Las Vegas - 2012 will be the year of the connected car if Pioneer has anything to say about it. During today's press conference, Pioneer revealed a variety of new products including two new navigation systems, in-car touchscreen displays, and new smartphone-powered audio systems. The company's revamped in-car audio system, AppRadio 2, was unveiled.
AppRadio 2 is an inch larger than its 6 inch predecessor. In addition to iOS support, the 7-inch 800 x 480p capacitve display, has added support for Android smartphones. Android phones equipped with Mobile High Definition Link or a microHD port can interact with their smartphone via the 7-inch touchscreen display. AppRadio 2 has built-in Bluetooth enabling drivers to use hands-free calling. There are also inputs for a rear-mounted vehicle back up camera and interaction with the control systems integrated into the steering wheel making for safer, distraction-free driving. Drivers can also access their smartphone's functions including data and connectivity via the display using the free Pioneer AppRadio and compatible third-party apps. Users can also control music playback including the FM/AM radio.
Pioneer also divulged details on five new multimedia receievers. While the hardware specs on some the models were intriguing, it was the number of different features that got our motors revving. One such feature was MIXTRAX. music management software that takes a user's music catalog and automatically creates nonstop playlists based on BPM (Beats Per Minute), tempo and other characterstics. App Mode is another cool feature that can stream video from YouTube and iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on Safari as long as the car is in park with the hand brake engaged. There's also Bluetooth connectivity with specialized profiles, one handles hands-free calling while another enables wireless audio streaming. The remaining profile enables wireless controls of devices like smartphones that can be viewed on the in-dash display.
Two new navigation systems were also announced during the press event. The AVIC-Z140BH and AVIC-X940BT systems combine navigation, infotainment, and connectivity. The AVIC-X940BT features a 6.1-inch touchscreen display 4GH of flash memory,a 3D graphics accelerator; DVD playback; and Dual Zone capability for independent rear seat audio/video playback. There's also built-in Bluetooth, USB and HD Radio connectivity and a slot for a microSD card. The AVIC-Z140BH has the same features but has a 7-inch screen.
Both systems offer Pioneer Advanced App Mode for enhanced smartphone integration and wireless app control similar to AppRadi0 2. There is also a free subscription to Channel’s Total Traffic Network service, Pandora Radio, and the Aha Radio app which lets drivers check out to road conditions on current or planned roads as well as Twitter and Facebook updates.
The AVIC-X940BT and AVIC-Z140BH will be available in April for suggested prices of $800 and $1,200 respectively. AppRadio 2 will retail at the suggested price of $499.
Pioneer reps also hinted at an announcement concerning its Platform for the Aggregation of Internet Services (PAIS) would be made later in the day by automaker Scion during the Detroit Auto Show.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.