LAS VEGAS--Pioneer's smartphone-centric AppRadio impressed us when it launched last year, but we had our complaints. We wanted more apps, better hardware, and Android support.
At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, that's exactly what we got with the announcement of Pioneer's AppRadio 2.
The most interesting new trick in this second-generation hardware's bag is Pioneer's announcement of support for Android devices, specifically those that are equipped with either a Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) or Micro-HDMI connection. This is an interesting twist, as I assumed that Pioneer would be taking the wireless Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP) route when it eventually added Android support, but apparently the AppRadio needs the additional bandwidth afforded by a physical HD video connection. I'll be interested to see just how this works when I get my hands on the hardware later this week.
Speaking of hardware, the AppRadio 2 improves with a larger 7-inch glass touch screen (up from the 6.2-inch display of the original) retaining the capacitive sensitivity and multitouch functionality. AppRadio 2 retains its Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, optional rearview camera input, and support for adding steering-wheel controls, but boosts the number of preamp outputs to two--enabling more flexibility in system building than the first-generation's single output.
Finally, Pioneer announced that it would be adding an Advanced App Mode to its double-DIN AVIC-X940BT and AVIC-Z140BH navigation receivers and the AVH-P8400BH DVD receiver, which adds the AppRadio's functionality, iOS, and Android connectivity to these conventional receivers, which is great because the AppRadio 1 and 2 units lack CD/DVD drives and onboard GPS navigation.
The AppRadio 2 will retail for $499 when it hits the market in April. Additionally, the original AppRadio will continue to be sold alongside the new unit with updated software for 2012, but without the new Android phone support, for the same $399 MSRP.