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Pioneer’s $600 Navi Draws Reaction

Pioneer’s spring launch of a $600 CD-only in-dash navigation device elicited clashing opinions from retailers and Pioneer competitors.

Some retailers hope the $600 AVIC-U310BT, which offers a 4.3-inch detachable screen and no video playback, will be a transitional device to step up buyers from portable GPS to in-dash navigation.

But several suppliers said the U310BT’s scaled-back features will hamper its sales and pointed to an Eclipse CD/navigation unit with 4.3-inch screen that met with muted success in the past. The U310BT is just starting to ship to retailers.

Pioneer said its AVIC-U310BT is aimed at budget-minded consumers who want music and navigation.

Three other navigation devices were announced by Pioneer last month, capped by a top-of-the-line AVIC-Z110BT in-dash DVD/navigation A/V unit with 7-inch monitor at $1,600 due to ship at the end of the month. It extends voice control to navigation functions and offers a faster processor. The unit also lets users browse through songs on their iPods via voice command while continuing to listen to a song that is playing.

All the new Pioneer models include built-in Bluetooth and iPhone compatibility.

Midline navigation units that are just reaching stores include the AVIC-X710BT and AVIC-X910BT at suggested prices of $900 and $1,100 in CD-only and DVD versions, respectively.