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In-dash car monitor makers step up to high definition

Touchscreens and TV functionality are additional R&D priorities in the maturing in-dash monitor line.

High definition is driving product development initiatives among China manufacturers of in-dash monitors. Suppliers are taking advantage of the technology’s 800x480-pixel resolution and greater than 450 lumens brightness, a significant step up from 480x234 pixels and 250 lumens supported by standard-definition counterparts. The former attributes enable terminal devices to deliver a better viewing experience even under direct sunlight, an important purchasing decision for in-vehicle versions.

In-dash car monitor
The IN7020DVD model from Up has Bluetooth and touchscreen functions.

All in-dash monitors at Shenzhen Joyous Electronics Ltd and Foshan Better Technology Co. Ltd are now HD variants. Guangzhou Suoka Technology and Electronics Co. Ltd, which also provides traditional analog types, offer digital versions for about $3 more.

Touchscreens constitute another strong trend in this industry. At least 60 percent of car multimedia players, GPS and PCs now adopt the technology. Four-wire resistive panels, which provide the best performance-to-price ratio, are mainstream. These have a shorter life span than capacitive versions but are more cost-efficient.

Some companies are looking to adopt vehicle-use panels that can support a wider operating temperature of -30 to 85 C and higher contrast ratio to ensure reliable performance. A few use mobile- or A/V-application screens for cost considerations. The same 7in digital screen for such setups can feature 800x480 pixels, but the contrast will be quite inferior to car-use panels.

TV functionality is standard in this line. Most in-dash car monitors from China incorporate an analog TV receiver, although modules compatible with the export region’s digital TV standard are also an option. ATSC for North America and DVB-T for Europe can be supported for an additional $20 to $30, respectively. Some companies offer CMMB, China’s digital TV standard. Makers responding to rising demand in South America, particularly Brazil, now deliver ISDB-T as well. Thirty percent of Guangzhou Suoka’s devices are equipped with ISDB-T receivers.

Under efforts to bolster sales, suppliers are moving toward multifunction, all-in-one products. Most can customize on request as well to address the growing homogeneity in the sector.

Foshan Better, a newcomer to the line, targets in-dash monitors at specific car models, with Toyota among its clients. More enterprises hope to develop custom-made devices to suit different dashboards, including those for the Toyota Corolla and Camry, the Volkswagen Magotan, Bora, Sagitar and Touran, and the Buick Roewe.

Manufacturers are also trying to shorten lead times to be able to roll out compatible products for newly launched vehicles.

2-DIN monitors lead the high end
Taiwan: In-dash monitor makers incorporate safety add-ons
Product gallery

In-dash car monitors price guide
2-DIN monitors lead the high end

A typical in-dash car monitor from China serves as a control console. Stand-alone units belong to the entry-level category, packing a 7in screen, 480x234-pixel resolution and analog TV in a 1-DIN configuration. Enhanced models in the midrange and high-end groups usually have an HD display or touchscreen and value-added features. All-in-one variants and car PCs are classified as upscale.

Double-DIN architecture is more commonly seen in advanced releases to support the integrated screen and built-in functions. Products targeted at particular vehicles are designed to match the car’s interior.

GPS, DVD, Bluetooth and A/V interfaces such as iPod connectivity are standard. RDS, 3G, Wi-Fi, and car communications and safety auxiliary systems consisting of tire pressure monitoring, on-board diagnostics, rearview sensor/camera and handbrake control can likewise be supported.

The TFT-LCD panel is the product’s major component with a 50 to 60 percent share of total costs, making it a key price determinant. In-dash monitors are usually fitted with a 6 or 7in display. An HD digital screen is $3 to $5 more expensive than an analog counterpart.

An analog tuner fetches an additional $2 to $5, while a digital TV alternative is higher by $20 to $30 depending on the standard supported. Bluetooth costs an extra $8 to $15, varying based on the module type and license fee. RDS is $1.50 to $3, while iPod connectivity without a license is $3 to $5.

The LCD and touchscreen panels are sourced from Taiwan vendors such as AU Optronics, CMO, HannStar, Prime View and Innolux. Some makers depend on local suppliers, including Tianma. Several premium models use LG Display and Samsung inputs.

Manufacturers employ DVD loaders from domestic providers ForYou, Corepine and Shinwa, while the laser head is usually from Hitachi of Japan. Sanyo’s DVD mechanism is also adopted, although a few high-end units opt for Sony.

Most chip solutions are Sunplus, Zoran or MediaTek releases.

The other components are GPS, Bluetooth, amplifier, USB controller and tuner ICs. These are largely sourced from overseas vendors such as SiRF, CSR, Broadcom, Samsung, STMicroelectronics and Rohm.

