LAS VEGAS –
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
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.