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Parrot Expands Android-Based In-Car Entertainment

1/09/2012 10:03:00 PM Eastern
Las Vegas - Parrot is expanding its selection of Android-based in-car entertainment systems with the launch of three new products in its Asteroid line, which currently consists of a single-DIN car stereo.

The Asteroid products feature embedded Android-based apps, some of which access the Internet via tethered smartphone or via plug-in cellular USB modems.

The company is also launching an on-ear noise-canceling Bluetooth headset and a universal tower-style docking speaker that uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect to music-laden portable devices.

All products are due sometime this year at prices to be announced.

For the car, the company is launching the Asteroid 2DIN double-DIN Android-based A/V-navigation system and two flat on-dash entertainment systems, the Asteroid CK and Asteroid Nav. The latter two models look like portable navigation devices (PNDs) and connect to a car's sound system. The Asteroid Nav adds embedded GPS for turn-by-turn driving instructions.

The Asteroid 2DIN in-dash head unit features 6.2-inch color multitouch touchscreen, and like the current $349 single-DIN Asteroid head unit, it features an AM/FM tuner, lacks a CD player, but comes with USB slots and an SD card slot to play USB- and card-stored music. Both in-dash units also provide hands-free Bluetooth for use with a Bluetooth cellphone, stereo Bluetooth to stream music from any type of cellphone or smartphone with stereo Bluetooth, iPod/iPhone-compatible USB port, voice control of song selection, and embedded apps, whose names were unavailable. In the single-DIN model, Parrot offers such apps as TuneIn Internet radio to stream more than 50,000 stations, Wikango to warn of speed cameras, and map and weather apps.

For many of the apps, the head units access the Internet via a Bluetooth-, USB- or Wi-Fi-tethered cellphone, via a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot, or a plugged-in 3G or 4G USB stick.

Apps loaded onto the head units are adapted from apps available in the Android Market, but Parrot also plans to offer a software developers kit that will enable developers to designed Asteroid-specific apps. Apps designed for the head units are expected to be available from Parrot's Asteroid Market in the second quarter.

The 2DIN also features one video output and two video inputs, one of which is dedicated to a rearview camera.

The other two new Asteroids are the Asteroid CK and Asteroid Nav on-dash products, both with wireless remote. CK features a 3.2-inch color (non-touch) screen, Bluetooth and USB-cable tethering to a phone for Internet access, ability to access the Internet via a plugged-in cellular USB modem, stereo Bluetooth, and voice recognition to make or take phone calls and search for music stored on a USB-connected iPod/iPhone, USB stick or SD card.  

The step-up Asteroid Nav adds a 5-inch capacitive color touchscreen, onboard navigation, and Wi-Fi for an additional option to connect to the Internet via W-Fi-equipped smartphone or via pocket-size mobile Wi-Fi hot spot. The unit also adds ability to connect to two phones simultaneously via Bluetooth for hands-free calling.

On the home front, Parrot launched a wireless tower speaker that docks with iPods and iPhones but also streams music via stereo Bluetooth and Wi-Fi from such devices as networked PCs, networked Macs and smartphones. The tower also incorporates contactless near field communications (NFC) to stream music from NFC-equipped smartphones.

The speaker, called the Zikmu Solo Parrot by Starck, also has left-right speakers that use flat-panel NXT driver technology to deliver a stereo soundfield. The amp is rated at 100 watts RMS.

Another new product is the ZIK Parrot by Starck, a Bluetooth stereo headset with touch controls, active noise cancellation, and DSP to push the music stage in front of the wearer. Touchpanel controls appear on the right earpiece. Swiping the panel vertically sets volume, and swiping horizontally skips forward and back. A sensing system automatically puts the headset in standby mode when removed from a person's head. It also streams music from phones via contactless NFC.
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