two-day course, with all revision and the exams at a single venue. “We had a great show, we met some really interesting people, and we got the sense that this industry definitely is doing stuff and going places,” Chris Pateman, FCS.

Fraser Marketing Group

Nemesis continued to push its partnership with Pure for its in-car kits at the Expo, as well as its new SunnyCam glasses – simply sunglasses with a video camera built in.

Parksafe Automotive


Parrot had new products, with the Asteroid Mini, Asteroid Smart and Asteroid Tablet units on display, and details of the new Asteroid Market app store.

PPA Distribution

More new products from Pro-Plus were on display on PPA’s stand, with the factory replacement speakers for VW and BMW cars from MB Quart another prominent fixture.

Fraser Marketing Group was on hand to show the contents of its new catalogue, including in-car DVRs (black boxes), 360-degree cameras, intelligent collision avoidance and more.

Richter Sport

Grom Audio






The newest adaptors and car connector kits were on offer from Grom Audio, with some good show offers for dealers signing up to be distributors for the first time. Ifitstuff’s show offers certainly seemed to be going down well with the trade, as did learning about the benefits of Ifit-Pro at the seminar hosted by Jeff Scott. JVC showed its new MirrorLink and smartphonesupported products, with an unusual Smart demo car that had a computer keyboard installed in the bootlid.


The main focus of Kenwood’s stand was its new network double DIN product and the 2013 range, although some people may have been distracted by the F1 simulator.

Media in Motion

The 2013 range of interfaces were on show, including new ones catering for Ford and Japanese models, plus new aftermarket navigation interface packages.

Richter Sport specialises in cruise control, tracking, rear seat entertainment and body styling, and used the show to launch Fistune DAB and its new ABT A1 demo car. The main focus for Scorpion this year was tracking, with both the Track ST50 stolen vehicle product and the ST70 fleet systems being demonstrated. The latest tracking systems from Smartrack could be found at the show, now using internal aerials and antijamming CAT5 technology. All have a 12-year warranty. Full of ingenious kit, such as rear parking sensors and super-bright LEDs, Steelmate also had a new tyre pressure monitoring system that conveys its info via an iPhone.

Synergy Automotive Technologies Synergy was on-hand to show its range of in-car security products, and also a new tracking system, which it will be distributor on behalf of GPS Tracking Solutions in Johannesburg. “We had great support from both fellow exhibitors and visitors. We’re now following up the enquiries and look forward to the new opportunities that it’s created,” Nick Oakland, Syngery Automotive.

From the seminars Three seminars were held during the course of the Expo. Here’s what we learned at each: DIGITAL RADIO UK In a presentation given by Digital Radio UK (DRUK)’s Sam Bonham, with support from Martin James of Ofcom and Ian Gillgrass of the IMI (Institute of the Motoring Industry), the message was clear: “You’ll see more profit if you’re part of what we’re doing.” That means getting on board with digital radio and seizing the opportunity. There was discussion on the new digital radio installation scheme launched by the IMI for vehicles, and also the new tick mark, intended to give consumers more confidence. Less than 10% of radio listening in cars is digital at present, hopefully meaning lots of opportunity. The challenges presented by price, coverage, awareness and installation were also touched upon. Martin James addressed the dealers present and asked how many had digital radio in their own cars. “If you don’t have it, how can you sell it to your customers?” he asked. There was then an update on digital radio around the world, with discussion on how the introduction of the D Love character has started to improve public awareness. To increase its development, could digital radio be offered with an MoT? Could used cars be upgraded before a sale? Can it be communicated with a road tax reminder? In terms of how installers can get the most from it, they were advised to sign up to the IMI scheme, get the tick mark, give in-car demos, learn which stations are available locally, use the postcode checker on the DRUK website, and also be sure to request the point of sale material for use in their shop.

CELSUS Chris Bennett, director of business development at Celsus, began his session by explaining that it would not be about the company’s product, and was rather an investment in the industry, with advice and motivational tips for the dealers gathered. Some of the current industry challenges were addressed, such as increasing choice and competition on price from the internet, decreasing margin and profits, and competition from big box retailers. Possible solutions include attachment selling, upselling and performing product demonstrations, harnessing the interest in OEM upgrades and smartphone integration, and ensuring a good customer experience. Ideas for attachment selling included subwoofers – still making the biggest difference to any factory install – and accessories. Chris asked here, are you giving your accessories away? Sometimes it’s easy to just throw these in if the customer buys a sound system. Instead, offer these early and often. With smartphone integration, do your customers know you offer it? And similarly, are they aware of digital radio? You are the expert, and it is your expertise that sets you apart from online retailers. Mindset was a good point too – realise that an amplifier and sub does not just improve the sound, it completes it. And it is also a good idea to add an amp and sub to any digital radio sale. Installation is of course another attachment that should be pushed. Remember, we sell exciting products, it makes sense to advertise as it’s a lot harder to wish for business, and keep up with the training to stay on top of your skills. Chris then awarded 2,000 free ICE points to each dealer who attended.

IFITSTUFF.COM Jeff Scott of Ifitstuff grabbed the attention of everyone in the room by taking a £20 note off one of the dealers attending, and then shredding it in front of him – this was to show what was happening with his money if he took the route of advertising in a phone directory rather than optimising his presence online. Good point (and the dealer was given another £20 before sitting back down). Everything from websites to YouTube channels, to making the most of Ifit-Pro, were discussed in the time that followed. Jeff said that the aim of your website is to solve the customer’s problem, so something that loads quickly, with a simple, clean layout and great, up to date content is needed. Keith Holness, sales manager at Alpine, added to this, explaining why the brand continues to support Ifit-Pro, and the benefits involved. Jeff talked about his own experience, and how he spent time researching websites and reading books to help him get the most from it. He built an online gallery for his installations, with meta tags for the search engines to ensure his work could be found. He talked about the benefits of blogs too, which he admitted seem daunting, but his point was to get involved in online discussions, and link it back to your own website. Planting seeds was another idea, as if the content is up, it may lead to something later on. Jeff talked about a video he posted on fitting deadlocks to a van. It was several years ago, yet still seems to get him work to this day. The idea is to put yourself in a position to be found. 17

INTERVIEW /// Mike Edwards & Adam Handley ///

Next generation Adam Handley (left) and Mike Edwards (right) launched the DNN9230DAB at MEN Expo

At last month’s MEN Expo, Kenwood unveiled its new product range, with great head units, navigation, amplifiers and speakers on offer. There was also a very exciting network product, the DNN9230DAB, which packs just about every technological innovation you could want in a car into its double DIN chassis, controlled via an innovative user interface and voice recognition. This is a product requiring specialist installation, which could create opportunities for the dealer later on. Kenwood’s general manager, Adam Handley, and technical manager, Mike Edwards, explain…

So tell us about the DNN9230DAB. Adam: It has navigation, Bluetooth and digital radio, and three ways to connect to the internet, through either a smartphone, a dongle into the USB or a hotspot. There is also the internal network in the car, so anything being streamed into it can be streamed locally, which means passengers can watch Netflix or YouTube on a tablet, for example. Mike: It’s based on an Android platform, so it’s different to anything we’ve produced before. It has very fast processing, and everything about the touchscreen operation is slide finger, pinch finger, it’s more like a mobile phone system. It has widgets too, which are separate sections of the display for different features, and you can swipe along them. Or if you’re driving, you can control everything by voice – so an email can be read out, and you can reply by speaking into the microphone.

It has speech-to-text and text-to-speech technology? Mike: It does, so it will read your Facebook updates and Twitter feeds. And with navigation, you can just say where you want to go, 18

Kenwood’s general manager, Adam Handley, and technical manager, Mike Edwards, talk us through their 2013 range, and reveal the opportunities for installers

it will read it back to you to confirm, and then direct you. You can customise the widgets according to which features you want to prioritise, adjusting it for business or leisure purposes.

How is this product an opportunity for dealers? Mike: We’re moving away from just putting a unit in the car with CD or cassette. Now, when you sell something – whether it’s this or one of our other units – you can support that customer over the next few years, because that product will evolve. It will need software updates. Adam: And phones are changing every six months. So it’s a continuation, and that’s something we want dealers to understand. With car dealerships, it’s not just about the car, it’s the after service – ensure the customer stays with that dealership, keeps buying upgrades and so on. Car audio dealers should take that approach. It means more opportunity to hold on to your customer. Mike: It means you’ve got a relationship, and when that customer comes back for an update, it’s an opportunity to sell them more things.

And this is reflected across the 2013 range? Mike: There are only a few models in our new range that can’t connect to the internet in some way, even the CD range step-up models can use Aha app technology to stream Facebook, Twitter or get internet radio feeds. Dealers can use this to educate the customer and keep them coming back.

