Pioneer used the first morning of press conferences here at CES 2008 to unveil the latest in its range of AVIC in-car navigation devices. The touch-screen AVIC-F500BT dubbefd "LINC" by Pioneers engineers, follows the recent in-car "hybrid" trend of combining the flexibility of a portable navigation device with the audio integration of an in-dash system, while providing some innovative voice-recognition capabilities. The system, which has built-in GPS and mapping data, Bluetooth, and USB and SD-card playback capabilities--can act as a standalone portable navigation and media device or can be connected to any car stereo with an auxiliary input jack. For stereos without an aux input, the system can be connected to an existing head unit using a dedicated Pioneer adapter module. When connected to an existing car stereo, the device can be snapped into a rather snazzy-looking cradle on a car's dashboard, giving it a well-integrated appearance.
The AVIC-F500BT offers most of the goodies found in Pioneer's previous AVIC devices, including text-to-speech functionality and 3D map view, while adding a number of advanced navigation features including a subscription-based information service from MSN direct providing updates on traffic, gas prices and movie times in 100 cities across North America as well as the facility to update the POI database using the SD card.
The main innovation of the AVIC-F500BT is its enhanced voice-command capabilities. Drivers can use the F500BT's built-in Voicebox technology to control and request music from a connected iPod and to make calls via a Bluetooth-connected cell phone. In contrast to the formulaic voice commands required by most factory-installed and aftermarket systems, VoiceBox technology allows drivers to request songs and contacts using conversational commands and intent-based commands. Rather than requesting an audio track by number or using a prescribed word order, users can ask for music in a more conversational way ("play U2" and "I want to hear some U2" will apparently achieve the same result). We're looking forward to getting our hands on one of these over the next couple of days here at CES; customers can expect the AVIC F500BT to hit the shelves in Spring 2008.