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Pioneer AVIC-U310BT hits the right notes at the right price

The Pioneer AVIC-U310BT isn't perfect, but it meets most users' needs for navigation, hands-free calling, and digital audio playback at a very affordable price.

Check out the full AVIC-U310BT review. James Martin/CNET

When we last saw the AVIC-U310BT navigation and car audio receiver, Pioneer was telling us that its goal with the new entry-level AVIC model was to provide GPS navigation, digital audio and iPod integration, and Bluetooth hands-free at an affordable price. After spending time reviewing the U310BT, we're convinced that they've hit the mark.

The AVIC-U310BT is an easy-to-use device with many neat touches that extend its usability beyond that of more expensive competing units. For example, it doesn't just pair with your phone for hands-free calling, it automatically imports your contacts as well. The detachable touch screen is powered by a rechargeable battery, so it can be used outside of the vehicle to input destinations, save favorites, and plan multidestination routes.

However, the AVIC-U310BT isn't without its flaws, and it appears that Pioneer had to cut some corners to keep the unit's price down. Most heinously, the U310BT ships with a severely limited set of preloaded points of interest. We've never seen a GPS device not include a category for restaurants, but the AVIC-U310BT doesn't.

Pioneer AVIC-U310BT
The AVIC-U310BT is the entry point into the AVIC lineup. Pioneer

Fortunately, it's easy to add your own POIs with Pioneer's AVIC-Feeds software or with the purchase of a $100 SD card preloaded with a more complete set of POIs, but either way the additional cost in time or money puts a slight dent in the AVIC-U310BT's low MSRP of $599.

Check out the full Pioneer AVIC-U310BT navigation audio receiver review.