OK, this one is perhaps the biggest news of the ABC Kids Expo from a carseat perspective.  It’s all-new, and it’s from a company new to child safety seats.  It’s the Prodigy from Summer Infant.  It’s not available yet, so please don’t contact them for information until next year!  It should appear at a Babies R Us store near you around January, 2011!

What’s the big deal?  First, it goes from 4-32 pounds and they say it should fit preemies well with their infant insert.  Next, it has an innovative mechanical ratchet system to tighten the LATCH strap or seatbelt.  It is reminiscent of a certain aftermarket product we know, but it’s built-in to the infant seat base and we had a chance to try it first hand.  It works very well!  Plus, it’s integrated into a digital display with smiley faces that tell you if the recline angle is acceptable and when the seatbelt or LATCH system is tight enough using the ratchet system for a good installation.  And last, but not least, it features IMMI/SafeGuard harness system components, including their new “Belt Tightening System” that automatically adjusts to the proper shoulder height and tightness.  The IMMI LATCH attachments have indicators to verify proper attachment to the vehicle as well.  The crotch strap has two positions, while the handle has three positions that may all be used in the vehicle.

It was impressive enough even in prototype form that I have to say it is “Best Exhibit in Show”.  Well, the fact that they had free food and beer may have swayed the judges a bit!  The Prodigy will retail at $179 for the infant seat with base, $299 in a travel system with the matching stroller (rated to 50 pounds) and $89 for an extra base with the patent pending digital display and tightening system.  No photos or videos were allowed, but we hope to have some stock images for you soon.

Like many established manufacturers, Summer Infant has also built a nice team with a lot of expertise in child passenger safety, including a CPST-Instructor advocate.  Granted, it was a prototype, but it looked very impressive already and we love to see innovations that advance ease-of-use to keep kids safe.  We also hope to have a review in the not-to-distant future!  Until then, we ask that you please don’t pester them for more details until the official launch early next year when the Prodigy will be available.