Harman Kardon introduces ‘Drive+Play’ car audio solution for Apple iPod

Harman Kardon today unveiled the Harman Kardon Drive + Play, an integrated iPod docking system specifically designed for automotive use. Drive + Play provides complete iPod control, including full browsing capability, while minimizing distractions for drivers.

“More than half of all iPod owners use their players in the car, and we know many are frustrated with the current auto solutions available because they’re hard to use and offer limited functionality,” said Mike Giffin, president of the Mobile Systems Division for Harman Consumer Group in the press release. “Our goal in developing Drive + Play was simple — create a product that reproduces the iPod experience in any car while providing an array of options, including a line-level output, for connecting the iPod’s audio signal to a vehicle’s audio system, to offer consumers the most enjoyable way of taking their music on the road.”

The Harman Kardon Drive + Play system includes these integrated components:

1. A backlit LCD screen, large enough to present five lines of iPod menu text, yet small enough to be mounted anywhere it can be easily viewed by the driver. The pivoting mount can be attached to the display in any of three positions and provides the user a full range of adjustability.

2. A five-button navigation control unit with universal mounting options mimics the iPod’s user interface and can be mounted on the center console or other location for easy access while driving. The controller features four buttons that control the play/pause, forward, backward and iPod menu functions; a rotating dial around the perimeter that can be used for forward and backward scrolling; and a center button for the “enter” command.

3. “The brain” serves as an information processor and connecting port. The brain houses a wireless FM modulator with five factory-set frequencies and one definable by the user; a 3.5mm audio output jack that connects Drive + Play to any vehicle that has an auxiliary input; and an auxiliary input that allows the user to use Drive + Play to route other audio signals, including satellite radio, into the vehicle’s audio system.

Drive + Play also charges the iPod when docked, displays customized user menus such as playlists and user preferences, and shuts itself off when not in use.

Harman Kardon Drive + Play is compatible with all docking iPods. The system includes a wireless FM modulator, and a 3.5mm audio output jack that allows Drive + Play to be connected to any vehicle regardless of the make or model. Harman Kardon Drive + Play, with a suggested retail price of $199.95, will be available in the U.S., beginning in September 2005, at quality retailers nationwide and at http://www.harmankardon.com/drive. Drive + Play will also be available in European and Asian markets later this fall.

MacDailyNews Note: The link was provided by Harmon Kardon via their press release. It does not seem to be working, yet.

18 Comments

  1. also can transmit to the auxillary jack.. Looking forward to seeing it….

    “a 3.5mm audio output jack that connects Drive + Play to any vehicle that has an auxiliary input; and an auxiliary input that allows the user to use Drive + Play to route other audio signals, including satellite radio, into the vehicle’s audio system.”

  2. Oh, an extra $70 gets a direct connection. My bad.

    Still, seems a bit clunky. Many places it can break (down). Universality makes for difficult design. Just ask Microsoft.

  3. How hard would it be to add an auxillary line level stereo input to most existing car stereos? Some kid in a car stereo install place is probably laughing at us spending all this cash to try to get our iPod into our car system. Probably 3 bucks at radio shack and 10 min under the dash?

    I tried FM and just couldn’t take the loss in quality. There must be kits to do so I am guessing. Off to Google…

  4. I’ve tried using FM modulators in-car, and they always seem to fail
    a) in large cities with lots of radio stations (legal and pirate), so finding a clear channel to transmit on it difficult, and
    b) fiddly to retune when on the move. (thinking iTrip specifically here)

    I’ve got a Dension IceLink and it works fine, as long as you don’t expect your older headunit to display song info, etc

  5. How freakin’ hard is it to just design a receiver/iPod head unit that just replaces my existing receiver/cd/tape player? Apparently it’s impossible. I don’t want another screen and another set of controls.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.