There’s no getting away from it, the future is infotainment. It’s a good job too, because when it comes to in-car audio, there’s only one thing we want for our hard-earned cash – and that’s absolutely everything!
The technological magicians at Parrot have been putting out some of the best quality Bluetooth hands-free systems and accessories for years now so, it makes sense they’d eventually make a big splash in the world of full-on audio. This is the result, and dare I say it? Yes I do – for what you actually get, this is probably the best value double-DIN. we’ve ever tested.
It’s obvious Parrot are big on cutting-edge tech because they’ve packed the ASTEROID Smart with just about everything you can imagine. Short of making a cuppa and reading you a bedtime story there’s not much of your life you couldn’t run from right there inside your motor. The quality construction is a big plus too, easily rivaling units at 3-times the price. The 6.2-inch multi-touch screen is just the start, you also get iPod cables, SD reader and a USB extension included, along with the option of an interface to hook up your original steering wheel remote. A GPS receiver and hands-free mic is also in the box and it even comes with a useful removable faceplate to deter any passing light-fingered scum. Most of all though, it looks thoroughly expensive, we just can’t work out why it isn’t!
This is where this particular marvel comes into its own. Being from Parrot you’d expect some pretty special Bluetooth functions like wireless music streaming, crystal-clear hands-free calling and multi-phone connectivity and you’d be right – that’s exactly what you get. What we don’t normally expect though is WiFi connectivity, but the ASTEROID has that too. In fact, it can latch on to a wireless hotspot up to 100-meters away, use a 3G/4G USB dongle, or tether to your smartphone for sweet, fast, in-car Internet access. It automatically connects too, so within seconds, you’re online – all from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
Obviously no Internet connectivity would be complete without dedicated Apps, and there are plenty to choose from, mostly for free, when you connect to ASTEROID Market. Check your Facebook or the weather, choose from just about every sat-nav system out there, and listen to your favourite Internet radio or Spotify. If there’s one thing this head-unit does, its open up a whole new world of infotainment options!
It’s worth mentioning too that, because of the lack of CD mechanism the back of the unit is less than half the normal size. It might not seem important but it’s certainly useful when you’re converting a single-DIN car and rear space is tight. On certain cars (the BMW E46 springs immediately to mind) it’s necessary to cut out part of the rear heater box just to fit a normal double-DIN in place, with this compact unit there’s none of that – just slide it in and away you go!
Perhaps the ASTEROID’s most impressive quality is its ease of use, considering there are so many features. The beautifully designed user interface is completely intuitive, a bit like an iPad or porta-potty – you already know how to use it before you’ve even touched it. Just because the emphasis is on tech though, don’t think the musical experience suffers. What with all the music apps out there and the voice-control searching (which actually works) there’s plenty to get your teeth into. For all you audiophiles who need your system set up to perfection there’s a number of trick features like Car Spatializaton, Virtual Super Bass and a graphic equaliser too.
For more info see Parrot Asteroid