What other improvements can we expect this year? Mike: The navigation route calculation speed is five times faster than before, and our Bluetooth chips have been upgraded, so you can now adjust sound quality while you’re on a call. MirrorLink is also something we’ve introduced on the DDX line, for Galaxy S3 and Nokia phones, and our digital radio units have the latest chips too, so you can rewind a broadcast. All of our DNX products have Garmin Smartphone Link, which gives live traffic updates every 30 seconds, with weather forecasts and live motorway camera access, so you can see visually what a problem might be. There is also our Aha Radio app for Twitter, Facebook and music downloads.

With the network product in particular, is there a need to train dealers? Mike: When we saw how good this product was and how much it did, we realised it was important to get our dealers in and train them in small numbers. Adam: It is an in-depth product, retailing for about £1,400, and we need the dealers to sell it for us, no doubt about it. I’m sure the customers will want to know about each of the different functions, so the dealer has to know too. But what we want to do with units like this is put the value back into installation. Digital radio and internet service-type products are key, and both need to be professionally installed. The market is always open to people being specialist, so it’s important to know your product to stay top of your game.

For more info, call Kenwood on 01923 816444, or go to

CEL TRADE T: 0116 2449846 E:

DNN 9230 DAB

Internet Ready


Connect to the world... ...not just your mobile

Kenwood recommend unlimited mobile data plans. You may be subject to additional data charges. Check with your provider.

• Wi-Fi network connectivity (Requires 3G/4G mobile data service) • INRIX detailed traffic and dynamic driver info (free subscription for 2 years) • Motorised detachable 7" touchscreen • Vehicle information for OEM displays

• Hard-drive navigation with split-screen • Voice control functions (Siri compatible) • RSS feeds for news and blogs • Import Google Maps



DNX 5230BT • 7" detachable screen • Built-in Garmin navigation • Auto iPhone pairing with Siri voice control • aha radio/twitter/facebook via your smartphone link • iPod & Android control

• 6.1" part detachable screen • Built-in Garmin navigation • Auto iPhone pairing with Siri voice control • aha radio/twitter/facebook via your smartphone link • iPod & Android control



QFC: 10914


QFC: 10913

DNX 4230BT • 6.1" screen • Built-in Garmin navigation • Auto iPhone pairing with Siri voice control • aha radio/twitter/facebook via your smartphone link • iPod & Android control


QFC: 10919

Dealer Net

Live pricing and online ordering at Prices exclude VAT and delivery Credit card payments will be subject to a 2% surcharge Errors and Omissions excepted

• 6.1” screen • Built-in Garmin navigation • Auto iPhone pairing with Siri voice control • aha radio/twitter/facebook via your smartphone link • iPod & Android control


QFC: 10912

DEMO CAR /// £25,000 Mercedes system ///

The colour of money Martyn Williams checks out a monster Mercedes install worth £25,000, offering one of the best hi-fi-quality-in-a-livingroom sounds that you are ever likely to hear


he Mercedes CL500 V8 coupe was a cool £89,000 when it was new, and over a decade later its timeless quality still shines through. Dave Legg, partner at Car Radio Skipton, picked one up for £60,000 less when it was only three years old – wonderful thing, depreciation! Dave loves to listen to music faithfully reproduced in his home, but equally has always wanted the same quality in the car. He got into car audio over 20 years ago, and this was helped by his tech-electric background in the army, and he subsequently worked for the RAC for many years. His installs in the past include a Fiat Cinquecento with nearly £8,000-worth of kit – about twice the value of the car. 20

However, a dream install that he was considering needed a better starting point, hence the Merc as a basis for ultimate quality. The big CL is ideal for good sound staging due to its interior width. This has been enhanced with modifications to allow the driver to sit further back than normal. This most adventurous mod combined extending the pedals back and allowing the fitment of a subwoofer in the driver’s footwell (with an identical sub on the passenger side). Apart from the engineering challenges of fabricating the new pedal linkages, the amount of work that has gone into the sub enclosures is epic. The sealed boxes are

less than a cubic foot, and multi-layered inside with various absorbent materials, including sheep’s wool. The fibreglass rear of the box was laid-up against the metal floor for a perfect fit, and the finished thickness of the composite averages about 13mm. The subwoofer mounting panel of the enclosure is 10mm aluminium, and the sub is rebated with a sheet of 36mm birch ply on the front. The doors housing the mid-bass drivers have also been given a massive amount of treatment to reduce resonance. Being a large coupe Mercedes, engineers have reduced the difficulty of opening the doors in confined spaces by using cantilever hinges, which allow the door to move

Motorisation earns extra points in sound-offs and exposes beautiful Genesis P15 amplifier internals

Brake and accelerator pedals were cleverly re-sited to install front stage subwoofers

THE DETAILS l1  x Pioneer Carrozzeria ODR RS-D7xIII CD head unit l1  x Pioneer RS-P90 ODR pre-amp l1  x Pioneer AVIC-HD1BT HDD AV monitor head unit l2  x Pioneer ODR TS-T01RSII 35mm tweeters l2  x Pioneer ODR TS-S01RS 77mm mid-range speakers forward slightly as it opens. Dave has taken advantage of the hinges’ strength to take the weight of three layers of Dynamat Xtreme on the inside of the door skin, and a 3mm thick lead sheet on the inner panel. The mid-bass unit is mounted in a huge lump of machined steel. Every part of the install has been uncompromising. The amp mountings and motorisation linkages in the boot, for example, are all machined from 5mm marine grade aluminium. The line-up of Pioneer ODR (Optical Digital Reference) equipment was selected for its extreme dedication to the very best construction, and materials above and beyond the norm. The RS-P90 pre-amp/processor, for instance, has a signal-noise ratio of 115dB, with an eight-channel (high/mid/low/sub) high voltage line-out. The specification includes 32-bit floating SHARC DSPs and Burr-Brown 24-bit Advanced Segment DACs.

l2  x Pioneer ODR TS-MO1RSII mid-bass speakers

Pioneer AVIC-HD1BT in the original position, with the ODR CD-tuner above

l2  x ScanSpeak 23W/4557T-02 9 inch aluminium cone subwoofers l1  x Genesis P15 valve pre-amp amplifier l3  x Genesis DMA Dual Mono A-Class amplifiers l2  x Genesis DMX Dual Mono Xtreme amplifiers l2  x C-KO sun visor LCD displays l1  x C-KO DVB TV-tuner l2  x Select Products actuators (P15 amplifier tilt) The eight outputs from the Pioneer pre-amp means that the whole system is active, with a Genesis DMA (Dual Mono A-Class) driving the tweeters, a P15 into the all-important mid-range, bridged DMAs each firing into the mid-bass door units, and a DMX coupled to each subwoofer. The ODR and the Genesis amps, particularly the P15, valued at £6,000

Pioneer ODR remote control oozes quality

makes it easy to knock up a £25,000 total equipment spend, with over £2,000 spent on Nordost cabling alone. Add to that the 140 days of labour and it’s a pretty pricey sum. Not the kind of car you want to forget where you’ve parked. For more info, call Dave, Carlo or Peter at Car Radio Skipton (01756 794850). Also visit 21




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2-way Remote Start / Security System Includes 2 x 2-Way Supercode Remotes Ports for tilt, glass, proximity sensors etc Manual Transmission Mode Stinger DoubleGuard Shock Sensor Advanced Remote start functions 4 x Auxiliary Channels Six Tone Siren

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smartstart bundles

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330X1 / X2 / X3 CAN OEL Alarms

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020 8569 1543

Prices for CAS Trade Account Holders only. Delivery charges extra. Prices Valid until 31/04/2013. All prices exclude VAT @20%. E.& O.E. Car Audio & Security Ltd, Units 6A-6B Bilton Way, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 3NF.

