Monday, July 27, 2009
Pioneer AVIC automotive in-dash GPS
I recently purchased a Pioneer AVIC F700BT double din in-dash car stereo with GPS. Which is exciting for me but probably not that interesting to you.
What is interesting is that shortly after installation I did some searching to see if anyone has done any hacks or mods to this particular unit. It turns out that all of the F & X series Pioneer GPS units are running Windows CE 5.0 under the hood. And what's even more interesting, there are freely available tools out there that allow you to easily boot directly into the CE environment.
As these devices have 2gig of internal storage, ARM processors and 256meg or RAM, this is pretty ideal platform to experiment with if you have dreams of making custom car computer software. The F700 comes with a CD drive and the F90 & F900 both come with DVD drives and MSN Direct hardware.
If nothing else you could easily create an SD card that boots into the CE environment and provides a web browser. With a quick tether to your cell phone you'd have Internet access on your in dash car computer.
As I experiment with my new CE toy I'll post updates. In the meantime head over to http://www.avic411.com/ if you want to learn more about hacking Pioneer GPS devices.
I'll also share my initial thoughts on using the F700BT and how it compares to my old Eclipse 3424.
First off, the F700 has a fan so instantly it has background noise, although its not noticeable in my Acura once the car is running. If you have a really high-end car you might notice it, but then you'd probably also already have GPS from the factory.
The sound quality is good but I had to re-tune my system as the Eclipse has 4V pre-outs vs the F700's 2 Volt. I also seem to be getting background hiss on AM radio, but its minor.
The interface is good but you'll definitely want to upgrade to the 3.0 version of the software as it greatly improves performance. Once you learn the layout you can get to everything quickly, although its still not quite as easy to use as a dedicated audio player. That being said its more intuitive than my old Eclipse.
Its performed great loadings CDs and MP3s from CDs, SD cards and USB sticks and the GPS works really well. It also pairs almost instantly with my Palm Tro Pro via Bluetooth and transferring contacts to the deck was easy.
Overall I'm very happy with the purchase for the money and with the ability to access the CE environment I'm thrilled.
It doesn't come with a remote control and the F700 does not have an IR port so you won't be able to add one. (I never used mine in the past anyways).
You'll need to purchase an additional cable to use your iPod and you might as well buy it before you have the deck installed as it plugs into the back.