Pioneer'shas set the standard for in-dash navigation devices over the past couple of years, and so the release of a new line of a new family of products in the AVIC series is big news for car tech fans. The line-up starts with the entry-level AVIC-F700BT, which features a single CD/CD-R/RW playback mechanism, followed by the AVIC-F900BT and the AVIC-F90BT, which are both capable of reading MP3, WMA, iTunes AAC, and WAV audio formats as well as DVD, DivX, and MPEG4 video files.
Unveiled this week, all of the F-Series include flash-memory-based navigation and the capability to deliver real-time traffic, weather, and gasoline prices via a connection to MSN Direct. Each of the three new in-dash units features a 5.8-inch high-resolution WVGA touch-panel display; a USB interface for quick connection to iPod music players, portable media players, and USB memory devices; and an SD-card slot for loading additional Points of Interest information or compressed audio and video files. The devices also feature an advanced speech-recognition interface for hands-free calling and media playback selection. Developed by VoiceBox, the voice-recognition system is able to understand conversational directions for making phone calls and selecting audio playback options. Pioneer claims that the interface can even discern a voice command that is complicated by pauses or hesitation, such as a command like: "I want to, ah, play artist, um, Black Eyed Peas." If it works as advertised, the technology will go one better thansystem, which holds the current crown for voice-command usability.
Look out for the AVIC-F700BT, the AVIC-F900BT, and the Premier AVIC-F90BT to hit the shelves in June with price tags of $850, $1,100, and $1,200 respectively.