Here is the first of our new product announcements for today.  It’s the Graco Smart Seat, a true rear-facing to forward-facing to booster seat!  Unfortunately, there was only a sneak peek at the show.  Kecia or I will be attending the official launch in Atlanta on November 2nd.  Short of slipping them a Hamilton or Franklin, we did our best to convince them to allow us to take some photos and video, but it was still in prototype trim so the great people at Graco provided us some stock photography for your perusal.  Fortunately, we can share some of the details!

It will arrive at Babies R Us and/or Toys R Us in February of 2011.  There will be at least one neutral fabric and one girly fabric.  It will start at $299 and an upscale version with additional padding and inserts will retail at $329.  An extra base will be $99.  Base, you ask?  Yes, it’s a steel-reinforced base that installs with a seatbelt or lower attachments.  You install the base once and then the actual seat can be removed from the base like an infant seat to change it from rear-facing to forward-facing!  A heavy duty locking system and fool-proof indicator make sure the seat is correctly attached at all times.  The base is not used in booster mode.  While the base is quite wide overall, the seatbelt routing path is internal and much narrower so it should be compatible with more vehicles in terms of getting a good installation.  The lockoff system looked similar in appearance to the one on the Snugride 35.  The LATCH attachments are heavy-duty extra width hooks with a tilt-lock adjuster.

Ratings?  5-40 pounds rear-facing.  20-65 pounds forward-facing.  30-100 pounds as a belt positioning booster.  An internal harness and head restraint system has 6 height positions.  We were unable to take measurements on the prototype, but it does not appear that it will have unusually low or top harness settings.  Rear-facing height limits are based on the child’s head being 1″ from the top of the shell, rather than the adjustable head restraint section.  The shell appeared to be similar in height to the Graco My Ride, but we could not tell for sure.

Once installed, there is a 5-position recline system built into the seat that can be changed on the fly when forward or rear-facing.  There’s a single cupholder and flip-up armrests.  A level bubble is built-in to make sure you have the correct angle for babies.  There are two adjustments for the crotch strap depth.  EPS foam lines the area around the head.  The seat itself has tubular steel re-inforcements and like the base, it is relatively wide.  The harness is not removed completely for booster mode, but rather it pulls through the cover andstows away in a compartment behind the cover.

Beyond that, we can’t tell you a whole lot just yet, but we hope to learn more in the next month or two!