By Chris Nicholls

MELBOURNE: Pioneer has introduced a new car navigation system that it claims combines the power of an in-dash system with the portability of a stick-on device.

The AVIC-F500BT comes with a large 5.8-inch wide VGA display, a size rare in the portable category, and will connect with all portable music players, as well as “virtually” all factory car-audio systems via USB, memory card slot or Bluetooth, to play music, as well as navigate its user to their destination.  

The unit combines a 4X50 MosFET amplifier, hidden from view when installed, with a detachable touchscreen, and can use the amplifier to control even the car’s original audio system.

All source units are controlled via the touch panel display. When detached, the screen can play video and music from an iPod, as well as continue to navigate, which means it can also be used in a second vehicle, albeit without the amplifier.

Customers can also use the AVIC-F500BT with an optional camera input and reversing trigger that switches to the camera when reversing.

Those who wish to talk while driving can use the Parrot hands-free Bluetooth phone interface. Contacts and calls are displayed through the touch screen.

Navigation can be either overhead or in moving 3D, and the device uses a Text-to-Speech (TTS) engine to help pronouncement of street names. 

“There is nothing like AVIC-F500BT on the market. It is the world’s first navigation system to have all the features and power of a fixed in-car system with the flexibility of a portable device,” said Paul Baddeley, product planning manager, Pioneer Mobile Entertainment Group.

The AVIC-F500BT will be available from late autumn 2008 and can be installed in “virtually any vehicle”, Pioneer claimed.