Gadget Show Live 2012 - Parrot Asteroid
For years now I’ve had a complex music setup in my car - my smartphone, my car stereo, my audio cable and my charger. The amount of wires wrapped around my dashboard was crazy!
When I'm on the road my phone is my music player, satnav, and a tool for staying connected. So for people like me, what's the most convenient way to stay tangle-free in the car?
Parrot are one of the premier manufacturers of hands-free in car systems. At this year's Gadget Show Live they're showing off the new Parrot ASTEROID. It’s a fitted car kit with a partially removable faceplate that runs on a slimmed down version of Android OS.
What’s the most impressive thing about Asteroid? It’s the first in car kit to have a built-in internet connection, for online music streaming and apps, that’s right, apps! I had my hands on this fine piece of kit and put it through its paces.
One thing is clear, Parrot are definitely upping their game. The ASTEROID is full of the kind of essentials you’d expect from a usual car stereo, like mp3 connectivity and Bluetooth, plus it also has the ability to run selected Android applications, like Deezer for music streaming!
To use Deezer or other music streaming services on the ASTEROID, you can connect it to the internet via a 3G dongle or by tethering your smartphone’s 3G connection. If you have MP3s stored on a device you can also plug in your iPhone, MP3 player or USB flash drive using one of the ASTEROID’s many ports.
Design-wise, Parrot have been able to create something very intuitive. The ASTEROID feels robust and the partially removable faceplate works well, it is a shame however that the whole front is not removable. You can definitely tell that a lot of thought went into ensuring that the unit was as functional and practical as possible - there’s a large, easy to use interface which prevents you from having to tap around menus while focusing on the road.
We mentioned before that the ASTEROID runs a slimmed down version of Android, which allows it to work with applications. There are several really handy ones installed, such as Parrot maps, a Sat Nav app that locates you and lets you see any points of interest that are close to where you are - handy if you need to find a parking space quickly or a restaurant. ‘Full For Less’ searches all petrol stations and allows you to find the nearest and cheapest one to you, a very nice and simple way to keep your costs down. Finally, we have iCoyote; this app alerts you to any upcoming speed cameras or traffic jams in your path. It is a shame that Parrot have not included a turn-by-turn Sat Nav app by default, as this would have really allowed ASTEROID to work well as an all-in-one in car device. That said, with the Operating System being Android, it will be very easy for a developer to add this functionality to the car kit down the road.
So is the Parrot ASTEROID a revolution in car connectivity? No, not yet. But it is the first in a
new generation of internet-enabled car kits, packed with handy apps and functions. With more applications on the way, only time will tell what the true potential of the unit is.