Category: Car Entertainment

Pioneer’s Navi Robo waves you in the right direction

Engadget: Before you dismiss this as just another crazy idea out of Japan, hear us out. The newly developed, crab-simulating Navi Robo is designed to give drivers visual navigating assistance as a supplement to their GPS device. Its primary benefit, aside from helping the hearing impaired, will be in conveying instructions without requiring the driver to focus on it, as its eyes light up for attention and its “claws” vibrate urgently when an upcoming turn is imminent. Frankly, it looks both cute and functional, and we think kudos are in order for both Pioneer and iXs Research for coming up with the idea. They’ll be taking their usual good time (read: a couple of years) to refine and develop the idea, but we’ve got video of the robot doing its thing right now — you know where to find it.

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Talking while turning: Top six GPS devices with Bluetooth

Cnet: Ideally, GPS devices increase safety by allowing drivers to focus on the road instead of fumbling with a map. And though most will admit that it’s safest to not take phone calls when behind the wheel, it’s best to go hands-free if you absolutely must. Why not hit two birds with one stone by grabbing a GPS device that features a built-in Bluetooth speakerphone? (more…)

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Free download: rediscover your tunes with MusicSphere

Pioneer.eu: Pioneer introduces MusicSphere, a new software plug-in for iTunes which allows you to breathe new life into all of the music you have collected over the years. With digital music libraries rapidly expanding, lots of songs are lost in the masses. As a result, many people have loads of tracks that they forgot they had and never listen to. (more…)

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Bang & Olufsen delivers high-end sound to the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

 

What HiFi: The world of in-car audio is serious business and after a look at the brand new Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG system inside the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, it’s clear the Danish high-end audio and design experts are going to do things properly.

While the car boasts some serious wow factor, the sound system might just steal the show, with eleven speakers, 1000 watts of power and some ingenious in-car audio engineering. If you’ve got the money for such a car, then upgrading to the BeoSound AMG system must be a complete no-brainer.

After a whistle-stop visit to Bang & Olufsen’s HQ in Struer, we’re still digesting the technology inside Mercedes’ latest head-turner. After a tour of the B&O factory, some workshops with the audio engineers and even a quick spin in the car, it’s impossible not to be impressed by what we’ve seen.

Corner-cutting clearly isn’t a term with which David Lewis, the hugely influential Bang & Olufsen designer, or any of the company’s staff, are too familiar. Racing around the factory looking at machines designed and built solely to manufacture intricate components for specific B&O kit, and seeing examples of the countless parts that come together to make the company’s products rolling off the production line, there’s much to admire and absorb.

The importance of quality materials, attention to detail and absolute quality control are clearly paramount, with aluminium – and, whisper it, steel – parts being machined and milled to exacting standards. It’s no surprise that the company has been asked to make the odd unbranded part for other companies on the quiet over the years. Much of what is made here simply could not be made anywhere else.

But we’re not allowed to get too distracted by the speaker and TV components with which we’re most familiar, we’re here to learn about the BeoSound AMG sound system for the Mercedez-Benz SLS AMG.

The system boasts 11 speakers including two subwoofers, and two hefty amplifiers. We’re told that while ‘one amp is the brains of the operation, the other provides the horse-power’.

And some horse-power there is. The ICEPower amplifier (pictured below) – ‘Intelligent, Compact, Efficient’ – delivers 750 watts of power over five channels. Converting 93% of the energy fed to it into output power compared to a conventional car amp that would manage around 30%, it’s far more efficient, producing far less heat as a result.

The ICEPower delivers four channels of 125 watts and one channel of 250 watts, while the DSP (digital sound processor) amplifier offers up five 50 watt channels of power. This digital amplifier does the all-important ‘maths’ with the signal, converting a stereo sound or a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound to something the 11 speakers can deliver.

The location and characteristics of the speakers work together with the meticulously tuned DSP to ensure the music reaches the ears of those in the car sounding just as it should, with each speaker set to different delays to compensate for the position in the car.

You needn’t worry about that SLS AMG engine drowing out your sound either: the DSP analyses all outside sounds and adjusts the volume accordingly to ensure you can still hear your music while you enjoy the sound of the engine purring in to life. And these adjustments don’t just affect the system as a whole: speakers are adjusted individually, as are distinct sound frequencies.

Style and design are every bit as important, with materials and finishes to match the car’s interior alongside individual signature touches – such as white LEDs on the tiny ‘acoustic lens’ tweeters – adding to the high-end appeal of the BeoSound AMG system.

