It's not unusual for an aftermarket car deck to support an iPhone or iPod connection. After all, why shouldn't you be able to listen to all the tunes you carry in your pocket?
But the Pioneer AVIC-Z130BT ($999.99) goes above and beyond what you're used to, thanks to its 7-inch touchscreen display and multiple connectivity options, plus app support, GPS navigation with traffic and voice control.
There are a few ways to connect your devices to the AVIC-Z130BT, but the easiest option — and one that offers the most advantages — is by plugging your iPhone or iPod touch to the stereo via the white 30-pin connector. Once you do this — say, woven through to your glove compartment — you'll immediately see your media on the large display. You can tap to select a specific playlist, artist, album, song, genre, and podcasts. If you need to scroll through your media alphabetically, use your finger to swipe up and down to find the letter you're after.
Alternatively you can tap the Video button and play content for your passengers that's stored on your iOS device — such as downloaded TV shows, movies or music videos — or while it takes up data you can also stream video, such as YouTube or Netflix videos. Note: you can't play video while the car is in drive, but while Pioneer doesn't endorse it (nor do we), this can be overridden by the installer, therefore kids in the backseat can watch while you drive, for example. Or you can route it to backseat monitors, if you like. Speaking of video, this deck has a slot-load CD/DVD player just above the touchscreen.
Speaking of streaming content, Pioneer offers a few different iOS apps you can download and use, such as Aha Radio, which can read you Facebook status updates, Twitter feeds and streaming news, comedy and other material. It's read in a human-like voice — not perfect, mind you — but certainly audible. Aha Radio also lets you find nearby restaurants via Yelp!, traffic updates based on your area (major cities are supported) and access various podcasts, too. You can also stream Pandora Internet radio in your car.
Pioneer's AVIC-Z130BT also has maps for the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, including 12 million points of interest (restaurants, hotels, gas stations and bank machines), real-time traffic updates, a long list of recently visited locations (bookmarks) and advanced lane guidance that will tell you what lane to get into before it's too late.
As with many other aftermarket car decks, there's an AM/FM radio (with support for satellite and HD radio) and Bluetooth support that turns your stereo into a hands-free speakerphone (and you'll see the name off the person calling on the screen). Plus, you can stream music stored on the smartphone, too.
But while there's a front-loading microSD slot for flash cards, nothing I tried worked — even when following the instructions in the manual. Therefore, I wasn't able to play any media.
Overall, however, despite its steep suggested retail price of $999.99 (it can be found for as low as $799.99, though), this Pioneer product delivers the goods. For the more technical specifications — such as output details — visit the official website for the product.