08
Jan
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One of the cooler things that went a bit unnoticed at this years CES was, without a doubt, Sony's all-new XSP-N1BT automotive stereo head unit. No, it's not exactly the most exciting name in the world, but Android enthusiasts may be snatching up this double DIN unit with great enthusiasm when it arrives in May for $250 for one reason: in consort with Sony's control app, it turns your Android smartphone into a touchscreen control unit for your car stereo.

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The XPS-N1BT, as you may have guessed, does this via a Bluetooth connection, though initial pairing is accomplished quickly and easily via NFC. All commands and audio from your smartphone are sent over Bluetooth, though your smartphone is able to control the stereo's local playback functionality, as well, through the Sony app that will be available on the Play Store. Of course, you're not limited to Sony's app for simple audio playback - any app that streams audio over Bluetooth (eg, Google Play Music, Spotify) will work, just like any other Bluetooth-enabled car stereo.

The head unit will be compatible with most Android phones via the app (which will be on the Play Store), though if your device is substantially larger than the Xperia Z1 it may not physically fit in the clamp mechanism, so Note 3 and Z Ultra owners probably shouldn't be preordering just yet. That said, the docking action isn't required to control the stereo, it simply makes using the Sony control app's interface easier (and less dangerous on the road).

The Xperia Z, Z1, and Z Compact (Z1F) will all be able to dock directly into a charging port on the stereo as well, using the side-mounted magnetic charging port those devices are all equipped with. Non-Xperia devices can charge via the external USB port on the head unit, which delivers up to 1.5 amps of charging power.

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The stereo has a standard LCD face when your phone isn't docked in it, as well as a CD player, auxiliary input, and a rear USB input that can be routed to another location in your car, like the glovebox. There's also a microphone, routed through the rear of the unit, that you can then mount on your dash for voice commands and phone calls. Without the phone, the stereo is a fully functional, if odd-looking, head unit, and features most of the goodies you'd expect of Sony's high-end automotive stereos.

As I said previously, the XSP-N1BT will go on sale in May for $250.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • BKR

    No Android Open Accesory support for playback via USB? Other than the Gear4 Connect, I haven't heard of any serious attempts at using the ADK.

  • http://thomashunsaker.com Thomas Hunsaker

    Starting the countdown now! I've been needing a new car stereo and this checks all the boxes!

  • Bill Anderson

    Not a Qi wireless charger? For shame...

    • Brayden Reesor

      I thought I read in the initial reports for this that it WAS wireless charging of some sort. Although I don't think Qi was specified.

      • Bill Anderson

        In the video, he says it wirelessly charges the Xperia, but then sticks his Nexus 5 in there and it doesn't charge. Queue the sad panda.

      • http://blog.artesea.co.uk/ artesea

        It uses the magnetic contacts on the side of the xperias for "wireless" charging.

        • Brayden Reesor

          Ah.. Well, that's technically wireless I guess. :/

          • Codemonkey83

            *Tethered

      • bldmovs

        I wonder if that front USB port would charge it with a super small cable?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      The charging "dock" fits the Xperia Z and Z1 magnetic "wireless" charging point on the sides of the phone. No one else uses this system.

    • Mihai

      Nothing's ever good enough. Is it that hard to use a usb cable?

    • Shark Bait

      Id like to run a charging coil out of that usb port and, boom....... PERFECT

  • Brayden Reesor

    $250? That's not bad at all for a new stereo head with built in Bluetooth.

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      That's what I was thinking. If I already had a custom head unit in my car, I'd be picking this up to play with, but it's not worth it for me to have to do everything to replace the stock unit.

      • Circ

        If only it had Qi charging! GAH!

        Did they say if it would work with the Play Store Z Ultra?

        • NemaCystX

          the Xperia's get direct USB jacks, and it has Qi charging

  • Cesar

    Shut up and take my money!

    • Daniel

      Yeah I think I will be acquiring this one myself. Hopefully it will play nicely with my steering wheel controls.

      I just want to be able to use all of my phone's functionality in the car...safely. That means integration with Google Now voice actions and texting by voice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

    It better fit my Xperia Z Ultra or they're not getting my money!

  • Sorian

    SO CLOSE! Based on the info on this page about it accepting the size of the Sony Xperia Z1 (144 x 74 x 8.5 mm (5.67 x 2.91 x 0.33 in)) or smaller, my nexus 7 is out... *sad face*. For reference, Nexus 7 2012 (198.5 × 120 × 10.56 mm (7.81 × 4.72 × 0.42 in))

    • NothingUnknown

      You could maybe remove the top clamp and just Velcro the n7 to the back using the bottom as a rest. For only 250 I'm going to take the chance.

      The only problem is getting calls on it. Don't know if I want to sacrifice that.

    • Sootie

      Nexus 7's are almost exactly double din size so never going to fit in the gap

      • Sorian

        Yea, it was a hopefully thought it would work. I might be migrating to the Asus Transformer Duel when it's released.

    • NemaCystX

      well that sucks, thats what I was thinking, I would get this unit and a Nexus 7 if it would fit

    • CalvesSlayer

      I'm optimistic this means that the Note 3 (5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 in) will fit

      • Scott ryan

        Hi... Did the note 3 fit

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    If only it had Wireless Qi, and I'd be all over this. Only other concern is I guess I'd need to set some sort of Tasker profile to make sure the screen's always on when it's connected to this thing or the power button will be inaccessible. Wonder if it can manage phone volume for me, too, since those buttons won't be reachable. Still, this is almost exactly what I wanted.

    • TheDave1022

      Whats wrong with the volume buttons on the front of the unit? Source, Voice, Volume, Release buttons are built into it

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        Because those may not control the phone, itself, which has its own independent volumes.

        • TheDave1022

          It should work like any headset when controlling Bluetooth volume at the very least.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Possibly, but that's an unknown. I know my current car stereo doesn't. It only controls its own volume, and I would assume similar for this, since the stereo's own volume controls are far more granular than the mere ten steps or so of Android.

          • Codemonkey83

            I use to think Bluetooth interoperability was dictated by the version of BT they used. For example, I assumed BT v2.1 meant it supported A2DP for stereo audio streaming and v4.0 meant it supported low power, but the reality is the manufacture can pick and choose the features to implement into the Bluetooth protocol stack. This includes AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) to let you pause/play/skip tracks and MAP (Message Access Profile) to read sms messages on your headunit.

            https://www.bluetooth.org/en-us/specification/adopted-specifications

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Correct. Exactly why I feel unconvinced that this merely having volume buttons means it will work.

            Besides that, Android didn't even get support for its volume being controlled via AVRCP until 4.4.

  • http://fireman.coclydesign.com/ Alexis C.

    Yes! i'm in the market for a replacement for my '04 4Runner. $250 in May, I can start saving

  • George Varghese

    If it works as described, this a seriously good product.

  • Sanosuke

    Why not available now!!!?!?!? Arg, I've spent days looking at the crap that is currently available. Went to a store today and someone tried to talk me into a 1k headunit with nav, just want to use my phone and have good bluetooth!

  • MefMaf

    does the bluetooth connection also connect to an external gps antenna? if not this would suck if you got a phone with an unreliable (broken) gps antenna, like your Nexus 5.

  • Jota Efe

    Some (admitedly less reputable) sites are reporting Qi charging: http://www.frandroid.com/blogs/pascal/2014/01/2698-sony-xsp-n1bt-mon-prochain-auto-radio/

  • NemaCystX

    whats a CD player? lol

    do we know if the dash unit uses USB audio?

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