Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Parrot Asteroid Smart Review: Android In Your Car's Dash?

Parrot Asteroid Smart Review: Android In Your Car's Dash?
By

Parrot combines Android 2.3 with a double-DIN head unit to create an advanced infotainment system for automotive enthusiasts. We hook it up in two difference vehicles, side-load apps, root it, and let you know whether it's worth the $600 Parrot is asking.

Nowadays, Android and iOS integration are must-have features when it comes to infotainment systems and aftermarket car stereos. Auto makers also give us USB ports, auxiliary input, and Bluetooth connectivity to get our smartphones and flash drives hooked up. But not everyone can afford a brand new car with all of that technology built-in. Fortunately, the aftermarket is always ready to step in with add-on solutions.

If you've been around for long enough, you've seen the car audio scene change dramatically. During the past 10 years, former high-companies closed down shop entirely, scuttle their high-end brands, or change hands. Think Eclipse, Denon, MB Quart, Diamond Audio, Pioneer Premiere, and more. Those that didn't close down or sell out are left racing to the lowest price points. Companies like Alpine, Pioneer, and Kenwood went from selling head units tuned for sound quality selling for more than $500 to a bunch of sub-$300 products that trade quality-oriented features for mass market appeal.

Fortunately, that race to the bottom is helping make in-dash navigation systems more affordable, too. Units that would have sold for $2000 a little while back now go for less than $1000.

And that takes us to the current subject at hand: Parrot's Asteroid Smart double-DIN head unit.

Parrot is mostly known for its Wi-Fi-controlled AR.Drone quadcoptor. But before the AR.Drone became a "thing," the company gained notoriety for universal Bluetooth kits that added wireless connectivity to virtually any car. Parrot even managed to license its Bluetooth technologies to aftermarket manufacturers like Kenwood, Pioneer, and eventually, Alpine.

In my younger days, I had an Alpine Bluetooth adapter accessory for my head unit before Alpine switched to a Parrot-licensed accessory. The adapter was horrible. It lacked noise cancellation, and most people had trouble hearing me speak. Eventually, I upgraded to a Pioneer AVIC-F700BT, one of the company's first Windows CE-based devices with Parrot Bluetooth and remember it being a major improvement. It was nice to have the freedom to carry on brief conversations without the person on the other end repeating the same thing over and over.

And that brings us to the Asteroid Smart, Parrot's second-generation car stereo, powered by Android.

Display 21 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    Tanquen , July 9, 2013 9:43 PM
    I’ve been looking for some time now to get a phone friendly head unit but they all come up lacking. You need to root them to get any real functionality and they are slow. Slow to boot and run apps with old operating systems and not all that stable. Pioneer now has AppRadio 3 but it still has issues also. Seems like such a simple thing. I just want to mirror my phone on the head units display.
  • 0 Hide
    blackmagnum , July 9, 2013 10:25 PM
    What a name!
  • 2 Hide
    woodshop , July 10, 2013 12:01 AM
    Throw in at least a dual core, 1 gb ram, Android jelly bean (for Google now) and a 720p screen. Only then will people buy these head units. Or, just tape your nexus 7 to the to the glovebox and it can serve as a secondary airbag.
  • 0 Hide
    flong777 , July 10, 2013 3:41 AM
    It is interesting to see this third party hardware to update vehicles without computer touch screens but after reading the article, it doesn't seem worth the trouble. Even if you do a great job of installation your left with a buggy system and a mediocre GPS. It appears that third party updates like this one need to grow up some.

    What is the real deal killer is the mediocre audio - you would have thought that they could have gotten this right as the technology for quality audio has been around for at least 15 years.
  • 0 Hide
    Bloodire , July 10, 2013 4:45 AM
    $100 tablet and $70 software. Bang! touchscreen on your car. Oh and whatever is costs you to mount the tablet.
  • 0 Hide
    daekar , July 10, 2013 6:16 AM
    Why would I want to put something like this in my car when I and everyone I know has a smartphone? I just place my phone on the dash when I want nav, and I usually don't even bother taking calls while driving. If I did, I'd use a Bluetooth headset. Besides, lots of people keep cars far longer than they keep phones. 7 years from now, do you really think that this device will be able to keep up? The whole touchscreen control nav console infotainment thing is completely impractical. Take away controls with tactile feedback. Replace with a screen with almost no feedback at best. Add proprietary software and a dash of obsolescence. I just don't see it.
  • 0 Hide
    the_crippler , July 10, 2013 6:51 AM
    Now I find myself wondering what software Bloodire is talking about...
  • -1 Hide
    tuanies , July 10, 2013 6:54 AM
    Quote:
    Throw in at least a dual core, 1 gb ram, Android jelly bean (for Google now) and a 720p screen. Only then will people buy these head units. Or, just tape your nexus 7 to the to the glovebox and it can serve as a secondary airbag.


    You can do that but it won't look as nice nor would your steering wheel controls work.

    Quote:
    It is interesting to see this third party hardware to update vehicles without computer touch screens but after reading the article, it doesn't seem worth the trouble. Even if you do a great job of installation your left with a buggy system and a mediocre GPS. It appears that third party updates like this one need to grow up some.

    What is the real deal killer is the mediocre audio - you would have thought that they could have gotten this right as the technology for quality audio has been around for at least 15 years.


    The audio quality is fine, just the function is lacking. I believe they have TomTom on the Asteroid Market now too for those that dislike iGo.

    Quote:
    $100 tablet and $70 software. Bang! touchscreen on your car. Oh and whatever is costs you to mount the tablet.


    Will not look as nice though.

