In-Car Nirvana?

Pioneer was also very excited to talk about in-car technology, announcing its AVIC-LINC. AVIC-LINC is an in-car device which appears to do pretty much anything you could ever want it to. You get full satellite navigation features, with space for 12 million points of interest. MSN direct allows for real time traffic information like TMC, but also offers movies, weather reports, petrol prices etc.

AVIC-LINK has full Bluetooth implementation, so you can use it as a hands free device with your mobile phone, while advanced voice recognition software allows for complete control via voice commands. It has an SD card slot and USB port for streaming music/video from memory devices, and of course, can also hook up to your iPod.

I'm not certain when AVIC-LINC will be available as a retail product, or even if it will be launched in the UK, but if it does appear on the shores of Blighty you can be sure that there will be a full TR review quick, sharp.

Finally, Pioneer talked about the death of high fidelity, citing MP3 as the slayer of high end audio. I have to admit that I agree with Pioneer on this count - for me, MP3 has proved without a shadow of a doubt that consumers are more concerned with convenience than quality. However what I'm not so sure about is Pioneer's new Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR) technology.

Pioneer is claiming that ASR can take a heavily compressed MP3 file and reinstate the data that has been thrown away by the lossy compression method. Now, call me a cynic, but I find this very hard to believe. Basically, once you have physically thrown away data in order to compress music, it's gone, simple as that. And even if ASR could retrieve discarded data, how would it even know what had been thrown away?

I'll try to get a few minutes with someone at Pioneer later in the week to see if they can convince me about ASR, but I'm not holding my breath. That said, with the incredible TV announcements, I'm willing to reign in my cynicism on ASR for now.

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