Bose couldn't have a better setting to show off its new Media System, which will be offered as an infotainment option in the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. The 612 is Ferrari's 2+2 seat coupe and is powered by a 6-liter V12, which makes that wonderful Ferrari music.
Previous 612s had a small stereo with a six-disc changer cleverly hidden behind a hatch in the center stack. In contrast, the Bose Media System shows off its LCD proudly. The faceplate includes a USB port and a single disc slot. Music can be copied from USB keys or ripped from discs onto the system's 30GB hard disk, which also holds navigation data. The steering wheel also has a voice-command button, for activating the Bluetooth handsfree calling interface. Media System copies over address books of paired phones and lets the driver dial by the names of his contacts.
Bose kept the interface simple, using a standard two-dial radio layout. The left knob controls volume, while the right knob is used for making selections. Both knobs include an inner and outer dial. On the right knob, the inner dial navigates lists, while the outer dial navigates categories. This interface paradigm is used for music and navigation.
By default, the Media System shows a map. If you move your hand toward the selection dial, a proximity sensor causes a selection window to pop up for whatever music source is currently playing. The Bose Media System can play music from its hard drive, a disc (which can be either a CD or a DVD that holds almost any format of music), an iPod, satellite radio, or a regular terrestrial radio.
The interface is the same no matter which music source you choose, although categories depend on the source. For example, you could select genre, album, artist, or track from an MP3 CD, from Media System's own hard drive, or from an iPod. When listening to satellite radio, you can choose category and individual stations. Terrestrial radio gives you the option of selecting only from the strongest stations, and also has a genre selection list for stations that broadcast a radio data signal.
Bose borrowed a technology called uMusic from its home stereos. uMusic works like a personal DJ. If you don't like a song that's playing, you can hit the minus button. You can also hit the plus button for songs you like. The system uses an algorithm to find similar music to what you like. Over time, your uMusic preset will learn what music you like to hear.
To enter destinations into the navigation system, you have to choose one letter at a time with the rotary dial. Bose tries to make this process less tedious with predictive entry, lists, and a progress bar. The list of possible cities or streets gets narrowed down as you enter letters, and the progress bar lets you know when the list is manageable enough to so you can stop entering letters and choose from the list.
Once you find your city or street on the list, push the knob to select it, just as with the music interface. Media System's navigation also shows live traffic from both XM satellite radio and RDS radio traffic band. Although Ferrari is the first automaker to offer Media System, Bose is working with its many other partners in the automotive world. Hopefully we'll see Media System offered in more attainable cars.