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Audiovox's Android RSE finds a home at Bentley (update: Bentley denies)

The next generation of Bentley ultraluxury vehicles will be available with Android inside.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET
2011 Bentley Mulsanne
The next generation of Bentley ultraluxury vehicles will be available with Android inside, courtesy of Audiovox. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Some say that rear-seat entertainment (RSE) systems will go the way of the dodo with the proliferation of cheap tablets. Audiovox, supplier of aftermarket and OEM car electronics, appears to be hedging its bets in the belief that tablets and RSE will somehow merge, with the announcement that it will be shipping an Android-based RSE to Bentley.

We got our first look at what Audiovox's Android-based RSE might look like at CES 2011. The model we saw lacked polish, basically stretching Google's Android 2.1 interface onto a 7-inch touch screen. Time will tell whether the OEM units Audiovox will supply to Bentley will be based on the newer Android 3.x OS (Honeycomb) or run a custom-skinned interface unique to Bentley vehicles.

What we do know is that Android RSE units will feature built-in Wi-Fi for use with a personal hot spot or tethered smartphone, will behave more or less like a tablet embedded in the vehicle's headrest, and will cost about 10 percent more than a standard DVD headrest system. In Bentley dollars (based on options for the 2011 Continental Flying Spur), that works out to about $9,000. (Ka-ching!) Expect to see Bentley's new Android option as early as December 2011.

Update: We've just been contacted by a representative from Bentley with the following statement, "We are working with Audiovox to enhancing our rear-seat entertainment systems, but this does not currently include an Android-based system offering on Bentley models."

Source: CE Outlook