Car audio retailer of the Year

A W A R D S 2 0 1 1

A W A R D S 2 0 1 1


020 8569 1543

A W A R D S 2 0 1 1



GT5-402 -


1 x 360W RMS @ 2ohms £64.90


4 x 100W RMS

10cm 90W 2 way

£89.99 £119.99


4x55W + 225W RMS


1 x 1400W RMS @2ohm £149.99





CS-4 10cm 90W 2-way


CS-5 13cm 105W 2-way


> neW gt6 range <

special prices on the new gt6 speakers CAll FOR BOx qUANTITy OFFERS

CS-6 16.5cm 135W 2-way £10.99 CS-69 6x9 210W 2-way


cUstom fit series grills not inclUDeD

gto components

2 x 75W RMS


cs speakers


speakers sold in pairs


gt5 range

gto amplifiers


GTO-508c 13cm 165W components GTO-6508c 16.5cm 210W components

either size, onlY £29.99 per kit (recommended retail price £79.99)

Uk DistriBUtor for U k



4x50W Double DIN DVD 7” Touch screen monitor, Rear USB Input, 3 x RCA

6.1” Double DIN screen, CD/MP3/DVD/USB Built-in Bluetooth

£229.90 or £269.90*


D i s t r i B U t o r


7.0” touch screen monitor, Built in European Navigation, Bluetooth/USB/DVD

*with KCE-250BT Bluetooth module


as fitted to our audi r8 Demonstrator

Pioneer DEH-1320MP 4 x 45W, CD/MP3 player, Front Aux Input, RCA

JVC KD-R531 4 x 50W, CD/MP3/USB, Direct iPod/iPhone connection, 2 RCA

JVC KD-R331 4x45W, CD/MP3 Front aux-input

KENWOOD KDC-4054UB 4x50W, CD/MP3/USB. Direct iPod/iPhone connection

JVC KW-AV50 6.1” TFT CD/MP3/ USB/DVD screen, 1 x AV inputs + 1 x Rear AV Output

KENWOOD KDC-3051R 4x45W, CD/MP3 Front Aux input

ALPINE CDE-173BT 4x50W, CD/MP3/USB Direct iPod connection Bluetooth ready

JVC KW-AV61BT 6.1” TFT CD/MP3/USB /DVD screen,Detachable fascia, Bluetooth built in







JVC KD-R431 4x45W, CD/MP3/USB Front Aux input



KENWOOD KDC-BT92SD 4x50W, CD/MP3/USB & SD, Bluetooth, Direct iPod/iPhone 3 x RCA, detachable face


KENWOOD DDX-3021 6.1” TFT CD/MP3/USB/ DVD screen, 2 x AV inputs + 1 x Rear AV Output




PIONEER AVH-X2500BT 6.1” TFT CD/MP3/ USB/DVD screen, 3 x RCA, Bluetooth built in


now compatible with older g5 alarms CALL FOR DETAILS

noW aVailaBle: Xtr, Xtrpro and hcca call for Details

KENWOOD DDX-4023BT 6.1” TFT CD/MP3/USB/ DVD screen, Detachable fascia, Bluetooth built in

VIBE SLR12 Active 12” 1200W sub in Active enclosure (built in amp)

Pioneer AVH-X3500DAB 6.1” Touch screen, DAB Digital Radio built-in, CD/MP3/USB, Bluetooth

FLI FU12 12” 1000W Active Sub/box with wires





Pioneer AVIC-F940BT 5.8” Double Din Touch screen, CD/MP3/ DVD/USB, European Navigation & Bluetooth

JBL BASSPRO Compact 200W Active Bass Box



Kenwood DNX-7210BT 7.0” Double Din Touch Screen, CD/MP3/DVD/ USB, European Navigation

JBL GTO Bass Pack 2” 1400W sub + Amp, Box & wiring kit included



t+ 020 8569 1543 f+ 020 8848 7175 e+


Business focus /// Finding inspiration ///

Follow the leaders

Don’t just be impressed by successful companies – look at what they have achieved, and see how you can learn from it Last month we talked about the failings of some well-known high street stores, and why it might be their lack of action or reaction that was to blame for their downfall, rather than the economy. So perhaps it’s now time to look at some of the companies that have been successful in the economic downturn, and how they may have done things that we could all learn from. A recent piece of news from the mobile phone world was the launch of four new low-priced Nokia phones. Nokia used to be just about the largest mobile phone provider, but over the years the likes of Blackberry, Samsung and the big one, Apple, have all become as big, if not bigger. If you take a product like Apple’s iPhone, it’s the iconic smartphone of our time, offering the freshest technology and functionality. Everyone else played catch-up, trying to match the seemingly unmatchable… and then Apple just upped its game again. So Nokia has taken a different approach, and realised that globally the market for cheaper phones is growing at a significantly more rapid rate than the expensive smartphone end… and essentially gone back to basics. Obviously these are new products (two are very low-priced phones, two are lower-priced smartphones), so it’s too early to tell if they will be a success, but tech media seems to think Nokia is onto a winner… and that is probably true. The key thing about this is that Nokia has taken a step back and looked at the bigger picture, rather than blindly chasing something it knows it is unlikely to ever reach. Phones might be a buoyant market, even in a recession, but what Nokia has done is found an area that it has the chance to excel in… making good, affordable phones, rather than all-singing, all-dancing in-pocket computers. 24

There’s a process that many businesses use (amongst a host of others), which you’ve no doubt heard about, called SWOT analysis, and you can imagine Nokia used something like this to reach the conclusion to build a cheaper line of phones. It’s a process any business can use too, simply by looking at the following areas – strengths weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT, get it?). You could run a whole business set-up through it, or even an individual idea. In this simplified case, imagine a dealer setting up a mobile installation service through SWOT analysis, and perhaps you can even add additional points we’ve missed. Strengths: Characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over others. In this case, if no nearby dealer is offering it, then the strength lies in the opportunity to attract more customers. There may be more. Weaknesses: Are there characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others? The main one would likely be the loss of a team member from the shop, or need to employ an additional member. Again, if it was your business, you may conclude there are other, more pressing weaknesses. Opportunities: Elements that the project could exploit to its advantage. Having a signed van increases awareness of the company as it travels between jobs. Perhaps there may be the chance to add other services, like free local delivery of parts sold. Threats: Elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project. Could a new mobile installer appear from out-of-the-blue and undercut your prices? Or perhaps there are more obscure threats you’d need to think about, like the possibility

that the price of fuel will rise dramatically? This is clearly a simplified version, but hopefully gives food for thought. If any of the answers to the four areas in a SWOT analysis mean that the objective (setting up a mobile installation service) is unachievable, then it’s time to move to a new objective. And that leads to another characteristic of successful companies; the ability to know when to stop something. McDonald’s suffered initially during the recession, but took action to close restaurants in some locations, and also add new items to its menus. Ford Motor Company is another good example, and a huge company that many thought might be headed for financial difficulty. But rather than trying to have its fingers in too many pies, it focused on the Ford brand, invested in new models (that could be sold globally) and established itself as a technology leader. That all involved plant closures and dropping its Mercury brand in the US, but those tough decisions have paid off. That’s not to say that diversification is not an answer in the current climate. Certainly the ability to offer greater choice, or adapt a business to cater for new demands in your field, are common sense, especially if what you’re currently selling isn’t doing well. But at the same time, as some of the companies in last month’s feature demonstrated through their lack of action, you shouldn’t be scared to stop following what your competitors are doing, take a step back and assess your potential. Clear thinking in tough times rather than blindly chasing a hazy goal is what will get you ahead. “If you can keep your head, while all around are losing theirs, you’ll be in MEN, my son,” as Rudyard Kipling once sort of said.

G7 Sounds Engineer/Development Engineer G7 Sounds operating from Newbury in West Berkshire are currently looking for an experienced Engineer to join a growing business. G7 is currently producing custom high end audio upgrades to all types of vehicles. Candidate should have high end custom fabrication skills and a good eye to attention to detail. Be able to have a variable skill set to cover installation of all in car accessory products. The candidate will also be involved in the Product Development Department, that requires to take part in particular tasks from producing prototypes , product testing right through to quality control. All areas require computer literate skills and have a good understanding of PCB components and circuit diagrams. Candidates must have over 5 years experience in In-car Entertainment industry and be able to have a customer facing ability. An excellent package awaits successful candidate, this includes a company phone, laptop, 28 days holiday and a competitive salary based on experience

Please send Cv to: G7 Sounds, Unit 1A The Paddocks, Hambridge Road Newbury, Berkshire RG14 5TQ. Tel: 01635 46149

Solve your issues quickly with our state of the art testing facilities Alpine Electronics of U.K., is now proud to offer use of our evaluation centre:

Hyde Park Corner the Uk’s leading mobile installation company are currently recruiting experienced In-car mobile engineers Successful Engineers will require a minimum of 3 years previous experience working within vehicle installations and have good customer services skills. You will be working with all types of motor vehicles and installing various types of electrical accessories including: car kits, parking sensors, tracking devices, telematic products, etc. You will be required to carry out installations on a mobile basis at arranged time slots, install the products and complete all relevant electronic paperwork.

Facilities: Full Vehicle Test (2 Car Chamber) with Exhaust Extraction Emissions Radiated Emissions Conducted Emissions

30 Hz - 7 GHz 100 kHz - 108 MHz

Immunity Conducted Immunity 1 MHz- 400 MHz Radiated Immunity 400 MHz - 1 GHz

Bench Test (Ground Plane) Precision measurement equipment (Rhode & Schwartz, Amplifier Research etc.) Access to our anti static lab (soldering de-soldering, oscilloscopes etc) Daily and half day bookings accepted and include kitchen and rest facilities.

Currently recruting all over the UK including the following areas: London (north & south) • Birmingham • Leicester • Peterborough • Kent Please send a CV in the first instance to: Hyde Park Corner, 61-63 Dowson Road, Hyde, Cheshire SK14 1QS • Tel: 0161 368 6999

Facilities available stand alone or with Test Engineer Please contact our Evaluation Centre Manager for a competitively priced quote on Tel: +44 (0)2476 719 521 Email:

Alpine House, Fletchamstead Highway, Coventry, CV4 9TW.

