Ted Cardenas, Director of Product Planning for Pioneer Electronics , likes smartphones. Much as he likes, them, however, he feels that they’re too small and require too much attention for use while driving. That’s why, today at CES in Las Vegas, he unveiled his company’s new in-dash navigation systems. Pioneer has partnered with Aha Internet Radio to bring online social media services such as Facebook and Twitter to the system, which actually reads drivers their text messages, traffic updates and other text-based information aloud as they’re driving – along with playing a swag of online radio stations via Pandora. Cardenas also presented the Smart Cradle, an earlier-previewed dash-mounted iPhone holder that enhances GPS-enabled apps.

New in-car navigation systems

Both new models include the social networking and infotainment connectivity mentioned above with the flagship AVIC-Z130BT featuring 4GB of Flash memory, 7-inch WVGA touch screen, 3D graphics accelerator, DVD playback and Dual Zone capability for rear seat playback. Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network5 service is accessible for free and there's also voice recognition, USB connectivity and an SD card slot.

The AVIC-Z130BT is slated for release in April at a cost of US$1499.

The not quite as sleek looking AVIC-X930BT model has the same 4GB memory, 3D graphics accelerator, DVD playback and connectivity options as it's stablemate in a smaller 6.1-inch touch screen format. It will hit shelves in March priced at US$999.

Smart Cradle

The Smart Cradle contains a built-in accelerometer, GPS and gyroscope. These are designed to boost the performance of any apps that incorporate the phone’s GPS system. It also has Bluetooth technology for hands-free calling, charges the phone’s battery, and has an automatic sound leveler, which raises or lowers the phone’s speaker volume in accordance to noise levels within the car. Additionally, it contains audio and video outputs, so digital content from the phone can be played back through the car’s own entertainment system. Lastly, it simply serves as a method of mounting one’s phone up where it’s easy to see.

Pricing for the Smart Cradle has yet to be announced.

Cardenas also spoke of Pioneer’s Network Vision Heads-Up Display Concept, which projects a smartphone’s screen content onto the inside bottom surface of the windshield – it turns it into a heads-up display, in other words. The prototype system will be on display at Pioneer’s booth, once the trade show floor opens.