updated 12:25 pm EST, Wed January 9, 2008
Pioneer GPS at CES
Pioneer at CES has unveiled a slew of in-car devices for both navigation and music, including a unique hybrid device that can work outside of the car. The AVIC-F500BT (pictured) is tailored for drivers who want the features of an in-dash GPS and stereo unit but also the ability to take it on the road; although the 5.8-inch touchscreen device can connect to an existing head-end unit through an auxiliary input jack or a mounting kit, it can also detach and run independently on a battery.
While designed for navigation, the new AVIC also functions as an advanced stereo, Pioneer says. A USB port is present as on many recent devices to accept input from portable players but becomes more useful when an iPod is plugged in; an advanced voice command system not only accepts spoken instructions for the Apple players' music and video but is sufficiently intelligent to recognize a conversational tone, including unintentional pauses or different ways of expressing the same command. This also applies to a built-in Bluetooth hands-free calling system that can recognize contacts' names and their particular phone numbers to place a call with the owner's cellphone.
The GPS device can load music and maps through SD cards. As a navigator, it stores full maps of Canada and the US (including islands) and provides a 3D mode as well as text-to-speech for street names. An optional MSN Direct subscription will also provide basic data such as traffic, weather, and gas prices through the GPS link. Pioneer has not set a price for the F500BT but plans to ship the GPS device in the spring.
Two more conventional in-dash navigators, the 6.1-inch AVH-P4000DVD and 7-inch AVH-P5000DVD, remain fixed in place but allow touchscreen control and display of iPod content. Each can also play generic USB media players as well as AAC, MP3, or WMA-loaded music CDs and DVDs in addition to DVD videos. Bluetooth and satellite radio adapters are optional for the double- and single-slot devices, which sell in March for $500 and $600 respectively.
Pioneer is wrapping up its car stereo efforts with twelve music-only CD player and digital receiver combos for vehicles. All play AAC, MP3, and WMA tracks natively but most mid- and high-end models also include a USB connector for playing handheld media sources. With iPods, the stereo mimics the iPod's own interface, according to the company. Four models (the FH-P8000BT, FH-P800BT, DEH-P7000BT and DEH-P700BT) all sport Bluetooth hands-free calling, while most models can accept adapters for HD Radio and satellite radio. Nearly every unit includes an auxiliary input jack. Pioneer has not announced ship dates or pricing for these units.