Parrot's latest gadget for Aussies is an Android-powered in-car entertainment and GPS solution at an appealing price point. I didn't quite get to take one for a genuine test drive yesterday, unless it's possible somehow to drive a briefcase. My impressions after the jump. Parrot’s got a history of somewhat unusual devices, whether you’re talking extremely high cost concept art speakers, equally art-styled photo frames or the rather well known iPhone-controlled remote control helicopter.
As such, I approached Parrot’s Asteroid launch with trepidation. The video below covers the basics — I knew it was an in-car GPS/Audio system, but beyond that, quite what kind of price and feature set Aussies would get remained a mystery.
The price was pleasantly surprising at $399, pitching it between the kinds of prices you’d pay for a premium-level standalone GPS but generally below what you’d pay for a dedicated in-dash unit, although unless you’re handy with in-car electronics, you’d have to factor in installation costs as well.
The units on show yesterday were just in-store demo models, so I didn’t get to go for a quick test drive in real world conditions. Plus, I reckon if you pulled that suitcase out anywhere, you’d quickly be pulled over as a suspected terrorist.
In an effort to limit driver distraction, (I do wonder if certain taxi drivers are listening), the Asteroid doesn’t feature a touchscreen. Instead control is via a dial wheel, which seems to work well enough for basic selection, but makes text entry rather slow. This is an important point, because paired with a USB dongle or tethering-capable smartphone (USB or Bluetooth) it’ll access online services for finding points of interest, showing speed cameras and the like. The app platform for the Asteroid is described as “open”, but there’s a limitation in play that means it’s most likely that you’ll only see Parrot’s own apps on there. While the Asteroid can make the claim to being based on Android, that’s at a level that’s quite literally code-deep rather than skin deep. For a start, it’s Android 1.5, but more importantly, there’s no market-level access for buying new apps; anything you want to install on it will have to be shuffled across via SD card.