Smitten? We wouldn’t blame you but you better start saving: the BeoSound AMG system will set you back around 7000 euros, but you’ll of course need a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG to house it. And that’s the wrong side of £150,000. You get what you pay for, eh?

 

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Explore, Talk and Play with Pioneer’s new NavGate line-up

Pioneer.eu: In April and May, Pioneer will introduce six new NavGate systems, that mix unsurpassed navigation guidance with Bluetooth wireless technology and a host of multimedia capabilities.More than basic navigation units, these models enhance in-car travel with various communication and entertainment possibilities. The new NavGate line-up is easy to use, fits smoothly in all types of cars and can be customised to suit the your personal taste.

At heart, NavGate is about fast and precise in-car navigation. The new units offer a comprehensive, preinstalled map database from Tele Atlas covering 44 European countries and featuring millions of destinations and Points of Interest (POIs). Navigation is stress-free thanks to easy address input and fast route calculation.

To avoid any unwelcome surprises, all 2010 models come with a Traffic Message Channel (TMC) receiver that will inform you about traffic jams and incidents on your route.

Offering a range of interesting features, our proprietary NavGate Feeds PC and smartphone software has made navigation customisable. It enables you to find your own POIs from a range of sources, such as Google Maps mapping service, internet POI sites and geotagged images, and add them to your system’s maps using an SD card, USB device or Bluetooth.

The ECO Driving function provides driving status reports and visualises your impact on the environment.Thanks to NavGate Feeds, the units can estimate the fuel cost of trip routes as well as the vehicle’s CO2 emissions through detailed Drive Reports.

The application can also analyse driving habits over a period of time to give suggestions on how to be more economic with fuel. Read more…
 

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iPad finds a home in the dashboard

Cnet: I’m not saying that this is a good idea, but I am saying that I saw this coming. The freshly minted Apple iPad has found its way into the dashboard. Installers at Sound Man Car Audio have modified the dashboard of a Toyota Tacoma to accommodate Apple’s tablet, which will serve as the brains for a much more extensive installation.

It appears that the iPad will still be removable, which is good for security. Also, because until the Apple iPad 3G goes on sale, there isn’t any GPS functionality for nav and Pandora Radio streaming will only work when they’re near an open Wi-Fi hotspot, so the option to upgrade is nice. (more…)

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22 Inch Flip Down Car Monitor Player – Home theatre on the way home

The Red Ferret: Forget your dinky back-of-the-headrest DVD screens, how about an upgrade to this monster 22 Inch Flip Down Car Monitor Player with dome lights? It has a 1400 x 900 screen, two video and one audio input, works with PAL or NTSC signals and has an IR remote control. Best of all it has a built-in dome light which you’ll need, as this thing will take up some serious roof real estate, especially if little Sally and Tommy both want one. Might go well in a caravan though. US$263.99 (about 196 euros)

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Jaguar XJ 2010 video review: So good, you’ll expense it twice

CNET Crave: Ever wondered what would happen if you replaced your car’s speedometer with a 12.3-inch computer screen? How about if you fitted an information and entertainment display on which the driver and passenger can watch different programmes at the same time? Jaguar certainly has — hence the creation of the XJ, its brand-new executive sports saloon.

The company tells us it’ll stroll right up to the BMW 7 series, Mercedes S-Class and Porsche Panamera and hawk a metaphorical loogie right in their posh, metallic faces. It tells us it’ll handle better, wow you with more technology and make the nickname ‘Two Jags’ something to aspire to. Never ones to ignore fightin’ words, your men in the field — Rory Reid and the bloke who keeps his camera steady — jetted off to Paris to blag a ride. See the video.

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Pioneer MVH-8200 multimedia car stereo: RIP to CDs

CNet: There was once a time when pretty girls mocked us because our cars didn’t have CD players. These days it looks as if we’re finally getting our own back, as Pioneer has just released the MVH-8200 — a car stereo without a CD drive.

How’dya like us now, Brenda?! Instead of relying on old-skool plastic discs crammed with a dozen or so songs, the MVH-8200 gives you access to an almost unlimited supply of digital music via its integrated SD card reader, front-facing USB port or 3.5mm auxiliary jack.

Pioneer MVH-8200

A separate cable enables you to connect your iPhone. All you need to do is copy your songs across from a PC before you set off. Are you reading this, Claire?! In other news that’s sure to have Becky wishing she’d gotten with us, the MVH-8200 has a 76mm (3-inch) colour TFT display that lets you watch films and view photos of the infinitely hotter girls you’ve been out with since the acne cleared up.