An excellent package awaits the successful candidate including company vehicle, uniform, company phone, basic salary & commission. 25

PRODUCT FOCUS /// DAB head units ///

DAB hands

Digital radio is one of the growth areas in our industry, and these devices make receiving it in the car an easy proposition. Chris Anderson finds out more


here are a number of ways to help your customers get digital radio, or DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting). If they want to retain their existing OEM head unit, there are companies like Connects2, or Celsus with its Paser brand, that offer hideaway add-on boxes, which can integrate digital radio with the steering wheel controls. Or look to products like Alpine’s EZi-DAB, or the Pure Highway 300Di, which add digital radio and give a separate control unit to mount somewhere on the dash. The other way is to sell them a replacement head unit with a DAB tuner built-in. If a customer is after a new head unit, it would be wrong not to sell one that does not have digital radio at this stage. The government is looking to announce a switchover date at the end of this year, and any unit with just FM/AM will no longer be able to pick up stations when that time comes. Some dealers believe it will be the announcement of a switchover date that will help them sell digital radio, and while this may create increased interest, there

Alpine The Alpine CDE-136BT is a very capable unit featuring DAB, DAB+ and DMB tuners, and offers an ace up its sleeve in the form of Parrot Bluetooth. That means radio with a far greater choice and better sound quality than before, plus the ability to sync with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and full phonebook access. For radio, the unit also features automatic switching between DAB and RDS, depending on regional availability, and a DAB antenna power supply – although the antenna must be bought separately. With the smartphone


are plenty of reasons to get selling it now – those who hold back will only miss out. Manufacturers are placing great importance on digital radio, and stress that dealers should get on board now. Girish Janday, product executive at Pioneer, says: “With the government announcement on digital radio coming later this year, it is only set to grow in the in-car market. As a result, see is a perfect time to prepare your customers for the FM switchover. That is why you’ll see a Pioneer DAB offering for each market segment. Digital can be an intimidating prospect, but specialist dealers particularly can be confident that they understand the products and what they fit into, so are experts in finding the right antenna for different vehicles. Combining the featuresets of our units, the service that DAB offers and the expertise of our dealers, customers will be getting a superb in-car entertainment experience.” Get in touch with Digital Radio UK ( if you haven’t already, to request point of sale material

and create a buzz. When a customer comes in, use the postcode finder on the DRUK website to reveal which extra stations they can get in the area. And fit digital radio to your demo car, because as Chris Bennett, director of business development at Celsus, said in his presentation at the recent MEN Expo, it can lead to an attachment sell: “Digital radio is part of the solution. Ask if they like the sound, and show them how it is part of the package, and that by adding an amplifier, better speakers and a subwoofer, it gets even better.” And just as any head unit sold without digital radio will struggle post-switchover, think of all those car dealerships selling vehicles currently with no DAB in them that will experience the same. Worth getting in touch perhaps and offering your services? They are not the experts, and it may not be high in their list of priorities, but it could mean benefits for you. There are opportunities presented by digital radio – you just need to tune in and find out what they are.

RRP9 £29

connected, features include SMS text message alert, a GSM signal strength indicator, echo cancellation presets, and

ID3 tag support when streaming music. Alpine 02476 719620,

Beat The Beat490 may have been around for a little while now, but all that does is show how quick off the mark the brand has been

in introducing an all in one digital radio single DIN at a very competitive price. Compatible with both DAB and DAB+, all that is needed

RRP9 £16

is a suitable antenna to receive the stations, and a roof-mount version is provided in the box. The other selling point might be the number of connections it has on its front panel too, including Aux in, USB and SD memory card slots, which helps to create a long list of sources it is able to play from. There is also an RDS tuner, bass control, six-preset equaliser, 4 x 40W amplifier and full iPod/iPhone controls. Connects2 0845 257 5588,

Blaupunkt Just the one digital radio head unit from Blaupunkt, the Nashville DAB47, which allows you to record, store and play back your favourite shows thanks to the inclusion of an SD card slot. It is also possible to set the device to record a show when you are away from the car, or just press the button to start recording right away. Other features include MP2/MP3 playback from CD as well as the memory card, a Digiceiver to ensure good analogue reception, a fiveband parametric equaliser, and TMC data

RRP9 £14

compatibility. There is also a 4 x 50W builtin amp, a sub out, two Aux in sockets and a four-channel pre-amp output. iPod control

RRP9 £20

is possible with an optional interface. Autosound 01274 685411,

RRP9 £14

Clarion While Clarion is yet to release a head unit with a DAB tuner built-in, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good digital radio experience in the car using its product. Clarion was one of the first manufacturers to get behind digital radio in the late ’90s,

so it certainly knows a thing or two. If you were to pair its CZ702E head unit with a DAB302E hideaway receiver, for example, then all of the station variety and excellent sound quality can be made use of. The head unit will also provide Parrot

Bluetooth, a front Aux input, iPod control and a MOSFET 4 x 50W amp. Clarion’s 2013 range is yet to be released, so maybe we’ll see an all-in-one DAB unit then. Clarion 01793 859560,

can be added to with a KS-BTA100 Bluetooth adaptor. The KW-DB60AT is the double DIN variation at £179, which has all of the above, plus an extra Aux in.

Both include a film antenna.

JVC Would you like your digital radio in single or double DIN, as JVC is catering for both? The KD-DB53 at £149 is the smaller of the two, with both DAB and DAB+, a front-panel-mounted 1A USB port to enable two-way iPod/iPhone control – plus an external app mode allowing sound from apps to be played through the vehicle’s speakers. A radio timer is included to ensure listeners do not miss favourite shows, there is an Aux in, left, right and subwoofer preouts, and the unit

JVC 0208 450 3282,

RRP9 £14 27

PRODUCT FOCUS /// DAB head units /// Kenwood The most capable of Kenwood’s digital radio head units is the KDC-BT73DAB. A new DAB chip means more functionality

than previous models, most notably TimeShift, so you can rewind a broadcast if you miss any of it to take a phone call, for


example. The three-line display gives plenty of room for station and artist info, and there is a front and rear USB socket, Bluetooth for two phones, full audio DSP with time alignment, and easy iPhone pairing. But with a smartphone connected, internet radio also becomes a possibility, and by downloading the Aha Radio app, organising stations here is easy, and it will even enable the unit to read out your Facebook and Twitter updates. Kenwood 01923 816444,

Parrot Parrot is a big supporter of digital radio – but its latest Asteroid products, while they make listening to stations in the car a possibility, stand out against the other items featured here. First of all, the Asteroid Smart unit is mechless with a 6.2 inch touchscreen, rather than a regular CD unit, and although it may occupy a double DIN space in the dash, it does not require the same mounting depth. Or the Mini and the Tablet, with 3.2 inch and 5 inch screens, are units that can be dash-mounted. Simply connect

RRP9 £24

RRP9 £29

a smartphone, and handsfree calling, app downloads and radio listening via a digital platform are among the opportunities. Parrot 0844 472 2360,

Pioneer Pioneer now has three head units with digital radio built-in. Each offers DAB+, and also TimeShift, allowing the user to pause and rewind a live broadcast. At just £139, the DEH-X6500DAB also has a MOSFET 4 x 50W amp, a five-band graphic equaliser, and ASR (Advanced Sound Retriever) technology for restoring lost detail to compressed music files. Phone mute and USB connections, and

Mixtrax for adding effects to digital music, completes the package. The DEH-X8500DAB at £239 adds a better display and Parrot Bluetooth, while the AVH-X3500DAB at £399 has a 6.1 inch touchscreen and AppRadio, meaning it can connect to a smartphone and make use of compatible apps. Pioneer 01753 789789, RRP

RRP9 £39


RRP9 £23

Sony We’re currently awaiting the release of the latest Sony head units, but in the meantime the brand is making digital radio listening a possibility with this single DIN, the CDX-DAB700U. The unit handles DAB, DAB+ and DMB-R formats, as well as FM and AM, and comes with an adhesive film antenna. Its other features include a front USB input for plugging in an iPod or iPhone, and there is also a 4 x 52W amplifier built-in. The Automatic Level Optimiser allows users to adjust for playback 28

volume level changes between different music sources, while SensMe allows you to create themed music channels to suit your

mood. The unit also has three preouts. CEL Trade 0116 244 9846,

RRP9 £27

CEL TRADE T: 0116 2449846 E:

“spread the love”





(DAB aerial required)



• iPod control • Front & Rear Aux in • variable illumination

QFC : 9830

£119.70 iPod

• Advanced App Mode • iPod & Android control • Rear USB & Aux in

DNX 4210 DAB QFC : 10685


• Bluetooth • iPod & Android control • TMC

QFC : 10227

£499.98 iPod


(DAB aerial required)



• Pause, rewind & replay DAB radio • iPod control QFC : 10438


• Front USB • Front & Rear Aux in

• iPod / iPhone control • Variable illumination

DEH X8500DAB QFC : 10028


QFC : 9819


• iPod & Android control • Red illumination






(DAB aerial required)


• Pause, rewind & replay DAB radio • iPod control QFC : 10680 • Siri Control




NEW QFC : 10852



KDC BT73DAB • iPod & Android control • Variable illumination


NEW QFC : 10874


• Digital Radio Add-On • AV input compatible • Radio station info • Artists / DJ info QFC : 10284

£85.00 CDE 136 BT • iPod / iPhone control • External Mic


(DAB aerial required)

QFC : 10163

£178.25 Dealer Net

• DAB add-on display • Pause and rewind live radio

QFC : 10757


Live pricing and online ordering at Prices exclude VAT and delivery Credit card payments will be subject to a 2% surcharge Errors and Omissions excepted

• FM radio compatible • Radio station info • Artists / DJ info QFC : 10408


ADVERTORIAL /// Connects2 ///

The new Connects2 website is here! Connects2 has just revamped its website, making it easier to find what you need and with lots more information. Chris Brown in technical sales reveals the new changes What are the highlights of the new Connects2 website, in terms of features?

