In addition to its announcement of new navigation units, Sony announced four new car stereo receivers on Wednesday.
At the top of the new lineup is the CDX-GT630UI ($160), a unit that Sony touts as its first car stereo that connects to iPods/iPhones and USB devices via a USB connection. Our experience is that in the past, Sony head units either supported USB or iPod via a 30-pin dock connector, but not both. Interestingly, the GT630UI's USB port appears to be located directly on the faceplate, which solves the problem of routing a USB pigtail during installation and allows a thumb drive to be popped right into the front, but creates the issue of an unsightly USB cable (or iPod sync cable) sticking out of the front of the unit.
Sony's included a few tricks to help users navigate the gigabytes of MP3, non-DRM AAC, and non-DRM WMA-encoded digital audio they'll be connecting. First up is Sony's new ZAPPIN function that operates similarly to the scan function of many FM radios. The unit scans the attached media, playing short music clips until the listener finds the song she wants. For smaller devices, such as USB thumb drives, where there's not a ton of music to sort through, this could prove useful, but sorting through the 4,000-plus songs on our iPod would probably be slow going. Sony has also included its Quick Browzer that we saw in use on the CDX-GT920U and a Jump Mode feature that lets users quickly search large libraries. A passenger-control feature allows the iPod to be directly controlled while plugged in.
The next model in Sony's lineup is the CDX-GT430IP ($130). The "IP" at the end of the model number means this model is specifically designed to interface with the iPod/iPhone and drops its USB connection in favor of a 30-pin dock-connector pigtail. The GT430IP keeps the ZAPPIN, Quick Browzer, and Jump-mode tech of its sibling.
Further down the lineup is the CDX-GT330 ($100), which loses USB/iPod connectivity altogether, but still supports MP3 and non-DRM WMA playback, presumably via CD. iPod connectivity can be restored through the addition of an iPod adapter, but the $50 cost would make the GT330 more expensive than the GT430IP, which has iPod functionality built in.
At the bottom of the lineup is the CDX-GT130 ($80), which appears to be a pretty basic CD receiver without any digital audio decoding functionality. All units will be available in September, featuring an aux in on the faceplate and 52-watts x 4-channel amplification.