has been one of the early sensations at CES
. It drew such at crowd at the CES Unveiled event that we could barely get near it. This morning, though, we swung by the Parrot booth, and spent some time poking and prodding the in-dash device. The big news about the Asteroid is that it runs Android
. It's not just a car stereo; it's a Web-enabled, app-running mini-computer with a GPS receiver and the ability to be hooked up to a 3G modem. While the Asteroid is certainly impressive and loaded with potential, there are still some kinks to work out -- not just in the software, but in the device's ecosystem, as well -- before the Asteroid qualifies as a truly mind-blowing device. There is no access to the Android Market, as you could probably guess. Instead, apps must be built for the Asteroid, although Parrot has yet to make the SDK available. There's also the issue of voice recognition, specifically that it only works for playing back songs on your iPhone or iPod. There's no voice search for points of interest or even text-to-voice directions from the included Google Maps (which the company simply renamed Parrot Maps).
That being said, it is an impressive marriage of tech trends. While having things like a 3G radio and GPS actually built into the in-dash device would be nice, we can certainly appreciate the modularity of the system. The Asteroid will ship with a GPS receiver, but it comes in the form of a USB puck. Additional USB ports can connect to practically any USB 3G modem as well as an iPod
for playing back media. You can also load songs from USB drives and SD cards, although you'll have to take the face off to access the SD card slot. For wireless fans, music can be streamed to the Asteroid via Bluetooth. Parrot couldn't tell us how much the unit would cost or when exactly it would ship in the U.S., only saying that it would be in the second quarter. We just hope that, when it does finally launch, it'll be reasonably affordable and have access to some U.S.-based music services like Pandora -- the biggest omission from the Asteroid app lineup. Check out the gallery below for some hands-on.