In-dash monitor
Model EL-917-0001 in-dash monitor from E-Lead connects to an iPod and supports Bluetooth function.
Taiwan: In-dash monitor makers incorporate safety add-ons

In-dash monitors with navigational functions are steadily gaining traction in Taiwan even as multimedia-equipped models remain dominant. All-in-one systems with security and surveillance features are likewise increasingly becoming popular. These incorporate parking/reverse assistance and digital video recording.

Mainstream releases, which generally exceed $300, have 5, 5.6, 5.8, 6.5 or 7in screens and 16:9 aspect ratio. TFT LCDs are the typical panels used, but more companies are switching to touchscreens. A growing number are also turning to LED backlighting.

The majority of products have DVD and audio CD capability, and some integrate FM radios and MP3/MP4 players. Others can connect to the iPod and iPhone. USB ports and memory card slots for SD, miniSD and microSD are popular add-ons. Digital TV reception and Bluetooth handsfree kits with advanced audio distribution profile can be supported on request. Several models have a rear-side CCD camera input jack, infrared remote and cruise controls, and auto-switch to CCD view in reverse gear.

While most monitors are integrated into all-in-one dashboard devices, there are a few stand-alone units for external connectivity. Stereo International Enterprise Co. Ltd’s products have a double-antenna design to provide clear TV reception during high-speed driving.

Related article:
Touchscreen car monitors: R&D zooms in on display engineering

In-dash DVD player
Product gallery

Ecson Industry Group Ltd
mainland China

Model: ESD-7000
Description: In-dash DVD player; 2-DIN motorized panel; 7in TFT LCD, 800x480-pixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio; capacitive touch buttons; FM/AM tuner with RDS; DVD, VCD, CD, CD-R, MP3, MPEG-4, DivX formats

In-dash DVD player

Foshan Better Technology Co. Ltd
mainland China

Model: CC-V805
Description: In-dash DVD player; 2-DIN ISO standard panel; 6.2in HD digital touchscreen, 800x480-pixel resolution; 4x50W amplifiers; AM/FM, analog TV tuner; DVD, DVD-R/RW, VCD, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3, MPEG-4 formats

In-dash DVD player

Foshan Better Technology Co. Ltd
mainland China

Model: CC-V807
Description: In-dash DVD player for VW Magotan, Bora, Sagitar and Touran; 6.2in HD digital touchscreen; 800x480 resolution; 2-DIN ISO standard panel; built-in Bluetooth, 4x50W amplifiers, USB, SD ports, and AM/FM and analog TV tuner; DVD, DVD-R/RW, CD, CD-R/RW, VCD, MP3, MPEG-4 formats

In-dash DVD player

Guangzhou Suoka Technology and Electronics Co. Ltd
mainland China

Model: SK-730
Description: In-dash DVD player; 7in HD LCD screen, 480x3(RGB)234 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio; touchscreen with 3D interface; Bluetooth, TV and AM/FM tuner with RDS; USB port, SD slot; DVD, DVD-R/RW, DivX, VCD, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3, MPEG-4 formats; PAL, NTSC, SECAM

In-dash monitor

Guangzhou Suoka Technology and Electronics Co. Ltd
mainland China

Model: SK-758
Description: In-dash monitor; 7in TFT panel, 480x234 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio; built-in TV tuner; clock; PAL, NTSC, SECAM, PAL-N, PAL-M; two video, two audio inputs; multilanguage OSD; optional digital TV; 0 to 60 C working temperature; 0 to 106-degree adjustable angle

In-dash car PC

Shenzhen Joyous Electronics Ltd
mainland China

Model: J-2619
MOQ: 1 unit
Delivery: 3 days
Description: In-dash car PC; 6.95in HD digital touchscreen; 800x480-pixel resolution; Telechips TCC89XX Arm11 multimedia processor; WinCE 6.0 OS; DVB-T, ISDB-T, CMMB; built-in Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G, iPod video connectivity; USB port, SD slot; 1080p HD movie playback; PIP

In-dash car PC

Shenzhen Joyous Electronics Ltd
mainland China

Model: J-8613
MOQ: 1 unit
Delivery:3 days
Description: In-dash car PC for VW Magotan; 7in HD digital touchscreen; 800x480 resolution; Telechips TCC89XX Arm11 multimedia processor; WinCE 6.0 OS; DVB-T, ISDB-T, CMMB; built-in Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G, iPod video connectivity; USB port, SD slot; 1080p HD movie playback; PIP

In-dash monitor

Stereo International Enterprise Co. Ltd

Model: I05
Description: In-dash monitor; 6.95in LCD touch control panel with 800x480 dpi digital resolution; 180-degree flat-down motorized mechanism; auto-bright adjustment; five AM, 18 FM channels with RDS; iPod support; rearview camera input, two RCA video output, one auxiliary input; built-in Bluetooth, equalizer, perpetual calendar, games; optional double-tuner DVB-T

Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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