Initially to be made available in 12 2008 models across the Ford family and across the entire 2009 lineup from FoMoCo, Sync is a fully integrated, flash memory-based system that enables drivers to call hands-free and to control a range of digital audio via voice commands and buttons mounted on the steering wheel. The system is based on a Microsoft Auto operating system made up of an ARM 11 processor, 64MB of DRAM, and 256MB of flash memory. Its most advanced feature is the ability to understand voice commands for individual tracks and artists. Sync will make its debut in 2008 Ford models in the fall this year.
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The Pioneer Z2 builds on the basic design of the Z1 and offers an upgraded mapping database with 45 million addresses listed by GPS coordinates. Like the Z1, the Z2 also incorporates a range of advanced navigation features like a learning capability, which remembers roads frequently traveled by the driver and incorporates these preferences into suggested routes when applicable. It also has a smart routing algorithm that takes into account factors such as posted speed limits and the number of turns to reach the destination, to give a more accurate estimate of journey time; and lane information for 50 areas of the country, which advises drivers of the correct driving lane they should be in for passage through interchanges and exits. Look for the Z2 sometime in April.
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Dash Navigation's Dash Express takes GPS navigation to the next level. With its two-way connectivity--giving it access to other Dash units--as well as its preprogrammed, historic traffic-flow data, Dash Express has the potential to provide drivers with real real-time traffic information. Its Yahoo Local search gives drivers access to a points-of-interest database as big as the Web itself, and Dash throws in neat features such as the ability to search for gas stations by fuel price and for movie theaters by showtime. We're told that Dash Express should go on sale nationwide sometime this fall.
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Alpine's IVA-W205 combines with the Blackbird PMD B200 portable GPS unit in a unique way. Instead of requiring drivers to attach the portable unit to the front of the installed cradle, the IVA-W205 actually swallows the portable navigation unit, with the latter slotting in cartridge-like behind the installed unit's fold-up screen.
The IVA-W205 is also a versatile multimedia player in its own right: it has all of the media playback capabilities of the IVA-W200 we reviewed a couple of months ago (DVD video, CD, WMA, MP3; add-on modules for iPod, satellite, and HD radio), plus a much-needed update to its add-on Bluetooth module. The IVA-W205 ships in spring 2007.
Photo by: Alpine
The Alpine IDA-X001 is a car stereo that's tailor-made for Apple fanboys. It's so iPod-centric in fact, that it doesn't even have a CD slot. Instead, it has a USB input to allow drivers to connect digitally to their fifth-generation iPods. The digital connection results in a transfer rate of 480Mbps (as a contrast, Alpine's previous "full-speed" digital-to-analog iPod adapter managed a paltry 19.2 Kbps). As well as displaying all of the familiar iPod menus in their original fonts (Apple was drafted to consult on the unit's design), the IDA-X001's color LCD screen reproduces full album art in a choice of two sizes. Look out for the IDA-X001 in April.
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The KD-NX5000 is an impressive navigation-enabled car stereo. Its 16GB hard-drive-based navigation system contains 13 million points of interest and comes with a built-in RDS-TMC traffic tuner to give drivers real-time traffic information. The system provides turn-by-turn voice guidance, with maps displayed on its 3.5-inch color LCD screen in either 2D or 3D.
Media options include DVD video and MP3-, WMA- and WAV-format digital audio. The remainder of the 40GB hard drive (that's 24GB) is allocated to drivers to create a personal media library. We're looking forward to getting our hands on a review unit of the KD-NX5000.
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On show at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, this International CXT 7300 was equipped with the TracVision A7, which enabled the monster truck to play TV on a display mounted below the tailgate. A perfect viewing experience for those stuck in traffic behind the world's biggest pickup truck.
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The VMOD was first unveiled at the SEMA show at the end of last year and is the closest thing to a comprehensive media hub for you car that we've seen. Running on an Intel Celeron M processor and packing 40GB of storage space, the VMOD can be used to store all kinds of media content from videos to music to photographs. Visual media can then be played back via your car's in-dash or rear-seat display. The VMOD also comes with Wi-Fi capabilities and a PCMCIA slot, and so it can be used to turn your car into a wireless network with an EVDO card from Sprint or Verizon. The VMOD will be available at the end of the first quarter of 2007.
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The Azentek Atlas is a double-DIN system that fits into your car's dashboard and gives you all of the functionality of a Windows PC from the driver's seat. The Atlas, which makes use of iMobile software, packs an Intel Core Duo processor and comes with 512MB of RAM memory and a Seagate automotive-grade 40GB hard drive. It also comes with built-in GPS with turn-by-turn navigation and maps provided by TeleAtlas. The 6.5-inch touch screen display is controlled by a stick point control with right and left mouse-click capabilities and the touch screen. Internet connectivity is provided either by the integrated WLAN antenna, EV-DO, or GPRS uplinks.
