The wireless gurus over at Parrot have just announced the company's latest car receiver, the Asteroid, and from what we can see so far it looks pretty sweet. In addition to the usual the bells and whistles you'd expect from a modern day system – like geo-location, hands-free music listening, and hands-free telephony – the Asteroid has thrown an unexpected element into the mix. It's running on Android.
The single-DIN Asteroid system will feature a number of apps including Fuel Station, Parking, Radio control service, and Points of Interest. It seems there isn't access to the Android Market at the moment, but the existing apps should provide plenty of practical uses for driving.
Using the included GPS dongle you can enable services like geo-location and traffic information and alerts. The 3G dongle is not included however, so you'll need to pick up one of those on your own.
Music lovers should enjoy Parrot as it is Bluetooth compatible and plays your tunes from a surprisingly wide range of sources such as iPod/iPhone, SD/HD-HC card, line-in, or USB (x4). The hands-free Voice Music Search keeps everything on the safe side, as you need only to say the name of an artist or song initiate play. If music isn't found locally, Asteroid will look to online music libraries such as Deezer.com to kick out the jams you're looking for. And for users who like their music the old fashioned way, there's also regular AM/FM radio.
Unfortunately there doesn't look to be voice control for the geo-locational services, but phonebook synchronization is handy with text-to-speech synthesis for the names in your contact list.
The overall design of the Parrot Asteroid looks pretty sharp, as does the 3.2 inch TFT color screen (not touchscreen) that displays all your in-car info off the the right.
It's always fun to see Android operating systems popping up in unexpected places (E Mobile's pocket WiFi is probably our favorite implementation to date) and Parrot's effort to stuff it into a car stereo is exciting.
Incidentally, Parrot are the same folks who brought us the iPhone-controlled AR Drone.
No word on pricing just yet, but Parrot's Asteroid will drop in selected European countries in Q1 and will come stateside in Q2.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning