This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Mon, Oct 11, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John-Fredrik Wright “Anybody can make an in-dash navigation product.” That’s the words of Ted Cardenas, brand manager for Pioneer Electronics USA’s mobile entertainment division. The key, according to Cardenas, is to make it safe and easy to use to use while driving. That’s the aim of Pioneer’s just-launched top-of-the-line in-dash navigation system, the AVIC-Z120BT. Obviously, coming up with an easy-to-remember name for the product isn’t at the top of Pioneer’s list. The Pioneer AVIC-Z120BT might not have an easy name, but the user-intuition of the touch-screen makes up for this. Key features toward this end are its state-of-the-art voice recognition system and the user-friendly interface. VIC The AVIC-Z120BT (let’s just call it Vic) aims to hook up the essential consumer electronics you might have in your car, allowing you to use the same intuitive touch-screen for your navigation, phone, and entertainment system. The navigation component is pretty straight forward, apart from a couple of particulars that are supposed to make it easier for the driver to work the controls and more efficiently get the system to help him/her navigate. Here the voice commands come in handy, letting the driver keep full control of the car while inputting an address to the system. Being able to hook up your iPhone to the system and control it from the large screen makes placing calls a breeze. Instead of having to pick up your phone and fumble through the menu and list, your whole contact list is on-screen. As for the entertainment aspect, Vic has a dual-zone feature making it possible for the rear occupants to enjoy DVD video and audio trough separate displays and headphones while the front passengers listen to AM/FM or XM or Sirius satellite radio. Vic can also access your music from your iPod or iPhone, bringing your playlists to the screen.
PANDORA’S BOX For iPhone and Pandora fans, Vic can hook up to Pandora using an iPhone application and show up on the screen with detailed track information and album art. An interesting feature that will most likely not be used by the majority of the consumers (even though they probably should) is the ECO Driving function that monitors your driving and lets you know when you are driving environmentally friendly. During Vic’s test, Mr. Cardenas reminds me that the new touch-screen is now, finally, a real touch-screen, not a screen where buttons show up. For example, lists are scrollable by moving your fingers up or down, kinda like on many smart-phones, including the iPhone, which is known for its great user interface. A final thought I had is the fact that this system has a couple of functions that are reliant on the user having an iPhone. Other smart-phones will suffice on most counts, but there were some details that the iPhone will do best. I suppose that there are enough people with iPhones and smart-phones to warrant this, but for my old Samsung and I, this poses a problem. On the other hand, the features that I will not be able to use are those that I have never had access to anyway; they are mostly things only offered by the iPhone in the first place. Vic can be fully integrated into many different vehicles with a 2-DIN dash opening. Also, it will match any vehicle’s dash lighting with its more than 30,000 customizable illumination colors. The suggested retail price of this top-of-the-line system is $1,599, to which you will have to add the cost for installation. For someone who wants to enjoy the benefits found in some of the systems in place in new high-end cars, Vic may be your new best friend. It’s a perfect upgrade for a lot less than it would cost to buy a new car with this kind of convenience. To see Vic on video, go to The Pandora Experience