In terms of features, we have tried to make the process of finding the correct part as simple as possible. We recognise that different customers prefer different ways of finding the product they require. With that in mind, we created the website to allow search via part number, by make/model and also by product category. The content itself has been developed to become much more informative to the dealer, providing information such as connector type, features/functions, installation guides and YouTube videos showing product features.

vehicle application are all available to view. Put this together with the clean, uncluttered layout, and the website has a fresh new image that is easy to use.

dealers can check stock availability. The more information we can provide to dealers, the quicker they can generate sales for their business.

Based on feedback from your dealers, what is it you felt your site needed?

With your business, part of it is showing products, but also educating on how they are used or what for. How has that influenced the development of the website?

The main feedback from our dealers was that they found it difficult and slow to navigate their way around the old site. Finding the part they needed could be time-consuming and did not provide all the information required. With such a vast and expanding product range, we have taken time to re-categorise and expand product application data.

What can visitors to the site do that they couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t before?

How do you see it developing now?

Overall, the level of product information is vastly improved. Access to images, instructions, features/benefits and

We aim to develop the site further in terms of the functionality, such as introducing a dealer login, whereby


Product education is paramount in the industry we work in. Although the vast majority of Connects2 interfaces are designed to be plug and play, it is important that we educate dealers about what exactly our products can do and how they can help their business to increase sales. With this in mind, it is important that our application data and product feature information is accurate and up to date, in a fast moving industry.

How many products do you think you have featured on the website now?

What kind of incentives will be up there to keep people coming back?

There are over 2,500 product lines now available on the website.

It is important to keep the website fresh and up to date. By offering new product innovations and bringing the industry product firsts, we aim to have dealers return to the website again and again.

With so many brands, how do you ensure they all get equal attention, and that a user can find what they need?

Ensuring we have relevant product categories helps the user navigate to the product they require. New products are highlighted with a monthly dealer news article, and also through product focus articles.

This, together with increased product information on the site, should help to drive end users to the dealerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s door or website. Is social media a big part of your operation now? Has that influenced the website at all?

And how will the site direct business towards your dealers?

We currently use Twitter and YouTube to inform dealers of new products. Both tools are useful for keeping customers up to date with all the latest developments and have been incorporated into the new website.

We have a UK dealer locator, allowing end users to enter their postcode and find their nearest Connects2 dealer.

For more info, call Connects2 on 0845 257 5588, or visit

Product category page

Redesigned product category page to allow easier navigation to the required category range

Select vehicle brand

Select the vehicle brand to view available products

Product information page

See individual product application and feature information. Application guides, instructions and videos are available to provide full and detailed product information at the click of a button 31

PRODUCT FOCUS /// Tracking update ///

Fitted with a Tracker system, police soon catch up to the stolen car

The right track

With specialist installation required and only a 41% chance these days of a stolen car without one being recovered, do tracking systems represent a potential growth market?


racking systems offer good business potential for the installer. First of all, they require specialist installation and setting up, and it is something many cars will not have fitted as standard. Vehicle theft is never far from the newspaper headlines either, which means protecting what they own will certainly be playing on customers’ minds. According to Cobra, for example, £1.5 billion in criminal profit was generated by car theft in the UK in 2012, with high value vehicles (over £25,000) providing the highest profit for organised gangs. Alarms and immobilisers are not enough these days either, with the technology used by thieves to bypass them becoming as sophisticated as the devices themselves. A tracking system presents a better solution, with one black box or several hidden around the car, activated in the event that the vehicle is stolen, with the owner or police able to track it online.

As a result, such a system improves the chances of the vehicle being recovered, and quickly. Cobra, for example, reported that the average recovery time in 2012 for vehicles fitted with its tracking technology was 57 minutes. And so far in 2013, Cobra has managed to cut the average vehicle recovery time down to just 22 minutes. Andrew Smith, managing director of Cobra UK, has warned of the dangers of cars being stolen in the current climate, and the benefits of purchasing a tracking system. “High value cars are now being stolen to order by professional gangs who can move these vehicles within 48 hours across borders using falsified documentation,” he says. “Some countries in Eastern Europe have processes in place to re-register stolen cars, which is just making the situation worse. Fitting a Cobra tracking system is the difference between keeping your pride and joy or losing it forever, as only 41% of

unprotected cars are now recovered.” Other benefits to the customer include reductions in their insurance premiums, but is this actually balanced out by the subscription charges for using the tracking system service? Some companies such as AcuTrac are looking at ways to reduce costs, with SMS texts and a SIM card, so the device is only used in the event that it is needed, rather than a fee paid each year. The statistics above can be useful in pushing the sale, and customers will also want to weigh up pricing, Thatcham approval and how it impacts insurance costs, and features and online facilities provided in relation to their needs. Perhaps talk to your local car dealerships, particular those selling cars which might be a target, but also look at the leisure and agricultural industries, which are experiencing growing theft. It could be a promising area to work in.



AcuTrac is a tracking system with no ongoing fees – but it will still work when it is most needed, in the event that the vehicle is stolen. A three-year contract SIM is included in the price, but around 40% of the current customers will run it with zero credits, topping it up if there is a need to track the vehicle. By utilising a ‘pay as you use’ text messaging system, running costs are kept low, and using texts rather than GPRS is also said to reduce battery drain. There are three main models in the AcuTrac range, and via the website a contact list for alerts can be set up, with timed reports, geofence set-up, battery status and more. AcuTrac 01264 310007,

The Autowatch Thatcham TQA-approved system costs £299, including VAT and fitting, with security centre subscriptions of £135 annually, or £385 for a lifetime. The control module in the vehicle can be reprogrammed remotely from the control centre via a GPRS network, allowing it to be upgraded without having to get inside the vehicle. Other features include detailed mapping and high accuracy over the UK, Ireland and Europe, an internal rechargeable battery and a threeyear warranty, with options including email notifications for geofence violation, car battery disconnection or low car battery. There is a movement sensor alert, and a hidden emergency alarm button. Autosound 01274 688990,


Cobra Cobra UK offers two Thatcham-accredited vehicle tracking products, CobraTrak Plus and CobraTrak 5, and both are available with a web tracking upgrade, including the ability to set a geofence zone around your vehicle and receive an alert should it be taken away from it. CobraTrak uses the latest GPS/GPRS/GSM technology to locate a vehicle to within 10 metres, while the company’s network of 24-hour monitoring centres across 39 European countries, Russia and South Africa commence live tracking when a theft is reported, liaise with police authorities in local language to recover the vehicle quickly, and minimise the likelihood of damage. The vehicle’s status can be monitored online

Cobra UK 01932 772400,



The ST50 is a GPS/GSM tracking system with Thatcham Cat. 6 accreditation. Suitable for both 12V and 24V applications with a waterproof version available as well, the ST50 can be fitted to all types of vehicles including LCV, HGV, agricultural and plant equipment. Scorpion has recently made the subscriptions more flexible with one-, two-, three- or four-year options available, which include European tracking and locate on demand as standard. As you would expect from an insurance-approved system, the unit features tow-away, tamper and low battery alerts, with an option to guard against key theft as an additional subscription.

SmarTrack has collected a total of 21 MEN Awards over seven years. Its tracking devices include internal aerials employing anti-jamming CAT5 technology, and these days offer innovative and intuitive cloud-based tracking solutions to a loyal dealer base of 1,000 Tri-registered installers. This is supported by a full product distribution network of partners, with all of SmarTrack’s products offering a 12-year warranty, working anywhere in the world thanks to Global Telemetrics Platform (GTP) technology. SmarTrack utilises Global APP cloud-based technology, offered free of charge, and full of features for the consumer, helping sales growth over the coming years.

