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

Parrot's Asteroid Smart, From The Front

Parrot's first-generation Asteroid (now called the Asteroid Classic) fit within a single-DIN form factor and sported a 3.2-inch LCD display. The Asteroid Smart is part of Parrot's second-gen platform, and bumps the screen up to 6.2 inches with a resolution of 800x480. Although that's not the high-def 1280x720 or 1920x1080 we expect from a new smartphone or tablet, it's adequate, particularly when you're looking at it from a couple of feet away. The Asteroid Smart employs a capacitive touchscreen as its sole user interface. There's a power button up front, but that's just to turn the head unit on and off.

The display looks good, but as soon as the sun comes out (a rarity in Washington, though it does happen), glare becomes a major annoyance. You can't really do anything about it, either. The aftermarket nature of the Asteroid means you're at the mercy of the placement of your factory stereo.

The power button is located on a slim removable bar that doubles as the head unit's face plate. Simply press the sliding release latch up top and it comes off. Parrot magnetizes the face plate to make reattachment quick and easy, which is a nice touch. The face plate is necessary for the Asteroid Smart to work, so we didn't mess with it much, leaving it connected for most of our review.

Under the face plate, you'll find an SD slot populated by an 8 GB memory card with map data for the iGo navigation software that we'll cover later in this story. The SD card is replaceable, and we successfully tested 32, 64, and 128 GB cards in the Asteroid Smart, so long as they were formatted FAT32. Unfortunately, the map data is non-transferable.

Don't plan on swapping SD cards out regularly, though. Frankly, the process is a major pain. The SD card ejects from the spring-loaded slot, but only sticks out enough to sit flush with the chassis. We found it almost impossible to remove the card without a pair of tweezers, which we left in the car for our review.

A hardware reset button above the SD card slot comes in handy in case the Asteroid Smart locks up, or if you need to reboot it for a little hacking action. The button is recessed though, so you'll need a pen or paper clip to press it.

  • Tanquen
    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.
    Reply
  • blackmagnum
    What a name!
    Reply
  • woodshop
    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.
    Reply
  • flong777
    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.
    Reply
  • Bloodire
    $100 tablet and $70 software. Bang! touchscreen on your car. Oh and whatever is costs you to mount the tablet.
    Reply
  • daekar
    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.
    Reply
  • the_crippler
    Now I find myself wondering what software Bloodire is talking about...
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11128834 said:
    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.

    11129463 said:
    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.

    11129722 said:
    $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.

    11130207 said:
    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 :).
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11130452 said:
    Now I find myself wondering what software Bloodire is talking about...

    He's probably talking about GPS software, ie TomTom or Garmin
    Reply
  • brazuka331
    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!
    Reply