And it’s all thanks to the always-growing number of digital media receivers on the market, as they allow for an easy upgrade of the infotainment system to get modern capabilities like the ones mentioned above.
There are tens, maybe hundreds of models out there, and while at first glance this is good news, it actually makes choosing the right media receiver much harder.
The Pioneer DMH-1500NEX is one of the models that are definitely worth checking out.
The Pioneer head unit comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display, so you can interact with everything on the screen using touch. Voice input is also supported, with Alexa offered built-in only in the United States as long as the Vozsis app is installed.
However, if you use Android Auto or CarPlay, you also get access to Google Assistant and Siri, and no extra hardware is required, as Pioneer is also offering a microphone in the box.
This is good news because Bluetooth support is also available, which means you can talk on the phone wirelessly without necessarily running Android Auto and CarPlay.
The display features a WVGA resolution and sports LED backlight, and the integrated dimmer is configured to work automatically with vehicle illumination. This is why it’s very important to get the wiring right, so if you’re not sure you can correctly install a 2-DIN head unit, you’d better reach out to a service center.
The Android Auto and CarPlay support is only wired, so you need a cable to run the two apps. This isn’t necessarily a problem given it comes with a USB Type-A port anyway, though it’s installed in the rear – you also get a special cable in the box.
At a little over $300 or even lower if you’re lucky enough (given the shopping season is already here, there’s a chance you can find this head unit at a really great price), the 1500NEX offers a great mix of the essential feature package.
Of course, everybody would have loved wireless support for Android Auto and CarPlay, but let’s not forget this is a rather affordable device in the first place. It’s pretty clear Pioneer’s plan here was to compete against the budget offering from other competitors like Sony and Alpine, and at first glance, the 1500NEX is a very compelling product on this front.
Worth knowing is you’re not getting any built-in navigation solution on this head unit, though it goes without saying this isn’t necessarily a major problem anyway. Given you can always connect your mobile device, no matter if you use Android or iPhone, Android Auto and CarPlay can be used to run Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, or any other navigation app you may need.
Most of them are free anyway, so this is clearly a big benefit of a head unit that comes with support for Android Auto and CarPlay in the first place.