Live from CES: Pioneer Press Conference

Pioneer kicked off its press conference talking directly about its ambitions into the vehicle navigation market (a la GPS and mapping units). Pioneer "wants to put the fun back into driving," yet it doesn't seem to be providing faster cars. Instead, they are introducing a new family of navigation, the 'AVIC' family, with three different models.

The AVIC-Z1 [pictured] has a built-in hard drive and enough CPU oomph to render 3D mapping graphics. 30GB hard drive, XM NavTraffic, music library and DVD playback, a 7-inch touch-screen, and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Expect it in April '06 for $2250.

The Z1 uses something called 'Smart Routing' which tries to keep track of stop signs, traffic, and other information to find the best route. It can even learn from your past travel to change its suggested routes to take you near destinations that you have gone by in the past—even if the waypoints aren't exactly the most efficient way to your final destination. Potentially frustrating, but a step in the right direction for intelligent driver routing.

The Z1 can rip CDs to its HDD (up to 10GB of the internal hard drive), as well as 'enhanced iPod functionality.' It's hard to say if that means standard play/skip controls or if it will also display iPod track/ID3 information.

More navigation and head units after the jump.

The AVIC-N3 is a single DIN chasis unit with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, but is DVD-based instead of HDD based. Enhanced iPod controls and XM interface like the Z1. Expect the N3 in March 2006 for $1,800. The 2006y Tele Atlas database now offers lane information data for 50 markets and detailed city maps for 30+ cities.

The AVIC-D2 is also DVD-based, with XM NavTraffic capability. It's a double-DIN unit, meaning its 6.5-inch display doesn't slide out on a motorized track like the N3, but instead sits open. It's available in March for $1,500.

What we are now not reporting on is the uncomfortable moment when Pioneer's suit is explaining what makes "Generation Y" so individual. Did you know we like being unique?

Apparently, Gen Y folk also like OLED displays in their in-dash CD players. Of the 14 new models of Pioneer head units, most will include XM and Sirius control as well as that 'enhanced iPod control.' Two units have Bluetooth cell phone connectivity. In a laudable move, most of the new models also include a standard miniJack line-in, should you decline to purchase the iPod connectivity kit.

The AVH-P6800DVD is a double-DIN head unit with a built-in 6-disc DVD changer, as well as a 7-inch touch screen. Also, Bluetooth cell phone connectivity. Expect it in May of '06 for $1,400.

Pioneer is introducing a new high-end aftermarket car stereo branding called 'Premier Reference Series' (PRS). It's apparently awesome, as judged by the monotone description of "deep, rich bass." Pioneer is also talking about new shallow-depth subwoofers that are less than 4-inches deep. Prices start at $160 and should be around in March.