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Pioneer Intros New Nav Line

Long Beach, Calif. — Pioneer unveiled four new in-dash navigation models, capped by a Ford Sync competitor with improved voice recognition.

The line shown to retailers over the past weekend at the company’s Road Show also includes iPhone capability and built-in Bluetooth on all models.

At the crown is a $1,600-suggested AVIC-Z110BT that sports a faster processer and adds more voice control than on previous Pioneer models. Users can now input a navigation destination by voice and conduct point-of-interest (POI) searches, such as “Find the nearest Starbucks.” In iPod mode, users can browse through songs via voice command while continuing to listen to a song that is playing. Most of these improvements are software rather than hardware based, said Pioneer. Users also have “conversational” voice control over songs on an iPhone or iPod and over switching sources from an SD card, USB or iPod Users can also ask the unit to play, pause, shuffle and go to the next track and previous track.

Another new feature lets users change the icons on the interface, so if they don’t use the FM radio, for instance, that icon can be removed or replaced.

The Z110 has 4GB of flash memory on board and offers maps of the 50 U.S. states plus Canada. It has a Drive Report that calculates a route based on gas savings, and it can generate a report on a car’s carbon dioxide emissions based on driving habits. It also shows simulated highway signs and offers MSN Direct for traffic updates for those who subscribe.

The DVD/navigation unit has a 7-inch motorized screen with WVGA display and now allows users the choice of controlling an iPod directly or on the unit’s display. It also offers iPod video and is HD Radio and satellite radio ready. Retailers are expected to receive the unit in July.

The new AVIC-X series midline products include the CD-only navigation/monitor, the AVIC-X710BT, and the DVD version, the AVIC-X910BT. Both have 5.8-inch WVGA touch screens.

Both offer conversational voice control of iPod songs but not of address input and POI search.

The units include similar maps and POIs to the top-of-the line Z110BT, as well as USB and SD card slots, and the 910 offers built-in MSN Direct. Both the AVIC-X710BT and AVIC-X910BT are now shipping at $900 and $1,100 respective suggested prices.

The AVIC-U310BT, as described previously, sets a new ground-floor price for a leading in-dash navigation brand, but offers some scaled-down features, such as CD player (no DVD) and 4.3-inch screen.

It offers 2GB of flash memory, maps of the 50 states plus Canada and 500,000 POIs. It also shows simulated views of highway signs and the most fuel-efficient routes. It has an SD card slot so users can add more POIs or a map of Mexico. It also has a rear USB interface and iPod/iPhone control and Bluetooth. It is expected to be in stores in July.