With this year's SEMA show fast approaching, aftermarket car-tech manufacturers are starting to release details on the next generation of their in-car gadgetry. This week, Pioneer unveiled the latest addition to its AVIC series of all-in-one in-car navigation and media devices, the single-DIN-size AVIC-N4. Like the AVIC-Z1 and AVIC-D3 systems, the N4 features a 7-inch touch-screen LCD display, which can be used to show maps, view DVDs, and program a range of media sources, including compressed audio discs, and iPods. Unlike the larger systems, the N4 comes with a motorized faceplate, which can stow away, enabling the system to fit in standard, DIN-size stereo slots. With optional add-on modules, the N4 can also provide live traffic information for its navigation function, and can be used as a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface.
Before you rush out to drop $1,600 on replacing your factory car stereo with one of these, though, it might be worth noting that the N4 looks like it suffers from the same design flaw that we found in our review of the AVIC-D3: with only one disc drive, the system can be used for playing CDs or for programming navigation, but not both. While the N4 has "memory navigation" mode, which stores a specific route to the system's local memory allowing you to listen to discs en route, any changes to the route or entry of a new destination means that you have to reinsert the navigation DVD-ROM.