Connected car infotainment systems are all the rage with new cars hitting the road recently. Armed with touchscreens, drivers can use their smartphones to power their car’s stereo and entertainment systems, in a way that still isn’t that safe but we’ll keep telling ourselves it is, anyway.
But, that’s for people buying new cars. Most people are not in a position to do that. Not to worry – the next generation of head units are here, thanks to the Sony XAV-601BT, powered by MirrorLink technology.
To clear up the jargon, a head unit is the souped up thing you install when you remove your old car’s pitiful stereo system that could only play cassette tapes. In the old days, it meant a new CD player for your car, along with maybe an auxiliary port.
Today, it means something different. The XAV-601BT is designed to mimic the new infotainment systems coming out in new cars, packing in a 6.1” or 7” touchscreen, a DVD player, and two USB ports. Connecting a mobile device to the unit (via cable, not wireless) will allow the driver or passenger to control media on the mobile device using the head unit. Instead of needing to look down at a smartphone, for example, the driver can adjust tracks and volume using the head unit as they would with a regular car radio.
The MirrorLink technology mentioned above is a way for cars and mobile devices to communicate with each other, with an emphasis on the car-to-device direction. The idea is to allow the driver to control their mobile device using the head unit (or in some cases, buttons on the steering wheel) in an effort to keep the driver more focused on the road. It’s still distracted driving, but it beats having the driver take his or her eyes off the road completely to fiddle with a smartphone.
Being an upgrade for an existing head unit, the XAV-601BT can be taken off and stored away elsewhere, if you’re concerned about theft.
The XAV-601BT is available now. You can currently find one on Amazon for about $550, but keep in mind that you will need to get it installed.