Car Tech

Pioneer AVH-Z9250BT: Versatile in-car receiver without need for cables

Pioneer AVH-Z9250BT
Pioneer AVH-Z9250BT

There are many in-car AV receivers that let drivers use both their iPhones and Android phones - as well as supported apps - via the receiver's dashboard.

The Pioneer AVH-Z9250BT is one of them, but one-ups other receivers with its wireless feature, making it more convenient than most to use.

The flagship model of Pioneer's latest Z series in-car AV receivers, it has a 7-inch WVGA touchscreen display and supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the respective standards for connecting iOS and Android devices to in-car receivers.

I previously reviewed the Pioneer AVH-Z5050BT, which supports both standards through a wired connection.

With the AVH-Z9250BT, there is no more having to plug in a cable to your smartphone when driving.

My iPhone XS Max connected wirelessly to it in around two seconds after I started my car.

  • FOR

    •Supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

    •Responsive touchscreen

    •Wireless mirroring for Android smartphones

    •Supports the car's existing reverse camera

    AGAINST

    •No two-phone connection support

    •Wireless mirroring not available for iOS devices

    SPECS

    PRICE: $1,199

    HEAD UNIT SIZE: Double DIN (Deutsches Institut fur Normung)

    DISPLAY: 7 inches

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB

    RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Samsung Galaxy Note9 I had on hand took longer - around 12 seconds - to connect wirelessly. It also failed to connect on a few occasions, though this was not an issue if the connection is a wired one.

The AVH-Z9250BT comes with a wireless mirroring feature (works only with Android phones), so you can cast your favourite TV shows on its display for your front-seat passenger to watch.

I tried the feature with the Note9 and it worked perfectly. You can tap the Note9's apps on the AVH-Z9250BT's display like you do on the phone. I even tried playing games like Robot Wars - when I am not driving, of course - and the gameplay was not laggy.

But I think you would be using either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto with the AVH-Z9250BT most of the time.

Both standards are great in delivering the smartphone features to the display, allowing you to access the respective voice assistants of both camps, to ask for the weather or directions to a destination, for instance.

Using the 7-inch display to show the map and route directions really helps in getting to your destinations, as it is far easier than squinting at your smartphone's display, and thus allowing you to drive more safely. This is probably the biggest plus in having the AVH-Z9250BT.

Furthermore, its display is very responsive to swipes and taps. It is easy to tap through the user interface regardless of the standard you are using.

The CarPlay's interface looks similar to the iPhone's interface, with large icons taking up most of the display. It supports third-party apps like Waze, Deezer, Spotify and, most importantly, Google Maps.

In the latest Apple CarPlay, Google Maps will work like Apple Maps with voice guidance. So you have the best of both maps if you have an iPhone.

For Android Auto, the interface is more minimal with feweroptions andsupported apps.

Thankfully, Waze is supported and I could play music with the Apple Music app.

Strangely for a flagship model, the AVH-Z9250BT does not support the two-phone connection feature, unlike some models in the Z series.

This feature allows you to connect two smartphones and you can receive an incoming call from either without requiring a manual switch. This feature would have been handy if you have a business phone and a personal phone connected.

Still, if your in-car multimedia AV receiver does not come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the Pioneer AVH-Z9250BT is a good upgrade.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2019, with the headline 'Versatile in-car receiver without need for cables'. Print Edition | Subscribe