The '06 Consumer Electronics Show illustrated the growing consolidation in the ICE industry, as several manufacturers de-emphasized their mobile electronics offerings. iPod connectivity continued to dominate the product front, as almost every major manufacturer introduced new products that worked to simplify the integration of your iPod to your truck's audio system, aftermarket or OEM.
And speaking of OEM integration, that was the hot button issue at this year's CES. It seems that the ICE manufacturers at long last have woken up to the fact that the OEMs have finally been successful in taking access to the dashboard away from the aftermarket, with the increasing proliferation of fully integrated, difficult-to-upgrade or -replace head units on most new vehicles. This trend will only accelerate, now confined to mid- and high-level trucks, to lower-priced or entry-level pickups and SUVs.
Weighing in at 26 pounds and featuring a user-replaceable voice coil, the SPG555 from Bost
These versatile, high-end OEM integration components-the first appeared in 2005 with JL Audio's Cleansweep-now include competitive units from Alpine, Kenwood, and Rockford Fosgate, with more on the way. Not only do these components serve as a portal to the factory head unit, allowing the addition of upgraded speakers and amplifiers, but they also include additional inputs for integrating your iPod and adding more sources such as satellite radio.
Satellite radio continued to be a major battleground. XM touted more than six million subscribers, while Sirius maintains a cool three million, powered in part by the movement of Howard Stern to the new medium. And finally, in a paradigm shift, navigation moved to the mass market as the market continued its movement from dedicated, installed platforms to portable units that can move from vehicle to vehicle; even Alpine introduced a portable unit that can be used with your existing in-dash monitor.
Dave "Fishman" Rivera's daily driver Ford Explorer was this year's top truck at CES.
On the demo truck front, the pickings were slimmer than in years past. While Hummers continued to be popular, their numbers were down in comparison to previous years, replaced by Chrysler 300Cs and Dodge Magnums at many booths, mirroring the general new vehicle marketplace in response to last summer's spike in fuel prices following Hurricane Katrina. But, one truck stood out, David "Fishman" Rivera's elegant Ford Expedition. While toned down from his past, over-the-top efforts, his Expedition daily driver showed great balance between cutting-edge and practicality, and it was in view of many observers, becoming this year's top truck at CES.
As in the past, most of the new products pictured here should appear soon at your local ICE specialist, as well as at chain superstores, such as Best Buy and Circuit City, and tweeter along with mail/online specialist Crutchfield. Happy hunting for that new system that will make your truck really rock.