2011 CES: Pioneer helps drivers get connected to Facebook, Twitter, Pandora with new car stereos, iPhone SmartCradle

Consumer Reports News: January 05, 2011 05:44 PM

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Pioneer unveiled several new products today at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to help motorists integrate their mobile devices and stay connected on the road, including Pandora-ready car stereos, text-reading Aha Radio navigation systems, and an advanced iPhone cradle.

Pandora has been filling its dance card with partners, including Pioneer. The streaming Internet radio services is now available from nine Pioneer head-unit models, starting at $150. Users will be able to view, select, and listen to Pandora stations via a connected iPhone, with the ability to pause, skip tracks, and bookmark artists/songs, much like the functionality on a smart phone or computer.

Two new navigation models—AVIC-Z130BT and AVIC-X930BT—will integrate with Aha Radio to let drivers listen to Facebook/Twitter posts and podcasts, search/listen to Yelp reviews, and update/listen to traffic reports all through voice control and text-to-speech. Price of these units are a hefty $800 and $1200, respectively. The will be available in March.

Following Magellan and TomTom, Pioneer is offering a SmartCradle for iPhone the promises to provide a more accurate GPS signal for location-based apps. (It also provides GPS capability for late-model iPod Touch with an adapter.) The SmartCradle has built-in GPS receiver, gyroscope, accelerometer, and amplified speaker with automatic sound "levelizer" that monitors in-cabin noise level and adjusts volume accordingly. To aid fuel efficiency, the SmartCradle has a light that turns from red to green based on vehicle dynamics, thereby encouraging more gentle, gas-saving driving. It also acts as a phone charger and dash mount. Pricing and availability have not been announced.

Rik Paul

See our complete CES automotive coverage, and visit the Electronics blog for camera, TV, cell phones, and more. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @CRcars.

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