Scorpion 01257 249928,

Smartrack 0845 833 6971,

Synergy Automotive Electronics A wide range of tracking systems aimed at different market needs is on offer from Synergy, including stolen vehicle recovery, asset tracking with biometrics, proactive speed capping and Garmin interface, and also systems that allow control of the vehicle using a smartphone app. The company recently formed a partnership with GPS Tracking Solutions, a highly successful telematics company based in South Africa. Michael Gazet Du Chattelier of GPS TS said: “We’re excited to expand our operations in the UK market, and look forward to working with Synergy. The UK market is very mature, but not everybody can provide some of the solutions that we can.” Synergy Automotive Electronics 01865 366434,

Whole fleets can be tracked if necessary



Celebrating 20 years in business, and with £468 million-worth of stolen vehicles recovered to date, Tracker very rightly refers to itself as a market leader. Its stolen vehicle recovery systems, fitted to passenger cars, motorcycles, caravans, HGVs, LCVs, plant and construction equipment, work like an electronic homing device, with a covert transmitter hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. There is no visible aerial, and the device will work even if the vehicle is hidden in a garage or taken abroad. A handy feature is the brand’s Mesh Network, where vehicles fitted with a Tracker device silently identify to the police stolen vehicles that have them too.

Trackstar has become a leading brand in stolen vehicle tracking/recovery. The new TM470 unit is smaller, yet still packs the same punch in functionality. As well as Thatcham Category 5 and Category 6 accreditation, it records each journey, which is downloaded overnight. This data becomes part of an anonymous dataset used to generate traffic statistics for routes. Locate My Vehicle is a new service where the owner can view the location of their vehicle on a map of the position at last ignition off. In addition, all subscribed vehicles are covered by the international Eurowatch network, so that help is at hand if the car is stolen while abroad.

Tracker 0845 602 2356,

Trackstar 0845 604 5433, 35

MEET THE DEALERS /// Sounds alarming ///

Raising the alarm What’s the background of your company?

Sounds Alarming was formed when Lyn Holmes and Bob Nicholls, who were running PPS Distribution, a car audio wholesaler and importer of Sikura car alarms, had the opportunity to take over one of their existing customer’s retail shop in Welling. That was back in 1997. During those early years they had a budding car audio enthusiast that worked for them on Saturdays while studying at university – that was me! After a short time, I was offered a partnership with Lyn and we remain the owners to date. We added to the numbers of staff, and in 2002 we purchased larger premises and built a new workshop at the rear. What is it that has helped you last this long?

Our growth and the key to us still being successful is unexcitingly simple. Employ good staff, do a good job, use good quality products, look after your customers, maintain a healthy margin and move with the times. We also have the advantage of increased buying power through our distribution company. Can the current climate be a challenge?

It would be hard to maintain the type of business we had six years ago. With reduced footfall and margins, it would be very challenging to maintain just a retail store in its traditional form. We now generate approximately 60% of our turnover with our mobile installers, and are working with the majority of the local new and used car dealers, councils and fleet operators. We have also broadened our offering, but remain true to our core business of vehicle electronics. 36

Andrew Gainsford at Sounds Alarming in Welling invites us into his showroom

How big is your operation?

We have five full-time staff, four part-time, and are looking for another good commercial installer. We also use some of PPS’s customers for our larger installations. Where would you say the growth markets are at the moment?

Our biggest are digital radio and smartphone integration, both to retail customers and car dealers – also cost-saving products such as diesel tuning modules, speed limiters, fleet management and driver behaviour systems to our fleet customers. Which products are you selling a lot of?

Our sales are very diverse at the moment, but probably parking sensors, dead locks and alarms, double DIN satnavs, OEM integration and diesel tuning boxes. Any tricky cars you’ve had in and worked on recently?

The trickiest recently have all been on HGVs. Customers are requiring full side scan systems on eight-wheel tippers and fleet management, with bespoke monitoring requirements. How do you promote your business and generate sales?

This is probably the biggest change in our business. The days of doing a Yellow Pages advert and waiting for customers are gone, and you have to go out and find them. We use various strategies, including social media, websites, face to face networking, referral rewards, and most important of all try to retain the customers we have.

What do you think the challenges are facing the industry as a whole?

There seems to be a culture in our industry of saying that price degradation is part of life and there is nothing we can do about it, but the price-driven internet retailers still present the biggest challenge. Now the internet is a wonderful tool, in fact we are very active online and have two websites to inform our customers, show products and promote our services, but we do not sell at cut-throat prices. Of course, that means we will only get a limited period with any new product before the prices are slashed. New car specification is a bit of a double edge sword, and we have dealers who we used to install parking sensors for, but now the cars all come with sensors as standard! Luckily for us, now they all need digital radio. The flipside is that people become aware of new technology through new cars, and then want those products on their own vehicle. How do you see your business growing?

This is a very exciting time for our business. We are currently working on our largest ever contract, and have secured several significant new customers through the past year and early 2013. There were a lot of innovative products that were being launched at MEN Expo, and digital radio is set to take off. We have also found some niche markets and unusual suppliers, so hopefully we are in a good position moving forward. Contact Sounds Alarming, Welling, Kent (0208 309 8999), or visit

Get featured!

If you would like to give an update on your business, drop an email to

Introducing the Alpine TuneIt App

Stay in Control, Stay Connected The all-new TuneIt app turns your phone into an interface for custom sound tuning, Facebook updates and more! Compatible with iPhone and Android-based phones like Samsung Galaxy S3. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Alpine TuneIt App

Sound tuning right from your phone!

10 Pre-set EQs

Bass / Mid / Treble

Parametric EQ

Frequency Selection

Download the TuneIt app and connect your iPhone via USB or your Androidbased phone via Bluetooth®. Your phone instantly becomes a sound tuning interface. As you change settings on the phone, you hear the results, so you can customise the sound exactly how you want. Sound tuning choices include 6-channel Digital Time Correction, 9-Band Parametric EQ, Center Frequency, and Crossover cutoff, level and slope. After making your sound settings, upload them to the Alpine Cloud Server to share them with other Alpine fans. You can also check out their settings, and rate them. Download some high rated or interesting settings and try them in your car. The database will keep growing, so check back often to see new ones.

Facebook in your car! The TuneIt app also keeps you in touch with your Facebook friends. When you receive a new message, you get a visual notification on both smartphone and head unit, plus a sound notification through your car’s speakers. The visual notification includes a big “f” logo and the sender’s name, with the profile picture shown on the phone.

Time Correction




• ME


Space age


REVIEW /// Parrot Asteroid Smart ///


What’s it like?

This issue, Adam Rayner finds an Asteroid hurtling towards him – it’s Parrot’s awfully clever Smart


hile Parrot is the undeniable market leader when it comes to getting into bed with massive fellow manufacturers to supply them with Bluetooth solutions, it is also a recent player in the head unit game itself. I have been an early adopter of the Asteroid single DIN unit (now known as the Asteroid Classic), and it has some foibles, but we were promised a whole family of little Asteroids. Now it has happened, and we have got our mitts on the big one, also available as a hideaway box and slightly smaller separate touch-only screen (called the Tablet), the Smart is a bigger, badder thing, and has a heap of clever stuff going on. 38

This may seem like a simple double DIN, but when you heft it out of the box it comes in, you realise that just like the original Asteroid unit, it doesn’t take up an awful lot of cubic, not going back very far into that double DIN space at all. All the Bluetooth handsfree capabilities shared with other companies are here, and plenty more besides. It is packaged beautifully, with fully recyclable cardboard boxes, and arrives with a good collection of high quality USB cords, including one that goes a notch better than the original unit’s – so while you get a special USB socket on the back, as part of a row of no less than four of these holes, just for iPod, the actual iPod connector is now on a short ready-mated-to-USB cord as an extension to the wire, so you could use that fourth USB socket just for memory sticks if you were not an iPod person by unplugging these last three inches. This is pretty cool. The unit also arrives with an SD card with the mapping for the navigation system on it, and you use the same slot as the music-carrier SD slot to get the tunes to the air. It has a reverse camera connection, a stereo audio/video Aux input, steering wheel remote control port and RCA outputs for six channels, as well as full auxiliary audio/video output. The unit is largely about its connection to 3G or 4G, and the use of internet radio and other connected apps such as navigation, as well as its use of SD cards and multiple USB devices. It features a tiny removable security panel.

How well does it work? I plugged the unit in, in all directions, plopped the GPS antenna in the back, beside the microphone, and put the GPS doodah upon the window sill and got to work. I tried the neat removable bit, lovely.

