Android In Your Dash Via Parrot's Asteroid Smart
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.