When I reviewed Pioneer’s AVH-Z5050BT head unit soon after its release, I mentioned Pioneer had stepped up their game by delivering a feature-rich head unit at an affordable price. What really impressed me was the introduction of Apple Car Play and Android Auto, which not connects iOS and Android devices but also provides a seamless hands-free user interface while driving.

Pioneer’s primary focus is driver safety, simplicity, convenience and musical enjoyment – all rolled into one. Their Z-Series range of head units have been transformed from the more conventional head unit into a new-age “smartphone-type” head unit which utilises apps such as Google Maps, Waze, Spotify and Mix Cloud to name but a few. Another personal favourite for me is the on-board audio processor that for a system to be setup in Network mode, allowing you to run a fully active 2-way speaker system via the front and rear channels. The third output channel will always be the dedicated subwoofer channel. In addition, the pre-set and an adjustable time alignment setting does wonders for any audio system. So how did Pioneer improve their game? They introduced the new  AVH-Z9150BT……

 

Pioneer’s AVH-Z9150BT

After having reviewed the first Z-Series head units, I made a list explaining what my perfect dream head unit should feature. I sent it over to the guys at Pioneer, not really expecting anything to come from it. A few months later, they released a new flagship model that surprisingly had everything I had wished for, including a few extra bits of brilliance.

The AVH-Z9150BT has a detachable face and a handy carry pouch which I personally love. Another handy feature is the dual camera inputs – one for the front, and one the rear. Why would I need one in the front I hear you ask? Simple, lowered cars hate clearing curbs. Dual USB ports is a definite plus! – This allows for a portable hard drive/thumb drive to be plugged in, while the second port allows for OTG connectivity like charging your phone’s battery or plugging in an iPod.

WI-Fi Operation.

One of the head unit’s main key features is the wireless (WiFi) connectivity for Apple CarPlay. The cherry on the cake is saved for Android users as selected units can now be mirrored wirelessly to the head unit. In an era whereby streaming almost anything off a cell phone is a daily occurrence, this added feature offers travelling entertainment value. Kids have become tech savvy, meaning they can “survive” all day long by just watching YouTube.

In order to make use of this feature, I downloaded the Mirror Cast App. From there, I switched on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to enable connection to the head unit and its audio system. Now given this feature is wireless, I expected a delay of sorts between the device and the head unit, however everything worked perfectly. The head unit display also responded quickly to swipes and taps. I even handed the phone over to my kid and he absolutely loved it the ease of use.

 

GPS.

It’s without a doubt that GPS-enabled services such as Waze and Google Maps offer convenience and a more cost-effective way of travelling. Therefore, the need for utilising outdated external GPS units are now a thing of the past as Pioneer have added a GPS antenna to the head unit which improves the signal to your mobile phone. How cool is that?

 

Google Maps and Data Costs.

 

One of the features of the Android Auto and Car Play is the ability to use Google Maps. and the affordability it offers with regards to data costs. To see how affordable it really is, I conducted my own test. I navigated from my home in Ruimsig, West Rand to OR Tambo International Airport in the East Rand. I used an LTE-capable smartphone that was connected to Cell C’s network and fired up Google Maps. Before I carry on, it’s important to remember that data cost does not work on distance travelled but on the amount of time used.

With Google Maps running through Android Auto to the head unit, my 60-minute journey used 5.58MB of data. If you dissect the value, the pricing ranges from as little as 11 cents (based on a 1-Gig daily bundle) to 90 cents (based on a 25MB daily data bundle with Cell C). If you travel from Johannesburg down to Durban for example, the cost for using Google Maps for those 6 hours equates to less than R10.00.

For more info, check out Pioneer South Africa’s Face Book page.
https://www.facebook.com/PioneerSouthAfrica/

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