At a regional-level media launch in Penang today, Clarion Malaysia introduced the highly-anticipated Android-powered Clarion AX1 car stereo. The audio specialist also kicked off its internet sales launch of the device, making available in 5 countries in the region — Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India.
Clarion Malaysia Managing Director T.K. Tan revealed in his opening speech, “We are marketing the first 3,000 units of the AX1 at a very special price – RM1,599 (SGD$650 / INR34,200 / IDR5,800,000). To find out more about Clarion AX1, please visit clarion.com.my/ax1.”
The recommended retail price of the Clarion AX1 is US$725. Online orders are open today from http://infogo.com, and order fulfillment begin in November. Subsequently, all authorized Clarion retailers will be offering the Clarion AX1 in November.
Previously known as the “Clarion Mirage” installed at OEM level in some car makes, the integrated device has been rebranded AX1 which represents “Android AX1.”, Clarion’s first retail Android-based product offering.
The device is 18-months in the making, and is certified safe for installation and operation according to international automotive standards. The custom user interface is specially designed to ensure safety while driving. It works intuitively like a smartphone interface with three homepages and six large, easy to navigate main application icons.
The Clarion AX1 features a 6.5-inch WVGA TFT LCD display with automotive grade capacitive multi touch panel. The device runs Android 2.3.7, optimized for automotive application and powered by an 800Mhz ARM Cortex A8 processor with 1GB of RAM.
The automotive grade head unit is reassuringly durable – able to withstand high/low temperatures and vibrations. The device has a built-in 25Wx4ch Digital Amplifier, 6-channel RCA output, internal and external mic support, HDMI output (720p) and rear camera input. It also comes with two USB ports, external SD card slot and AM-FM Radio with RDS.
More photos from the launch at Flickr.
It supports 1080p Full HD video playback, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (A2DP and AVRCP) audio/video streaming, and 2-zone/multi-Zone playback. Built-in is also Bluetooth Handsfree (HFP, PBAP) 3.0.
The Clarion AX1 is compatible with Android smartphones and is “Made for iPhone and iPod”, supporting audio/video playback and charging.
What is interesting is that the unit can also be setup as a WiFi access point and client/portable hotspot giving passengers internet connectivity. You will require a data plan supplied from a tethered smartphone or data dongle, separately. According to Georg Doll, a technical spokesperson from Wind River Systems Inc, future iterations will include support for USB dongles to provide data connectivity for Android-powered head units.
Wind River, a 100%-owned Intel subsidiary, is the technical partner of Clarion, developer of the embedded apps and framework behind the AX1. We spoke at lengths with Doll after the launch proper.
In terms of software, the AX1 features a built-in GPS navigation app with voice guidance; an internet browser that allows web surfing, email access and YouTube viewing; Infogo online music store with access to 22 million DRM free music tracks and image/video viewer.
Infogo is Clarion’s technical partner which operates a large online music store spanning Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India; providing ready content and an Asian internet sales outlet for the AX1.
Approved and safe software upgrades will be periodically available for download OTA through Infogo’s App Garage.
The AX1 is supported by Google but does not include a Google Play Store. There is a perfectly good reason for this. Apps need to be automotive-optimized and safe for automotive use. Technically though, a person with some technical knowledge should be able to sideload .apk files into the device, at their own risk of course.
Our first impressions of the device are very positive. With the AX1 you can literally turn any car into a connected car. With its rich features and intuitive user experience, the Clarion AX1 marks a shift in car systems and feature-rich one at that. Things can only evolve and become better. Clarion has generously supplied us with one unit, and we are eager to get this installed in one of cars and post a review. Hang tight while we do.
For more info, visit http://www.clarion.com.my/ax1. Order one of the first Android-driven car stereos on the planet now at http://www.infogo.com. Also find Clarion online here – www.youtube.com/ClarionMalaysia1010 www.facebook.com/clarion.ax1