Millennials in India are constantly looking for instant gratification and have the budget to flaunt next-generation gadgets. When it comes to on-the-go experience, the desire to own the best in-car entertainment system is also growing among them.
Japanese company Pioneer, which has been delivering superior car audio systems focused on connectivity, entertainment and sound quality, has launched the Rs 29,990 "AVH-Z5090BT" model in its Z series.
According to Minoru Ogawa, Managing Director, Pioneer India, the Z series is designed with the idea of raising the bar in the car entertainment market in the country. Pioneer India achieved a growth of 23 per cent in sales revenue in the financial year 2016-2017.
Here is what we think of the in-car audio system.
We had the AVH-Z5090BT system, "GM-A6704 1,000 watt 4-channel" amplifier with Bass Boost control (Rs 8,490), "TS-WX306B 1300" Watt woofer (Rs 7,990) and "TS-C601IN (India exclusive) speakers (Rs 5,990) fitted in the car.
The head unit has a touchscreen display and eight small physical buttons that perform similar functions as any Android device. Its connectivity options include Bluetooth, data cable and AUX input (for music only).
Before connecting the smartphone to the system, you need to install three apps -- Android Auto, AppRadio and AppRadio Live. You can also use the system with iPhone via Apple CarPlay.
Plug in the device with the data cable that comes from behind the dashboard. According to Pioneer, it prefers using this style of USB connectivity owing to security concerns.
When connected, the Android Auto mirrors the functionalities on the display. You can dial a number and talk to your friend without touching the phone. The system reads the incoming text out loud so that a user can reply to WhatsApp and text messages with voice.
Lost your way? No problem. Just open maps on the display and follow the route just like you do with a smartphone.
Getting bored? Turn on the audio app and start playing music. Google Play Music and Gaana app can now be used to play music via this system.
The player displays Full-HD videos from USB. It even has HDD support; so no need to copy files into a pen drive. Just plug in your external hard disk and play videos.
If you want to play videos from your phone, choose "AppRadio Mode+" from the menu and you are set to play videos stored in phone's memory.
If you don't have a smartphone, you can still navigate with "AppRadio compatible AV" player. Pioneer introduced this feature way back when Google Maps app was still under development.
Pioneer has also launched an offer on Z-series where customers can avail free "Map My India" services (worth Rs 2,000).
When it comes to connecting via Bluetooth, the key feature is the automatic scan and connection with smartphone, thus avoiding the time-consuming set-up routine.
You can connect the device with Bluetooth and play music, and talk via a microphone installed just above your head. If you need to change songs, just do it with the controls displayed on screen.
Users can connect two devices at a time, eliminating the manual switching of the devices. The player has a five smartphone pairing memory in it.
When it comes to performance, the three components -- tweeters, speakers and sub-woofer -- give a seamless music experience. The output was crisp.
The neatly-designed speakers did a very good job. The sub-woofer gave punch to music with five equalizer options, including super bass, vocal and custom. Even at low volumes, the performance was beyond expectations.
What doesn't work?
The initial set-up is a bit confusing. We faced a problem in connecting the smartphone with the player via Bluetooth for music. The feature, however, worked for calls in the first attempt.
Conclusion: The complete system costs nearly Rs 52,000; so millennials who can spend Rs 600,000- 800,000 on a mid-price segment car could well pick a high-quality music experience as they drive.
(Sourabh Kulesh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)