As well as being a mobile, Web-connected PC (it will even read out e-mails and instant messages as they arrive in your in-box), the Atlas acts as a mobile multimedia player. It organizes and plays CDs, MP3s, WMAs, and DVD videos, plays files from portable media players via a USB 2.0 port, and can be connected to XM and Sirius satellite radio with the help of add-on modules. A personal digital assistant also provides an integrated scheduler and an address book.
We're told that Atlas will ship in March with Windows Vista.
Photo by: Azentek
The XDVDN8290 is an SD card-based navigation system and multimedia player, which features a 6.5-inch motorized touch screen display. In addition to its turn-by-turn voice guidance for navigation, the XDVDN8290 plays DVDs, CDs, and MP3- and WMA-encoded discs.
Dual's IPlug interface also enables drivers to have direct touch screen control over digital music files on their connected iPods. The double-DIN unit also features a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface with built-in microphone, auxiliary A/V inputs for video, and a generic 3.5-inch jack for non-iPod MP3 players.
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The AVN2210p is an in-dash navigation and multimedia system that doubles as a handheld portable navigation device. The system comes in two parts, with a standalone portable navigation device, similar to the TomTom One, slotting into a double-DIN-sized audio unit installed in a car's dash. The AVN 2210p's SD card-based navigation system features real-time traffic information as part of TomTom's optional service package and can be updated by downloading maps from the Internet. The navigation system provides 3D maps and turn-by-turn voice directions, which play either through the car's speakers (when the system is docked), or via a built-in speaker (when the unit is detached).
When docked in the audio bezel, the 3.5-inch touch screen navigation unit acts as a control interface for all of the AVN2210p's audio and communication features.
The AVN2210p is compatible with iPods (an iPod dock transfers controls for song selection and playback to the unit's touch screen), and it can be used as a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface with the addition of an optional module. It can also be used as a receiver for either XM or Sirius satellite radio with separate subscriptions. The AVN 2210p is expected to ship in May or June this year.
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Harman takes a leap into the navigation market with its Guide + Play GPS-500. Similar to most portable navigation devices, the GPS-500 is more than a digital wayfinder: it can play a range of audio (MP3/AAC/WMA) and video (MPEG-4/WMV9) media formats and will even display album artwork in glorious Technicolor. Media is played from a 4GB SD card that slots into the top of the bezel. Maps and movies are displayed on the unit's 4-inch wide-screen touch screen display, which presents a crisp series of menus for programming navigation or selecting media.
Navigation features include a route simulator, (which lets drivers preview a route before setting out) and 2D, 3D, and split-screen views. Harman reps tell us that the device also features text-to-speech technology, which will enable it to read out road names during turn-by-turn voice guidance.
Photo by: Harman
Harman has come a long way with its second generation Drive+Play. While its predecessor enabled drivers to control their iPods without fumbling around with the player itself, it featured a rather feeble 2.5-inch monochrome display and a clunky mechanical control knob. The Drive + Play 2 improves on this with a wireless control knob and a 3.5-inch color display that presents clear song-selection menus. The Drive+Play 2 also broadens the field of in-car digital playback, as it can be used to control all portable media devices, including the Microsoft Zune. Most impressively, the system contains software for recognizing specific genres of music and constructing channels comprised of tracks with a similar acoustic style. Like most in-car interfaces nowadays, it also can be used as a Bluetooth interface and satellite radio receiver with add-on modules. Look for in--you guessed it--spring 2007.
Photo by: Harman
Developed in collaboration with DirecTV, the KVH TracVision A7 enables drivers to pick up 185 channels--including local network stations--in their cars. To do this, the system incorporates a GPS interface that automatically enables regional-specific network channels when you're on home turf. The A7 costs $2,900, excluding in-car displays, although it does work with nearly all manufacturer-installed screens. The hefty, 48-pound roof-mounted, dome-shaped antenna is best suited for SUVs or minivans. Mobile TV junkies will be pleased to know that it's already on sale.
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The CDX-GT81UW is the flagship of four new stereo head units that Sony is introducing for 2007. Following the trend to USB inputs we've seen elsewhere, the CDX-GT81UW comes with a USB 2.0 port built into the faceplate to enable playback of digital music files from a thumbdrive or a digital walkman. The single DIN-sized unit plays CDs and MP3 discs, which are inserted in a slot behind its motorized faceplate. It also has a generic auxiliary-input jack, and 4-volt front, rear, and sub preamp outputs. The CDX-GT81UW is on sale now for around $250.