Pioneer's AVIC Z-Series has set the standard for in-dash navigation devices over the past couple of years, and so the release of a new line of a new family of products in the AVIC series is big news for car tech fans. The line-up starts with the entry-level AVIC-F700BT, which features a single CD/CD-R/RW playback mechanism, followed by the AVIC-F900BT and the AVIC-F90BT, which are both capable of reading MP3, WMA, iTunes AAC, and WAV audio formats as well as DVD, DivX, and MPEG4 video files.
Unveiled this week, all of the F-Series include flash-memory-based navigation and the capability to deliver real-time traffic, weather, and gasoline prices via a connection to MSN Direct. Each of the three new in-dash units features a 5.8-inch high-resolution WVGA touch-panel display; a USB interface for quick connection to iPod music players, portable media players, and USB memory devices; and an SD-card slot for loading additional Points of Interest information or compressed audio and video files. The devices also feature an advanced speech-recognition interface for hands-free calling and media playback selection. Developed by VoiceBox, the voice-recognition system is able to understand conversational directions for making phone calls and selecting audio playback options. Pioneer claims that the interface can even discern a voice command that is complicated by pauses or hesitation, such as a command like: "I want to, ah, play artist, um, Black Eyed Peas." If it works as advertised, the technology will go one better than Ford's Sync system, which holds the current crown for voice-command usability.
Look out for the AVIC-F700BT, the AVIC-F900BT, and the Premier AVIC-F90BT to hit the shelves in June with price tags of $850, $1,100, and $1,200 respectively.