Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Excellent aftermarket in-car entertainment
- More affordable than the AVIC-HD3, SUNA compatibility, plenty of input sources, good display, easy navigation
- Turn-by-turn directions mute other audio, no reversing camera packaged, limited video format support
For the driver who desires an extensive in-car entertainment experience, the AVIC-F900BT certainly delivers on most fronts. It is much more affordable than its predecessors, and a number of refinements make this the best AVIC device yet.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
Pioneer’s acclaimed AVIC range has been refreshed with the new AVIC-F900BT. This in-dash unit improves on the AVIC-HD3, managing to fit in even more features . It won’t suit everyone, but at almost half the price of its predecessor it is much more affordable.
Unlike Pioneer’s AVIC-F500BT, the AVIC-F900BT uses a standard double-DIN form factor, making it suitable for most cars. Although this makes it larger than most head units, none of this space is wasted. A 5.8in touch screen dominates the fascia; it is accompanied by a multifunctional rotary dial and quick access buttons for the home menu and navigation. The unit’s face plate is also home to an SD card slot, a DVD/CD player and an auxiliary 3.5mm input for connection to any standard portable media player.
There’s nothing truly amazing about the AVIC-F900BT’s connectivity, but there doesn’t really need to be. The integrated amplifier supports four channels at 50W each, and this is supplemented by the unit’s three RCA pre-outs for connection to external amplifiers. iPod and USB connectivity are also included, although you can’t have an iPod and a USB device connected at the same time. The unit supports the recently released iPhone 3G.
Bluetooth functionality is also integrated, allowing hands-free calling and full contact synchronisation for extensive phone control through the unit. The AVIC-F900BT is packaged with an external microphone that can be placed in a convenient location within a car. An optional reversing camera can also be installed.
Past AVIC head units have suffered from a cluttered interface, but the AVIC-F900BT has a much more user-friendly look. The home screen has three main options: GPS, phone contacts or audio-visual entertainment. Each subsequent screen is a well laid out mix of relevant options. The contact screen is alphabetically ordered and easy to scroll through, even while driving. The AV Source screen is dynamic, highlighting only options that are available. The destination screen provides standard GPS navigation options, including adding an address or point of interest; we preferred to skip directly to the 'Map' button.
The navigation mode provides a better experience than most automotive GPS devices. Integrated points of interest are available to aid navigation, as well as fixed red light and speed camera information. The AVIC-F900BT will be compatible with the SUNA traffic channel at no extra cost, but this won’t be available until the unit’s maps are updated to Sensis V15.1 (this should happen around March next year, according to Pioneer).
We did notice that the touch screen, which was often quite responsive during normal use, became slightly more resistive in GPS mode, requiring us to press slightly harder in order to navigate around the map. Turn-by-turn and text-to-speech navigation can also be slightly annoying because the unit mutes your music every time it gives a direction.
Media format support could be slightly improved, but it is adequate. DivX DVDs are supported, but video support from other sources is limited to MPEG4.
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