Pioneer’s new tablet is an interesting solution for car audio, but how viable is another screen?
In the early 2000s, when Chinese products flooded the market, every car owner was running to the local mechanic to get a touch screen fitted in the car. Such was the craze, that even established brands had to come out with their touch screen onboard systems. However, with an explosion of screens the trend petered out. The phone was enough and an aux cable could meet most needs. The companies, however, never stopped innovating. Pioneer is now trying to make a tablet that’s accessible in the car. Earlier this year, it released SDA-835Tab, an Android tablet with features that allow it to be mounted in the car as a replacement for audio systems.
There is nothing novel about Pioneer’s design. On first looks, it’s a hefty device with an 8-inch 1280 x 800 IPS screen. It comes with an ARM quad core processor and a 4,000 mAh battery. Its bulkier than the usual tabs, which gives it more protection than a normal tab. The company claims that it can withstand heat and vibration better than any other tablet, but unfortunately it was difficult to test for those features. However, there was a crackling noise when the sides were pressed. Whether it was a one-off for this particular product that I received is difficult to determine.
The advantage with the tab however was that the bulky design meant that it could be mounted easily on the panel and I did not have to be concerned about the device much through my travel. The IPS screen also meant that it was not fragile and could endure some harsh conditions.
The best feature for Pioneer though was the EQ control. As a standalone device, it is a less than ordinary device— once attached to the mount it did well to allow 13 Band EQ control. The sound was rich and controls were easier than you would find on a regular tab. Google Maps worked perfectly without any glitch.
However, if you are planning to spend `33,000 on the device and mount, you would nitpick. And, there were some genuine concerns regarding tab performance. Given the low RAM, there were lags in performance and the screen wasn’t bright enough in certain circumstances. There was glare at times, which made looking at the screen difficult while driving. The main drawback, however, was the touch controls. For many of us who are accustomed to smooth interface of Apple or Samsung touch screens, Pioneer just didn’t perform up to the mark.
I tried using the device as a secondary screen, but the lags and slow responsive touch meant that the device could rarely be used as a secondary screen.
The tablet is good for people who rely exclusively on maps and have money to spend on a good audio system and do not wish to use the device as a secondary screen. Otherwise, I could see little utility to it. In a market that is still developing though, Pioneer may find takers for such devices, only when the price is right and the products have some basic level of development. I would rather be delighted if there was a way to attach my tablet to the computer panel and activate a driving mode.
Estimated street price: Rs 33,890