At CES 2012, Rydeen unveiled a head unit for cars that runs on Android. For those who don’t know, a head unit is the nice thing you have installed in your ’90s sedan so you can listen to CDs instead of being stuck with just the tape deck, and similar devices. Rydeen appears to have created the next step in head unit evolution with the beta version of the DV621, which features a 6.2 inch WVGA TFT color touch screen with an 800×480 resolution. Better yet, it’s powered by Android 2.2, so users will have access to the Android Marketplace.
The unit comes with an add-on antenna so users can access Rydeen’s own GPS service, but Google Navigation is available as well, in addition to e-mail and Internet access. Internet access is achieved by use of a USB dongle that comes with the head unit and plugs into a port in the back. Android apps are all represented by large icons that are easy to press without too much effort or concentration.
Of course, being a head unit, audio is still going to be the big draw. The DV621 includes a 4-channel amplifier and two sets of RCA audio connectors, if you want to throw a couple of extra subwoofers in the back once you have your unit installed. There’s also a separate audio/video output connection that allows for backseat monitors, which includes dual-zone functionality so the kids can watch their own favorite shows, and not be fighting for control during the entire car ride there and back. The disc drive reads CDs and DVDs that contain files using most major audio file formats. The front includes auxiliary and USB ports and SD card slots. It’s also Bluetooth-compatible, making it a potentially hands-free device and allowing users to stream music from their mobile devices. A built-in microphone rounds out the major features.
Rydeen claims that they have made design choices for the purpose of decreasing the distraction that the DV621 might be to some drivers, but it’s easy to imagine such a head unit becoming a big headache in the car of the wrong person. With cars becoming more and more connected, the point of safety needs to be driven home all the more. Use caution.
No word yet on pricing or availability for the Rydeen DV621.