There are plenty of good reasons to want to have access to a tablet in the car (navigation first springs to mind), but I can't figure out why you'd want to block half of your car's windshield by hanging a massive 7- to 10-inch display to the forward glass. Still, the tried-and-true suction cup on glass is the easiest and most reversible way to hold your tech in place when stopping, going, and rounding bends, so when evaluating the Bracketron Universal Tablet Windshield Mount I focused on how well the cradle did its job, rather than how … Read more
The Pioneer AppRadio is one of our favorite car stereos thanks to its ability to display and control certain car-centric apps with its 7-inch touch screen in your dashboard. While the list of supported apps is long, it's far from all-inclusive. The AppRadio app on your smartphone powers the on-screen interface for the car stereo and acts as the gatekeeper, deciding what apps on your phone can be displayed. But what if you want to use a navigation app that isn't on the supported list? If you're an Android user and don't mind tinkering with your … Read more
Now in its third generation, the Pioneer AppRadio continues to grow. It's got even more smartphone connectivity options for its neat app-mirroring trick, now boasting simplified compatibility with MirrorLink phones. Listening to our pleas after the AppRadio 2's launch, Pioneer has finally unlocked Bluetooth audio streaming. (USB playback of MP3s is, sadly, still missing.) Its catalog of compatible apps has also been growing slowly, but steadily. This new generation also holds a new DVD/CD drive, an odd but welcome addition to a line of receivers so focused on being a hub for smartphone connectivity.
The box Looking … Read more
When most people think about a "car stereo," they're actually thinking about the receiver. Also known as the head unit or deck, the receiver is both the brain and heart of your car audio system and the bit that you'll directly interact with from behind the wheel. When you choose a receiver, you're also locking in your available audio sources, features, and the expandability of the rest of your car audio system.
So what should you look for when choosing for a new receiver? Here are the 7 attributes that we consider when recommending a … Read more
DETROIT -- With shorter life cycles, navigation and other features on phones tend to be more advanced than those found in cars. During the Detroit auto show, Panasonic showed off head unit concepts with navigation and entertainment powered by a connected phone.
Panasonic had on hand a head unit running its own, embedded infotainment system, one showing Android phone integration through MirrorLink, and a third also running navigation from an Android phone, but this one connected through CloudCar.
With both the MirrorLink and CloudCar implementations, navigation and entertainment functions running on the phone were translated to an appropriate interface for … Read more
Paul Mascarenas has been CTO at Ford for over three years now. Compared to the long history of the automobile that's barely a blip, yet these past three years have seen major advancements in the sorts of technology installed and offered inside a modern car. Many manufacturers have added more intelligence to their cars since 2010 than they did in the 10 years previous.
Not Ford. That isn't to say that the company hasn't made huge progress over the past three years, as it surely has, but the company was well ahead of the curve when it … Read more
LAS VEGAS -- The connected car brings many advantages to the driver, but will also mean degraded music quality as people increasingly use streaming audio-services. At CES 2014, Harman announced Signal Doctor, a digital signal processor technology that attempts to restore fidelity to compressed audio.
Typical digital audio tracks bought from Amazon and iTunes are compressed to 128 or 256Kbps, and streaming audio from the likes of Pandora and Spotify is often down to 64 or 96Kbps. That much compression means a lot of lost information from a music track, which diminishes the sound quality.
Signal Doctor analyzes the audio … Read more
Phone manufacturer ZTE and Nuance Communications, provider of a wide range of voice recognition software, are teaming up at CES 2014 to announce an updated and enhanced Car Mode application for ZTE's Android devices.
The ZTE Car Mode app will provide an eye-free, hands-free way to interact with these phones on the go. Nuance is providing new voice biometrics tech for the screen unlock, enabling the hardware to recognize a voice command from a specific person's voiceprint to activate and access different functions and modes without physical contact.
For example, as part of a new feature called Music … Read more
LAS VEGAS -- Two years ago, Audi showed off the cabin tech of a new A3 model at CES, long before the actual car was revealed. The company repeats this strategy at CES 2014, showing what it calls the Virtual Cockpit of the 2015 TT, before that car gets its global debut.
The Virtual Cockpit represents a big redesign for Audi's cabin electronics interface, called the Multimedia Interface (MMI), and will end up in other models as they receive major updates.
One of the biggest changes for this new interface has Audi dropping physical gauges in favor of an … Read more
Got a big ol' truck with a big ol' dashboard? Alpine Electronics of America has just announced a big ol' audio/video/navigation receiver to fill it. At a whopping 9 inches measured diagonally, the Alpine X009 that was unveiled today at CES 2014 is the largest of its kind in the North American aftermarket.
The X009 is so big that it's outside of the established DIN and double-DIN standards that have been used by the industry for decades, so it's not exactly universal. At launch, it will only be compatible with 2007-2013 GM trucks and 2007-2014 GM … Read more