Sony is well known for its in-car audio solutions, from head units to amplifiers and speakers. But its newest product comes as a surprise to us. It merges car audio with your smartphone. This is the Sony XSP-N1BT, a new head unit announced at CES 2014 that uses your smartphone as the display.
Instead of a a large display on the front, like most head units for cars do, this “cradle” just has a black face. This is where you insert your phone, where it will automatically pair using NFC and charge via Qi technology (if your device supports those functions). It can also charge your device over USB. The head unit then uses your smartphone as a display by way of a Sony remote app, where you can select your input. You can stream audio over Bluetooth or use more traditional means like CDs and radio.
Price and release date weren’t announced, but I have to say that this is an absolutely amazing product. As someone who uses Bluetooth audio for the car exclusively, I would love to dock my smartphone and have it control my head unit (though the curved back would probably be ill suited for such a cradle). You can even multitask with Google Maps while it’s in the cradle.
However, I worry this head unit won’t be very popular when it comes out. Not many cars these days have the double DIN slot necessary to install a custom head unit, so only owners with older cars will be able to use this. However, I still love the idea. Do you?