Sony Expands Smartphone Connectivity Options



Sony is focusing on smartphone connectivity in most of the eight new head units launching here at International CES, where the company is also launching its first amp/speaker series targeted exclusively to 12-volt specialists.

In smartphone connectivity, Sony is expanding the number of head units that control Pandora Internet radio on a USB-connected iPhone, adopting MirrorLink technology for the first time, and expanding Bluetooth control of Pandora on Android and BlackBerry smartphones to more head units.

Also new for Sony is the ability of two of four new double- DIN multimedia-A/V units to control a Telenav navigation app running on a USB-connected iPhone.

All told, seven of eight new heads feature iPod USB, and the four new multimedia-A/V units control Pandora on a USB-connected iPhone, joining four other head units that launched last September as the company’s first head units to control Pandora on an iPhone.

Five of the eight new heads feature Bluetooth control of Pandora on Android and BlackBerry phones, joining the first such Sony model launched last September. These models control all functions, excluding custom channel creation, of the phones’ Pandora app.

All four new multimedia head units display iPhone/ iPod-stored video and app video on their large touchscreens via USB, whereas previous models displayed only stored video.

Two of the four new multimedia head units add Mirror- Link, the industry-standardized technology that enables compatible aftermarket and OEM head units to display the user interface, apps, and content of MirrorLink-compatible smartphones, the first of which is expected to become available in 2012 in the U.S., said mobile electronics business manager Taka Noguchi. With MirrorLink, consumers will use their head unit’s touchscreen to control smartphone apps and functions in the same way that they would use the smartphone’s touchscreen to control apps and functions.

MirrorLink will run on Android and Symbian smartphones, not on iPhones or BlackBerry phones, Noguchi said. Compatibility with future Windows phones hasn’t been determined.

The four new multimedia head units with ability to display iPod/iPhone-stored video and app video include the $349-everyday XAV-63 and $399 XAV-64BT. They ship in March with 6.1-inch WVGA touchscreens.

The VAX-64BT will add stereo Bluetooth with Bluetooth’s serial port profile (SPP) and a Pandora API that enables the head to use Bluetooth to wirelessly control all Pandora functions but station creation/deletion on Android and BlackBerry smartphones.

Two step-up double-DIN A/V head units are the $549 XAV-601BT and $699 XAV-701HD, both of which feature MirrorLink and both of which will control an iPhonestored Telenav navigation app that only Sony heads will be able to control. Both heads are also the company’s first A/V units to accept an optional navigation module, which at an expected everyday $299 will incorporate TomTom navigation technology.

The two A/V heads also feature stereo Bluetooth with SPP to control Pandora functions on an Android or BlackBerry phone, and both control the Pandora app on a USB-connected iPhone.

The XAV-601BT, due in May, features 6.1-inch screen and full detachable faceplate. The step-up XAV-701HD adds 7-inch motorized screen that slides down to reveal a CD slot. The XAV-701HD is the first Sony A/V unit with embedded HD Radio.

Both nav-ready A/V units are also the company’s first A/V units with connection to SiriusXM’s new outboard universal tuner, joining multiple other Sony head units.

The 701HD features iTunes tagging for HD Radio and SiriusXM as well as display of HD Radio-transmitted album art and station logos.

Four other new head units appearing at the show are single-DIN CD models priced from $139 to $239, including one marine unit.


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