    Quote:
    Why would I want to put something like this in my car when I and everyone I know has a smartphone? I just place my phone on the dash when I want nav, and I usually don't even bother taking calls while driving. If I did, I'd use a Bluetooth headset. Besides, lots of people keep cars far longer than they keep phones. 7 years from now, do you really think that this device will be able to keep up? The whole touchscreen control nav console infotainment thing is completely impractical. Take away controls with tactile feedback. Replace with a screen with almost no feedback at best. Add proprietary software and a dash of obsolescence. I just don't see it.


    Some people want a clean look that doesn't require slapping their phone on the dash or just want an upgrade from the plane factory setup, maybe an old factory navigation setup. The removal of tactile feedback and controls are typically with cheaper cars, the luxury vehicles still have buttons. But 7-years down the road, you could probably replace this Parrot with a 4th or 5th generation unit :) .
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 10, 2013 6:55 AM
    Quote:
    Now I find myself wondering what software Bloodire is talking about...


    He's probably talking about GPS software, ie TomTom or Garmin
  • 1 Hide
    brazuka331 , July 10, 2013 7:23 AM
    Add a place for me to put a SIM card for its on data and full Google Play store support and i'll buy it! Why is it so hard for these companies to make what seems so simple! We want an in-dash and works like a tablet with full android and not your sh**ty bloatware!
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , July 10, 2013 10:25 AM
    Quote:
    Why would I want to put something like this in my car when I and everyone I know has a smartphone? I just place my phone on the dash when I want nav, and I usually don't even bother taking calls while driving. If I did, I'd use a Bluetooth headset. Besides, lots of people keep cars far longer than they keep phones. 7 years from now, do you really think that this device will be able to keep up? The whole touchscreen control nav console infotainment thing is completely impractical. Take away controls with tactile feedback. Replace with a screen with almost no feedback at best. Add proprietary software and a dash of obsolescence. I just don't see it.


    After buying a modern Nissan with steering wheel controls and a touch screen interface, I won't get a car without it anymore. Being able to fully integrate my ipod and control the music through the controls without taking my hands off the steering wheel alone is worth the cost of the car. Plus having lots of other features like XM radio and bluetooth audio only adds some extra cool stuff to it.
  • 0 Hide
    Bloodire , July 10, 2013 3:21 PM
    I use Tuner studio for my car and the software from innovative motorsport's o2 sensor package.. There are many different ones for different vehicles and all.
  • 0 Hide
    gorgerax , July 10, 2013 3:30 PM
    This Parrot unit is FAR from the only aftermarket unit using Android. Dynavin has been making them for years (they sell units based on Win CE as well.) and there are several "clone" manufacturers as well...look on eBay! I installed the Android version first in my 2004 BMW but it was "buggy" so I swapped it out for the WIN CE and am very happy with it. http://www.dynavin.com/
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 10, 2013 4:01 PM
    Quote:
    This Parrot unit is FAR from the only aftermarket unit using Android. Dynavin has been making them for years (they sell units based on Win CE as well.) and there are several "clone" manufacturers as well...look on eBay! I installed the Android version first in my 2004 BMW but it was "buggy" so I swapped it out for the WIN CE and am very happy with it. http://www.dynavin.com/


    I've seen the Dynavins but the rate they release new versions and stop updating them doesn't make them very appealing. I'd trust Parrot with updates more than a company that sells cheap hardware with a massive markup and no software development to show for it.
  • 0 Hide
    Demianra , July 10, 2013 5:33 PM
    Too xpensive for the hardware but this is the future in car stereo, with a lot of hard work and 3G modem this could be a better option.
  • 0 Hide
    gorgerax , July 10, 2013 5:40 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    This Parrot unit is FAR from the only aftermarket unit using Android. Dynavin has been making them for years (they sell units based on Win CE as well.) and there are several "clone" manufacturers as well...look on eBay! I installed the Android version first in my 2004 BMW but it was "buggy" so I swapped it out for the WIN CE and am very happy with it. http://www.dynavin.com/


    I've seen the Dynavins but the rate they release new versions and stop updating them doesn't make them very appealing. I'd trust Parrot with updates more than a company that sells cheap hardware with a massive markup and no software development to show for it.


    No argument from me. As I said, the Android unit was buggy. I's simply correcting the mis-information included in the original article. Cheers!
  • 1 Hide
    tuanies , July 10, 2013 5:57 PM
    Quote:


    No argument from me. As I said, the Android unit was buggy. I's simply correcting the mis-information included in the original article. Cheers!


    I don't think I ever wrote it was the only Android head unit, but just Parrot's second-generation unit.
  • 0 Hide
    casemods , July 16, 2013 8:44 PM
    Bring the price down to $200, add a physical volume knob, and I'll buy one.

    Until then, I'll stick with my dnx-6160
  • 0 Hide
    teknic111 , July 17, 2013 9:29 AM
    It's a step in the right direction, but way to much money for what it is. You are basically buying an old non-hd android unit, with very little support. I'll keep waiting.
  • 0 Hide
    Mike Freestone , September 8, 2013 3:21 PM
    Sounds like they still have a way to go. I use a HTC One and I'm not about to purchase another Android unit that is so out of date it probably won't run CoPilot.

    I will wait for someone to produce a good Nexus 7 car kit with ISO connectors. Meanwhile my Kenwood running what looks like Window CE will do fine for now. My Kenwood will even display SMSs (if connected to a compatible phone,of which there are not many.) Not sure how safe reading an on-screen text is while driving is.

    What we really want is an onscreen HUD that projects the image forward in front of the car so you are still focused on the road. Information not movies of course :) 
Display more comments