Now to learn more… I am old and hate the modern trend to manuals only being online, as the cost to print it is actually worse to the environment than when they print in bulk. But I guess most folks will either just read online and go play with the unit afterwards, or take a laptop onto the drive. The supplied printed start-up guide is good, though. But while paper remains so easy to recycle, I do feel the manual-free route is a service of cost-cutting for the maker, rather than borne of environmental awareness. Clarion puts its own at least onto a CD, so not demanding net connection. I rapidly spun up some iPod tunes, stuffed the 8GB Sandisk ‘bean’ onto the end of the USB cord I had fitted and flapped over the top of the unit in the bench. It read the files, told me they were titled, but wouldn’t play them as the damn thing is corrupted. Better luck off SD, as I had stuffed that up the little orifice, and it sounded great. One big omission is iPod video. You could plug in a camcorder or a portable DVD with AV outputs, but not an iPod Touch with digital editions of movies you own. You can use the AV in and a generic iPod 30-pin-to-AV-socket wire from Apple, but that is just battery power, control from iPod only and not really about ease of use. Ironically, I connected a Clarion iPod video J-Lead up and the pics showed on the screen and the video soundtrack played on the main audio, but only when the moving picture was not selected. Odd, but to do with it being a Clarion wire. So basically, it does need a dedicated J-Link wire to be made for charging and iPod video-allowing. The really big story is the stuff you can do with the internet connection. I managed to play Bluetooth music from my BlackBerry, and easily paired for web use. And the device comes with a special three-month free trial offer on apps from the Asteroid market, with stuff such as Deezer, Tunein and Waze navigation. It’s got huge capability, and far more than I can talk about here.

Why stock it? It’s cutting edge and it’s new, and if you have the right mindset to get to grips with it and demonstrate all it can do, it will really impress your more tech savvy customers. The screen is good, and the sheer cleverness of all the app functions goes a long way. Parrot 0844 472 2360, RRP £499 plus fitting (varies according to vehicle),

Ratings Ease of use Installation Performance Value Overall A double DIN head unit with no mechanism, but a very high degree of connectability

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Got a problem? For any technical, product or business queries, drop us a line. Our panel of experts will offer their advice, based on years in the industry. Email Pioneer pairing Does anyone know how to access the installer menu on a Pioneer AVIC-X1BT? I’ve got a customer who has recently bought a BMW with this unit in, and can’t get it to auto connect on Bluetooth. It will pair with his phone, but has to be selected each time. I found a manual online, but it doesn’t cover this. Got any ideas?

Steve A solution to this came from Pioneer via According to the technician: “The Pioneer AVIC unit has a safety feature where if the handbrake (or handbrake wire) is off, the unit greys out many of its features, based on the idea that the vehicle would be in motion. These features include all phone options except answer and end call, and only work when the handbrake is up. This would mean that phone registration is not available either, as this can only work when the car is

parked, so that again the handbrake is on.” He goes on to explain that the reason the phone does not auto connect is because the unit is treating it as a guest, and under guest profile the manual connection is the only option – up to three phones can be registered, and once they are they use auto connect at default. “It sounds like, when this Pioneer unit was fitted, it’s either not had the handbrake cable connected, or there’s possibly an override

switch in the car somewhere,” he says. Forum contributor Paul Vardy also chips in with his own thoughts. “You have to check that the green handbrake wire is connected to earth, and then register the phone from the head unit – it takes 25 minutes, and most people don’t wait long enough,” he says. “I had this problem with the same unit, and my phone would pair to it and connect, but it wouldn’t work with the AVIC until it was registered from the unit.”

iPad install I’ve been asked to supply and fit a decent cradle that charges an iPad, and if possible will run audio through an aftermarket head unit. It’s to go into a truck, and he’d like to be able to use the iPad for satnav as well as watching movies, web surfing etc. He has a 3G connection, so I’m thinking it just needs a powered mount or similar. What does everyone recommend?

Colin A few contributors to have all recommended solutions. For example, Mike Wildman suggests looking at “We have had

iPad mounts from Brodit with pass-through, so you can plug in a Belkin lead that charges and has audio out,” he says. There are other brands too, with Tim

Consolante favouring Rammount. “Go to the website at and just put ‘iPad 3’ in the search window,” he says. “You’ll see a few to choose from.”

Ringing problems I installed a Parrot kit into a 2006 reg MAN TGA today, swapping the original head unit for a 12V JVC. There is a voltage reducer used at the original power plug, and a separate switch to turn the radio on and off, so the Parrot kit just plugs in and operates from the same switch. But the problem that had been there with a previous Nokia kit has resurfaced with the Parrot. Basically, when the phone rings the truck loses engine power while driving! We checked everything twice, and it still happens with the kit and head unit disconnected. Can anyone offer an explanation?

Eamonn the clocks, and every time the unit sent or received One theory for the cause of this cropped up on Ifitstuff. com. Alex Wade had performed the same install on MAN data the revs would drop,” he reveals. “I ended up vehicle, with similar results. “I fitted a tracking unit behind moving the tracking unit away from the clocks, which 40

fixed the problem – it looks like the MAN trucks are not shielded very well against RF interference. Was the phone near the clocks? If so, I bet that is the problem.”

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NEWS /// PRODUCT /// Celsus

JL Audio slims down New skinny subwoofers promise fantastic bass from tight spaces

When distributors Celsus told us that the new JL Audio TW3 subwoofers have an extremely shallow mounting depth, they weren’t kidding. In fact, the 10 inch 10TW3 – a 12 inch will follow later in the year – is said to give a similar performance to a full-size JL Audio subwoofer. Or how about the TW5v2 range, featuring the thinnest large-format subwoofer in the world? The 13TW5v2 features a reinforced frame design and a new, stronger motor that yields greater linear excursion than the original model, available with a 2 or 4 ohm single voice coil for a wider range of applications. In the cases of both the TW3 and TW5v2 models, only a very small enclosure is required, allowing superb extension and fidelity in the most difficult of spaces. The shallow mounting depth of these products is in part due to the patented Concentric Tube Suspension attachment design, allowing for more compressed architecture. Other features include tab-ear baskets, allowing for tighter grouping, and protective


mesh grilles are available. The 10TW3 is said to be ideal for medium power applications, with the design optimised in terms of thermal and excursion-limited handling, for ranges of 125-400W RMS per woofer. The 13TW5v2 is suited to high power handling, without compression, and has a huge 7 inch diameter voice coil to effectively dissipate heat. The 10TW3 has an RRP of £274, while the 13TW5v2 is £499. Celsus 01202 664390,


Feel the pressure Born to ride

New from Steelmate is a way of keeping tabs on a car’s tyre pressure via an iPhone. It’s all thanks to the TP-8886 DIY tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which can be easily installed within minutes. Just fit the four screw-on sensors, one to each wheel, and a cigarette plug display transmits in real time the current pressure and temperature of each tyre to your iPhone, with the relevant app installed, via Bluetooth. There are even audible and visual warnings if the pressure drops, with all locknuts and tools to install the sensors provided. Steelmate 01582 475677,

TELL US YOUR NEWS! If you have new products and you want the trade to know, why not tell us about it? Email information and hi-res images (300dpi) to


TomTom has released a new version of its Rider portable navigation device for motorbikes. The upgrades are said to be based on feedback from motorbike owners, with the ability to now choose between the fastest, most winding (for an exciting ride), most scenic or personalised routes. With the Tyre interactive software on a PC, routes can be planned and uploaded to the Rider in advance, and shared


Head gear

The latest Blaupunkt headphones have just made their way to the UK from Germany. Apparently, these are designed to an even greater level of quality in both sound and appearance, but retain the diversity of previous models. The flagship models are the Blaupunkt Style headphones, available in black or white, which retail for £199 and include free delivery. The popular Comfort Noise Cancellation headphones have also returned, along with Pure, Pure Talk and Sport Talk models, while the child versions offer new levels of sound sensitivity. Autosound 01274 685411,

with other users via Bluetooth. It also has a 4.3 inch glove-friendly screen and a charging cradle, with voice instructions relayed to a Bluetooth earpiece. RRP is £329.



Mirror mirror

JVC’s new top of the range in-dash AV unit, the KW-NSX700, boasts a whole load of features, including a 7 inch touchscreen, connectivity to an Android smartphone via MirrorLink, and to an iPhone or iPod via App Link Mode. With MirrorLink, that means the device can actually duplicate the display from the connected smartphone on the head unit screen and

make use of compatible apps, including those designed for in-car navigation, Google location tools, and music and voice calling functions. The unit also has Bluetooth, a video output, and an RRP of £499. JVC 0208 450 3282,

Parksafe Automotive

Caught on camera Parksafe had a number of new products on display at MEN Expo recently. One of them was this, the Drive View, which is a compact digital video recorder. It mounts effortlessly to the top of the windscreen via a small 3M adhesive pad and records the journey ahead, with footage submissable to a court case in the event of an accident. Just plug into the cigarette lighter socket, then record to a micro SD card. There is an optional AV output too, for watching the footage on another

Vibe has just launched a new sub enclosure, the Slick SLR 12 Active. These Slick boxes are said to be the brand’s biggest volume-selling enclosures, and for the first time feature the ported bass reflex technology found in higherpriced models, but in an entry-level box. Coupled with a far superior subwoofer than previous versions and an active amplifier, this provides highly competitive levels of bass presence and volume for the money. The SLR 12 Active is rated at 400W RMS and 1,200W peak, with a SLR 12 Twin Active with two subs also available. Midbass 0121 311 9090,

Antenna Products

device, and a built-in G shock sensor. Order six and receive a free display stand. Parksafe Automotive 01773 746591,


Shark tale

King Kon It may look unassuming, but this tiny speaker from Kondor is actually a handy Bluetooth kit, allowing users to take calls and stream music through the car’s speakers, connecting to the head unit via an Aux input – all for just £39. The Bluetooth Stereo Car Kit, to give the product its full name, allows two smartphone devices to be connected simultaneously, with DSP noise cancellation technology and echo cancellation built-in for a better performance.

