Car infotainment these days is more of an IoT device than only entertainment, we moved from listening to our favorite music from tape cassettes to Audio/MP3 CDs, from Discs to Pen Drives and from Pen Drives to internet connected devices.
As we progress in technology, there are more features which get added to car infotainment frequently. We can watch movies on the go, navigate to our favorite places, make and receive phone calls, listen and reply to our messages all these tasks just a click away.
Today, with technological advancements we are able to see our car infotainment just like our phone, in addition to it there are some additional features provided by brands which may or may not be beneficial for our day to day use, let’s find them out.
Evolution from Car Entertainment to Car Infotainment
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These players were primarily used with technology of that time, tape cassettes which played an average duration of 60 mins. Music was recorded on magnetic tape cassettes by large production houses and some local music shops helped customers with recording of music of their choice.
In addition to playing tape cassettes, these players supported FM/AM bands of Radio; India primarily had ‘Vividh Bharti’ as the only station back then, whereas, western countries had a lot of FM stations playing different music.
The price range for these players was between ₹1000 to ₹50,000 depending upon additional features and budget.
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CD/MP3 players worked more or less like cassette players, however, they were able to play more music as it was stored in Compact Disc (CD) in either Audio or MP3 format. MP3 formats were able to compress the music and store more data on CD. The only drawback these players had was a need to replace the optical lens of the player as it used to be worn out due to excessive dust on CDs and Indian conditions.
The price range for these players was between ₹4000 to ₹50,000 depending upon additional features and budget.
USB Players with Bluetooth (About to outdate)
(Image Credit: pioneer-india.in)Pioneer India
USB players with Bluetooth are in demand currently due to compact chassis and no need to maintain separate inventory of CDs and cassettes. One can use these players either storing their music in a Pen Drive/SD Card (with card reader) or simply connect these players wirelessly using Bluetooth technology. One can make and receive calls as well while focusing on driving.
These products retail between ₹1200 to ₹7500 depending upon features and brand.
Touch Screen Players (Current Trend)
(Image Credit: pioneer-india.in)Pioneer India
Touch Screen Players as they are called are equipped with either a Capacitive or Resistive touch, which is mostly used in touch screen mobile phones. These players are designed in a 2DIN chassis which means they need double the space needed by earlier generations and are compatible with most of the cars in the market.
These players are capable of playing HD quality video (upto 1080p) from a Pen Drive/SD Card. They also have Bluetooth compatibility which means one can listen to music, view the entire call log, dial a number using on-screen dial-pad and receive calls. Players generally have an in-built microphone to answer calls and some higher models have a separate wired microphone which can be installed behind the steering wheel on the Odometer panel, depending on one’s requirement.
These products retail between ₹9000 to ₹75000 depending upon features and brand.
Android Infotainment Players (Current Trend)
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These players come with Android OS, it’s not an official version provided by Google but toned down to accommodate customer experience of watching almost everything in your car. These players are generally available with 9” or 10” (diagonally) screen sizes and have the same look and feel as Android mobiles. These players can be connected to the internet via mobile hotspot as they have inbuilt Wi-Fi and support viewing content on YouTube and OTT platforms. The biggest drawback of these players is durability, since these players are not made by reputed brands, there is a lack of quality control mechanism and quality tests.
OS connected Infotainment Players (Current Trend)
(Image Credit: Sony.co.in)Sony India
These players officially support connected technologies of Apple Car play and Android Auto as these players are made using licensed technology from Apple and Google to provide connected experience in the car. Major features of these players include making and receiving calls, reading of SMS/WhatsApp messages, support for Apple/Google Maps for navigation, playing of music via various music apps such as Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Wynk, Apple Music, Google Play Music etc.
These players have an excellent user interface and one feels like using a mobile phone on a car's dashboard without being distracted while driving. Moreover, these players are made by big brands of the industry such as Pioneer, Sony, Kenwood, JVC, Blaupunkt etc. so one is assured of quality of the product in the long run. These connected players are here to stay for a long time as governments are not in favor of permitting content viewing while driving, which is unsafe as well.
These products retail between ₹15000 to ₹85000 depending upon features and brand.