The system supports DivX, JPEG, MP3, WMA and AAC, though you’ll have to ensure your audio tracks are of the DRM-free (iTunes Plus, Amazon MP3) variety. The MVH-8200 has a built-in 50W amplifier, which will send plenty of grunt to four separate speakers — front and rear. Those who want to be truly deafened can connect an external amp and subwoofer via its RCA pre-out, or use Pioneer’s Direct Sub Drive feature.

The latter allows users to send two 50W power channels to a couple of front speakers, and send 70W of the stereo’s remaining power to a subwoofer at the rear. It’s perfect for bass lovers who can’t be bothered with — or can’t afford — a separate amplifier. Pioneer is also selling a second version of the MVH-8200, known as the MVH-8200BT.

This unit comes with integrated Bluetooth from Parrot, meaning users can pull up to the bus stop their ex is standing at and have loud conversations with super-hot, anti-CD nerds over their car’s speakers. A bundled external microphone is included for extra clarity. The MHV-8200 is available now for around £279, while the MVH-8200BT will set you back somewhere in the region of £310. Buy one and show your ex who’s boss.

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Volvo shows rear seat media PC with 4G, iPod input

iPodNN: Volvo at the Chicago Auto show this morning said it would give its XC70 crossover wagon a unique rear seat entertainment system.

The RSEi-500 will be a full-fledged touchscreen computer based on Windows XP but will have its own custom interface for media navigation, including cover art and details for music and DVDs.

It should also have an always-on Internet connection and will uniquely run on a Sprint Overdrive that can share a 3G or WiMAX connection over to both the RSEi-500 and to other devices in the car through Wi-Fi.

Volvo

The system has its own 500GB hard drive and will link to an unlimited music download service as well as video exploration, but Volvo promises support for outside devices as well. A USB interface should give it access to devices that register as external storage, and an aux input will let it play audio and video from most common portable devices, including iPods and Zunes.

The short-range Wi-Fi access extends resources further by supporting network-attached storage when it appears. Volvo is hinging some of its plans on reactions to the RSEi-500 at the Chicago event but so far plans to make it an option for multiple cars by this June.

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MyFord Touch coming to 2011 Ford Focus

Engadget: The 2010 Detroit Auto Show has just kicked off and Ford’s plans for the 2011 Focus have been made official.

While others might care more about the 155bhp or new six-speed dual-clutch transmission, we’re best pleased by the inclusion of the MyFord touch control system.

This setup was designed to drag the car dash into the modern touchscreen era, and our comprehensive hands-on revealed it to be a most impressive bit of tech.

Ford Focus

Two displays flank the analog speed gauge, but the pièce de résistance is an 8-inch, 800 x 480 optional screen landing in the center of the dash.

Endued with a web browser, it’ll connect via 3G or 4G modems and concurrently act as a WiFi hotspot. Add in a bunch of forthcoming apps and compatibility with any Bluetooth device, and you’ve got a tech lover’s dream system.

The next generation Focus should enter production near the end of 2010, giving us a full year to write a “vroom, vroom” app for our smartphones.

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Kia UVO: Control your car with your voice

CNet: Remember Fiat Blue&Me — the Windows-powered entertainment system for your car? Well Kia’s been busy working with Microsoft to produce a similar system, known as ‘UVO’, which apparently stands for ‘your voice’.

Like Blue&Me, it’s based on the Microsoft Auto software platform. Unlike its rival, however, UVO incorporates full Microsoft speech-engine technology, so users can control almost all of its features — access music, control the radio, make and answer phone calls, and dictate and hear text messages — with their voice.

We had the chance to play with UVO in a 2011 Kia Sorento, and the system’s performance was impressive, if a little unreliable.

It understood perfectly when we asked it to tune the radio to a specific frequency or preset, it read aloud incoming text messages with aplomb, and it even obliged when we asked for a specific song that we’d ripped from a CD to its built-in 1GB hard drive (a USB port is present for storage upgrades).

Kia Uvo

It occasionally failed, however, to understand even basic menu-navigation requests, which led us to abandon our efforts with the text-dictation feature.

Basically, it works, but it can be frustrating and isn’t the sort of thing you want in your car if you suffer from road rage. Despite our disappointing initial experience, we’ll give UVO the benefit of the doubt until we get some private face-time with it. It is, in theory, a very good system, and we suspect a loud show floor at CES 2010 wasn’t the best place for Kia to demonstrate voice-command features.

UVO will debut this summer in the 2011 Kia Sorento. Watch out for a hands-on demo in our Car Tech section soon, and click ‘Continue’ for some more photos of UVO.

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