Do we have a Parrot on board?

Do we have a Parrot on board?

Do we have a Parrot on board?

0 comments 📅01 December 2014, 21:09

When changing a car we are usually faced with many choices and decisions. In case of used cars the most important criterion is the origin of the car and documented history. The available accessories and equipment usually come with the package. When getting a new car, the number of available options increases. The choice of a particular option for the car is very often dictated by how much money we are willing to spend. Many carmakers offer extensive configuration options and the car is almost custom made in the factory. Other producers offer closed configuration options with a possibility of adding external accessories. In such case, we often buy those accessories when their functions are not available as dedicated solutions in our car or it is difficult and expensive to fully integrate them. This is exactly what happened in my case. My selected version of the car did not have a built-in Bluetooth speakerphone. Moreover, I thought that I can use my smartphone for navigation. I spent one year thinking about a solution. Finally, based on earlier experiences, I selected the French producer Parrot. Selecting a particular model proved more difficult than I expected. My focus was on their flagship unit – Parrot Asteroid Smart – a multimedia station based on Android 2.3. Wait. Wasn’t my smartphone supposed to serve as navigation? Yes, but, it would require another cable on the dashboard, windscreen mount, make texting and email difficult and the phone might ring just when we need to get the next navigation command. On top of that Bluetooth hands-free set is still required.

What were my expectations towards Parrot?

Functionality similar to built-in car solutions while maintaining the flexibility of a smartphone-like operating system.

Cocpit - ekran

Did Parrot meet these expectations? If you are interested in finding out, please read on. I can add that since I installed the device 6 months ago I have travelled 10 000 kilometres with Parrot on board.

  1. Connection with a telephone

Parrot is a good speakerphone able to support two phones at the same time. Tested on a dozen or so handsets with different operating systems (Android, iOS, BlackBerry 10). I haven’t noticed any problems with pairing or synchronisation of contacts. Voice command function works properly suggesting options for contacts with multiple numbers (ex. mobile, office or home). In my car it is possible to answer the incoming call using the screen of the device or from my phone (for cars equipped with buttons on the steering wheel it is possible to integrate them with the device using Parrot’s UNIKA system). Additionally there are applications for selecting numeric keys, call log and making a list of favourite contacts. Sound quality: people on the other end of the line sometimes complained about the quality of connection, however, it could have been the fault of the telecommunications infrastructure.

  1. Navigation

Included in the set we find the following navigation applications: Google, Automapa and iGO (with a license for 6 months).

For short trips I usually choose Google navigation. Why? Its voice input is a great convenience and defining target destination takes seconds. Other systems require manual input of our destination. Trying to manually input this data from the keyboard is definitely not recommended while driving as it may cause an accident. Google navigation has some downsides too. It’s online – so data transmission costs abroad may be steep. For longer, international trips I definitely recommend offline applications. My favourite is Automapa. Apart from those mentioned, Parrot offers a few more options in its Asteroid Market.

This is a good moment to mention GPS performance. Fortunately, there is not much to write about. GPS sign is visible on the top bar right after initiating the device and I have never experienced any delays due to satellite reading problems (apart from underground parking, that is). Another point for Parrot.

  1. Cooperation with the car:

–          Multimedia control with factory installed buttons in the car (volume, next, previous, source) thanks to Parrot UNIKA module.

–          Screen brightness automatically synchronises with car lights (when daytime lights are on, the unit switches to daytime mode, when headlights are on, the unit switches to night mode).

–          Installation – in my case it was necessary to replace the frame around the radio, but thanks to this my Parrot looks like it’s been factory installed.

–          Volume level adapted to speed. This function is not supported by Parrot, however there are applications which can do it. I didn’t have a chance to test them, though.

  1. Connectivity:

–          A strong point for Parrot – stable, mobile access to the Internet via USB modem. In my car I tested a few Huawei models including LTE. All of them worked fine.

–          Internet access through WiFi.

–          Bluetooth – mainly for connecting to phones as a speakerphone or sound source. Thanks to Bluetooth it’s possible to connect other accessories – in my case Mobileye.

  1. Multimedia

First glance: FM radio, SD card or pendrive, Bluetooth music, line out and applications: internet radio, YouTube, Spotify, Deezer. Anything missing? I think so. Parrot does not support CDs and DVDs. Is it a problem? For me not, but I can understand that people might regard it as a nuisance. On the flipside, the device offers voice search for music analysing all connected pendrives, SD cards, Bluetooth streaming devices, internet radio apps and, for example, Spotify. The function works smoothly  and doesn’t make too many mistakes. As far as sound quality is concerned I have a feeling that it plays better than the factory installed system. This is probably thanks to its impressive equalizer. The application allows to set the sound to individual preferences on many levels. A lot of positives, with one minus. I felt that the FM radio had weaker reception than the system on board. In the city it was practically unnoticeable. Outside the city, however, there was some noise. This can be fixed by switching to internet radio. TuneIn app gives you access to your favourite stations anytime and anywhere.

  1. Applications

What do I use? Of course navigation, email, calendar, internet browser, weather, YouTube for bored kids, TuneIn, Spotify, iPla and Combo Client (mobile application for my telemetrics). Some of the applications from the list I installed from apk files. For me this is enough. More applications can be found in the Parrot dedicated market – ASTEROID. More, but don’t expect too many. Compared with Google Play, Asteroid offers much less variety, however, every month new applications become available, including country-specific ones. Fortunately the producer gives users the option to install apps directly from files. This substantially offsets the limited number of apps available from the store.

  1. Gadgets

What else is there? A possibility to install a rear-view camera – which I used. Moreover, possibility of connecting external monitors (for example in headrests) with signal and content distribution. By the way, you can connect your TV tuner as well. That more or less wraps it up.

Cofanie1

Summary – did the device fulfil my expectations? Was it as functional as factory installed systems while keeping the flexibility comparable to a smartphone? Despite certain drawbacks, which will soon be eliminated by the growing market and the Internet, I can say that the system performed as expected, mainly due to its quality, Android operating system and integration with the car. It looks like Automotive Infotainment will follow the direction taken by Parrot and soon most cars will offer such solutions as standard equipment.

Test configuration:

Parrot Asteroid Smart with applications.

Mitsubishi ASX Invite 2012.

Specifications:

General:

  • 6.2’’ capacitive touch screen with Multi-touch.
  • Removable front panel.
  • Bluetooth® v3.0 with EDR.
  • Bluetooth® profiles: HFP, PBAP, OPP,HSP, SPP, A2DP, AVRCP.
  • Android™ 2.3.
  • Apple certified: Made for iPod®/iPhone®.
  • Internet access via: 3G/4G USB modem, smartphone (via USB or Bluetooth®).
  • System update via USB memory.
  • Function buttons on the steering wheel compatible with Parrot UNIKA.

Technical data:

  • Integrated GPS receiver SiRFStar IV™.
  • 4 x 55W  MOSFET amplifier – 2 x line out – 1 x line in.
  • Noise reduction, full duplex and echo cancellation.
  • Memory available to the user: 1 GB/8 GB (SD card).
  • RAM memory:512 MB/4 GB DDR (memory for applications).

Dimensions: 178 x 99,8 x 114 mm.

Weight: 1000g.

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