Box of tricks

It attaches to an adhesive base or with magnets, so can be removed easily for use at home or work as a speakerphone.

On display at MEN Expo this year were new products from Italian brand Calearo, which specialises in a wide range of aerial products. So what might it be bringing to UK shores? This Shark 2 ‘tri-DAB’ aerial is a particular highlight, presenting an all-in-one solution for AM/FM, DAB/DAB+ and GPS. The compact shark fin shape is a fairly subtle design, and will not look too obtrusive when fitted on a car roof. An all-in-one solution like this means less piercing of the car bodywork, and is discreet enough to not let opportunist thieves suspect there are expensive electronics in the car. Antenna Products 01525 861212,

INSTALL GUIDE /// SmartStart technology ///


SmartStart Carl Huntington at Directed explains the workings of the company’s SmartStart technology, with dealer training set to commence this month


erhaps you have already heard of SmartStart, created by Directed Electronics, and available for its Clifford and Viper brands. Essentially, it is technology that allows the remote start, locking and unlocking of your car using a smartphone – from anywhere in the world! Just install the various SmartStart modules to the vehicle, download the app to the smartphone, and the simple graphical interface makes using it extremely easy. While the technology has gone down well in the States, changes in the distribution partner in the UK over the past 12 months have meant a certain amount of upheaval, with Clifford and Viper away from the spotlight. Now that


The basic kit out of the box. The SmartStart GPS module is shown with the logo, then there is a Bluetooth module, and an adaptor to help the system work with an existing Clifford or Viper alarm.

Car Audio Security (CAS) in Hayes has been appointed UK distributor, the company will commence training on these brands from April onwards, with one session every month by appointment, to bring dealers up to speed. Directed has many stories on the ways customers have been using SmartStart in the States. For example, its main use – apart from showing off – is letting your car run for a while before you exit the house, especially handy on cold mornings. But it also knew of a man who got married, headed to Florida on his honeymoon, then remembered the rental tux was left in his boot – he was able to call his brother, unlock the boot remotely, and the tux was returned to avoid a hefty fine.

Many features have been added since its launch too, making Version 3.0 the total ‘Cloud connected car’ solution, taking interaction with the vehicle to a new level. Users are able to set all the ‘normal’ GPS tracking options like geofence, hotspot, speed alert, lockdown etc, and get push notifications sent to the smartphone if the alarm is triggered, or if the voltage is getting low – so the car can be remote-started, ensuring it is still driveable when the user returns. Sound good so far? Then get in touch with Car Audio Security and the Directed staff to find out more. Not only can this be an attractive attachment sell for existing customers, but it could give just about every car owner a reason to visit your workshop.



With the app downloaded, it is now possible to remote start, lock and unlock the car via the smartphone, with boot release function and panic alert. It can also be used with multiple vehicles – ideal for families or fleets.

The SmartStart GPS feature means the location of the car can be monitored. That makes it easy to find in a car park, the speed alert function can be set, or users can be alerted if the vehicle visits a certain location. Functions may vary according to the type of smartphone.

STEP 4 SmartSchedule is described as part weatherman, part mind reader. Programme in the time you leave work, for example, your ideal temperature and so on, the app will use Directed’s server to check the weather in the area, and notify you prior to the departure time if it is below the preset, so you can remote start the car to warm it up.





The phone is also connected to SmartStart via Bluetooth. As the user approaches the car, or more specifically the DSM50BT module, the two connect automatically, so the commands can be executed this way instead.

No more wondering if you left the car unlocked, or the boot open. The Status Updates feature on the SmartStart app displays the car’s status in real-time. Whether the engine is running, or it is locked or unlocked, this will show on the device.

The app’s customisable auxiliary buttons mean that additional features can be added, and then controlled by the smartphone. This could include opening the electric windows or sunroof, turning on the sound system, or having the car bounce up and down on custom suspension.

SmartPark is a feature that notes the vehicle’s location every time the door lock button is pressed. Hitting the ‘Find My Car’ button on the SmartPark screen retrieves it instantly, along with any photos or notes you may have added as a reminder.

For more info, contact Car Audio Security on 0208 569 1543, and visit The first training day is scheduled for April 10 44

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THE Aftermarket Vehicle Solutions Limited Contact: Peter Hughes T: 0870 240 2554 E: W: Brands: Distributor of Gemini Alarm/Parking/ Tracking products, Cruise control, Speed Limiters, Heated Seat Kits, CAN Interfaces to the Aftermarket and the OEM Industries

Alpine Electronics of UK Ltd Contact: Sales T: 0845 3131650 E: W: Brands: Manufacturer of in-car audio equipment, mobile multimedia components, and in-car entertainment.

Antennentechnik Bad Blankenburg GmbH

Contact: Mirela Cenuse T: +49 (0) 36741 369-16 E: W: W: Description: Driving antenna technology forwards!

DIRECTORY Car Audio & Security Limited Contact: Rino / Allan T: 020 8569 1543 E: E: W: Brands: Clifford, Viper, JBL, Infinity, Orion, Kenwood, JVC, Alpine, Pioneer, Sony, SmarTrack, Parrot

Celsus UK Limited Contact: Sales T: +44 (0) 1202 664 390 E: W: Description: Exclusive distributors for AAMP of America (iSimple, PAC, Stinger, Phoenix Gold), Celsus, Calearo, Caliber, DABmotion Digital Radio, Dynamat Europe, Jehnert, JL Audio, MTX & Paser.

CEL TRADE Contact: Darren Waddingham T: 0116 244 9846 E: W: Description: Market leading distributor for Car Audio, Marine Audio, In Car DVD Systems, Fixed & Portable Navigation, Vehicle & Fleet Tracking solutions, Driver recording systems, Bluetooth Handsfree, Security, Camera systems & more. Major brands including Alpine, Clarion, Kenwood, Fusion, JVC, Pioneer, Pure, Sony, NextBase, Garmin, Mio, TomTom, Snooper, Parrot & More.

Commercial Electronics Contact: Salim Ali T: +44 208 404 7105 F: +44 208 404 7104 E: W:, Brands: OEM service available. Hawk Car Alarm, Hawk Reversing Angel, Hawk Motorcycle Alarm, Hawk GPS, Demon Car Alarm, Demon Motorcycle Alarm, Demon Reversing Angle, Demon Tracking, Cyclone Car Alarm, Cyclone Motorcycle Alarm, Cyclone Parking Sensors Kit, Cyclone Central Locking Kit, Cyclone GPS and much more...

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Contact: Andrew Simner T: 0845 257 5588 F: 0121 522 5589 E: W: Brands: Interface solutions for OEM and aftermarket systems, including interfaces for iPod, USB, MP3, Aux, steering wheel controls inc CAN-Bus, Stalk & Display, Telemute, Parrot, and MOST fibre optic iPod & Bluetooth hands free interfaces. BEAT, Ground Zero, Tsunami, Shuriken, Balistic, Raptor, Zenec, Metra, LG, MAC Audio

Contact: Gordon Ballantyne T: 0141 876 1819 or 876 1919 F: 0141 881 1515 E: W: Brands: All original OE fit car audio. Ford, BMW, Nissan-Merc. Sat Nav discs, Auto Electrics. Repairs, Decodes, Faces, Looms, Sat Nav, DVD, Amps, Subs, iPod, USB, Alarms, Alloys, Installs. Parrot approved installer. Mobile service

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Contact: Cobra sales T: 01932 772400 E: W: Brands: Cobra Alarms and Immobilisers, Cobra ParkMaster Parking Sensors, CobraTrak Stolen Vehicle Tracking, NSV Bluetooth® Handsfree Systems (compatible with all Bluetooth® enabled handsets), VizualogicTM In-car DVD Systems, Rear View Reversing Cameras and Monitors, Cruise Control and Speed Limiters

Parksafe Automotive offer a exclusive range of products: Rear & Front Parking systems, Commercial parking systems, OEM systems, Wireless Systems, 12/24 Volt Systems, Rear View Camera kits, DVR – Digital Vehicle Recorder, DTRL – Day Time Running Lights, Heated Seats, Elite Consumables, Ivanhoe Textiles Visit:


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Mobile Electronics News April 2013  

Mobile Electronics News April 2013