Reviewing Pioneer’s new iPhone-powered in-dash interface

by Shalu Pillai

Our friends at TUAW got a first-hand review on the Pioneer AVIC in-car unit, launched at CES earlier this year. While the main unit is your standard touchscreen in-dash interface, it comes with a built-in GPS and you can also use it for both in-car audio or video controls. The highlights is that you can hook it up to your iPhone while it is plugged into a dock cable that runs up through the glove compartment, making it works as an interface for your phone while driving, rather than replacing it completely. Pioneer had also hooked up with two popular app-driven services on iOS, for this. The company already provides Pandora service in the car, where the music and artist information actually streams to the Pandora app on your iPhone, while Pioneer’s interface controls the whole setup. This year, a new feature is a team-up with a free app service called Aha Radio. Instead of providing streaming music, Aha provides audio feeds of various online content sources, including your Facebook and Twitter pages, (which did have some out of context text-to-speech translation), local traffic and restaurant information, and even streamed podcasts, completely outside of the normal iTunes ecosystem.

The AVIC units start at $800 plus installation, while its premium version is $1,200. The unit is pretty much an added-luxury aspiration since it does pretty much everything your iPhone can, but then we all love a little luxury.