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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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