We were pretty impressed with Pioneer's AVIC-Z110BT when we reviewed it last year (we're talking Editors' Choice impressed), but that was last year, a veritable eternity ago in the consumer electronics world. What have you done for us lately, Pioneer?
Most recently, Pioneer has announced an update to its flagship model with its reveal of the AVIC-Z120BT in-dash navigation system, a double-DIN receiver that features some pretty heavy integration with Pioneer's software suite for multimedia and GPS navigation: PandoraLink, MusicSphere, and AVIC Feeds.
The new Z120BT combines the features we loved from the Z110, such as the crisp 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth hands-free calling, GPS navigation, and iPod integration--all accessible by voice command--and rolls in the new features from the AVIC-X920BT, specifically PandoraLink for iPhone, MusicSphere, and the ECO Graph navigation interface.
After downloading and installing the PandoraLink app on an iPhone and connecting to it via USB, users gain control over the Pandora Internet radio service directly from the AVIC-Z120BT's interface, streaming audio from the Internet using the iPhone's data connection. Pandora will be displayed in the list of audio sources in the Z120BT's menu with album artwork and track metadata. Users will be able to skip tracks, rate songs with Pandora's "thumbs up" or "thumbs down," bookmark songs and artists, and choose from their saved channels or a Quickmix.
MusicSphere is a downloadable iTunes plug-in that analyzes your music library and creates playlists based on mood (such as bright, relaxing, or energetic); rhythm pattern; beats per minute; or year recorded. The software will also create what Pioneer calls a "DJ Playlist," which is a sort of nonstop mix of songs of a selected style, complete with blends and transition effects. When an iPod or iPhone is synced and connected to the AVIC-Z120BT, the playlists are accessed through an animated 3D sphere that can be flicked and rotated using the touch screen.
iPhone and iPod-specific features aside, the Z120BT features an updated interface with 3D graphics, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, and CD/DVD playback. The Tele Atlas maps feature data for all 50 states and Canada with 3D landmarks for major cities. The unit is upgradeable to support rearview cameras, rear seat entertainment, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and HD radio with extra equipment. Traffic and data services can also be added with an optional MSN Direct module--we're not too happy about that bit.
The new ECO Driving module uses information gathered by the GPS navigation system to estimate fuel costs and emissions, while generating a real-time eco score that shows how greenly the vehicle is being driven along with detailed drive reports that can be stored on an SD card for retrieval via Pioneer's AVIC Feed's software.
The AVIC-Z120BT will be available in June for a suggested retail price of $1,599.