The Good A user-friendly touch-screen interface and a decent voice-recognition system combine with intelligent navigation and Bluetooth to make the AVIC Z-1 a one-stop shop for major cabin tech.
The Bad The need to activate the parking brake to program the navigation is overly cautious, and some delays in start-up and music playback can be frustrating.
The Bottom Line The Pioneer AVIC Z-1 is an impressive all-in-one aftermarket head unit incorporating most of today's in-car technology features. Despite a few usability glitches, it is a competitively priced car tech package.
Pioneer AVIC Z-1
When we got our first look at the Pioneer AVIC-Z1 head unit at CES 2006, we were impressed. The double-DIN in-dash system incorporates a 7-inch touch screen and brings in all the functions you would expect to see in a top-of-the-line factory-installed head unit: Bluetooth cell phone integration, voice-activated GPS navigation, and a range of audiovisual media playback options.
And the AVIC Z-1 goes one better by incorporating a built-in 30GB hard drive enabling users to rip CDs to disc to create a mobile media library. There are those who will question the value of such a function, considering the fact that most people who are interested in creating music libraries will probably already have one on their computers and/or on their iPods. The AVIC Z-1 addresses the latter by offering a dedicated iPod interface, which enables those in the car to devolve control of their iPods to the touch screen while driving. (As usual, we expect there will be howls of disapproval from owners of portable digital music players other than the iPod, but at the moment it looks like Apple is the only one making the vendor deals.)
For our test-bench review of the AVIC Z-1, we got a number of the available add-ons, including the Bluetooth and iPod adapters. Wiring up the main head unit is pretty straightforward, and we managed connect it to four main speakers and its additional media modules without the need for any special equipment. In addition to the four standard speakers, the unit has separate RCA connectors for two more pairs of speakers and a subwoofer, all of which require separate amplifiers. There are also RCA connections for a rear video display, external video components, and a rearview camera, which is sold separately.