updated 01:10 am EST, Fri January 7, 2011
Sony, Kenwood and Pioneer's flagship head units
In the midst of a hall packed with countless car audio and multimedia devices were the latest offerings to come from major brands such as Pioneer, Kenwood and Sony. While some brands appear to have followed more of an evolutionary path than revolutionary, others, like Sony, have revealed new head units with substantially more technology than was available just last year.
Sony teams up with TomTom
Sony's flagship navigation unit for 2011 comes in the form of the XNV-770BT, which is an all-new device that features fully integrated TomTom-based navigation and maps and a removable cartridge. This is an example of a revolutionary product for Sony, as there was no product in 2010 that shared the XNV's approach to navigation.
This unit is also motorized for flip-out action, but still takes up a full two-din space and features a seven-inch WVGA touch screen. As expected, this model also features iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as four-volt pre-outs and a built-in amp.
The XNV-770BT retails for $1,299.95 and is available now.
Pioneer goes bananas for Apple
While Sony decided to team up with TomTom for its latest navigation head unit, Pioneer decided to turn its flagship navigation units into extensions of the iPhone - essentially creating user-friendly docking stations that can make use of the many apps already developed for the mobile phone.
While iPhone's navigation feature might function well for a walk downtown, or in the hands of a passenger relaying the information, Pioneer decided to integrate the iPhone into its AVIC-Z130BT and AVIC-X930BTin-dash navigation models so that the driver could utilize smartphone connectivity to Aha Radio for Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, traffic, podcasts, Pandora internet radio and App Mode.
"By providing a larger touchscreen unit installed in the dash that features a user interface specifically designed for the automotive environment and complemented by voice control features, we reduce the risk of distraction while driving," said Ted Cardenas, director of marketing for the car electronics division of Pioneer.
The higher-end model of the two, the AVIC-Z130BT, also features 4 GB of flash memory, a seven-inch WVGA touch screen display, a 3D graphics accelerator, DVD playback and more.
The AVIC-X930BT will be available in March, while the AVIC-Z130BT will be available in April for suggested prices of $800 and $1,200, respectively.
Kenwood kicks it up a notch for 2011
For its 2011 lineup Kenwood has a broad range of models, with traditional single-din units as well as double-din navigation devices. Kenwood decided to take a similar route to both Sony and Pioneer - combined - by creating the DNX9980HD flagship navigation unit that features both iPhone integration as well as outside help from a navigation specialist or two with Germin navigation and Navteq Traffic integration.
Other key features for the device include a 6.95-inch WVGA motorized screen, voice recognition, HD radio, five-volt pre-outs and a 5.1-channel surround sound processor with DTA control.
This unit will retail for $2,00 and is expected to hit shelves in March of this year.
Pioneer AVIC-X930BT and AVIC-Z130BT