This is the era of full touchscreen car infotainment modules. All expensive and luxury cars come with one as standard. However, the more affordable vehicles only have these as options or installed in the top-end variant.
If your car does not come with a system installed or your old system is ready to go in the bin then I would recommend that you go in for a touchscreen infotainment system that can offer a lot more than just the radio. These days, infotainment systems can act as your satellite navigation system, a video player to keep the passengers occupied when you drive and much more.
Getting a touchscreen infotainment system seems too big of a commitment, as people have reservations about its price and its longevity. But after getting one you do not want to let go of the convenience it brings.
Pioneer recently came up with a new detachable system called Pioneer SDA-835TAB, which is your infotainment system in the car and an Android tablet when you are not in it. It is priced at Rs 32,000 online for the whole bundle (SPH-T20BT receiver and the SDA-835TAB unit). It can be found for around Rs 30,000 in the offline market. At this price getting a double din touchscreen infotainment system from a brand like Pioneer is a bit difficult and the market does not have many competitors.
Pioneer SDA-835TAB review
I had got the Pioneer SDA-835TAB along with its SPH-T20BT hub for review purposes in-between the lockdown. I had to travel during the weekends and during the weekdays I just took out the tablet to watch a video or two at home when free. And even when I left the tablet at home due to my forgetfulness, I could simply connect my phone’s Bluetooth and rock to my tunes during the ride.
This was a fun unit to have in my car, with the installation process being very easy. It just required the technician to open the dash to take out the existing unit and install this by just connecting a single wire connecter. The tablet unit is basically a rebranded Android tablet inserted into a custom case that helps it connect to the hub. The casing is built out of plastic but feels quite sturdy.
Interestingly, while at home I could use it as an ordinary Android tablet and not go through the custom UI’s which are difficult to navigate sometimes. There is a custom skin on top of Android, however, rather than complicating things it focused on providing a good visual experience while using the device (like a custom player for playing music).
My car is fitted with four-door panel speakers along with a Pioneer bass tube on the back. All of these units were directly connected with the SPH-T20BT hub, due to which I did not seem to get any sort of latency or issues with music playback. While playing videos I could see that the video was correctly in-sync with the speaker output.
The sound output was good with the preset bass, treble and voice levels. However, the tablet had a lot of other presets save on it, which did change the tuning of the music according to the listener’s preferences. I personally listen to bass-heavy songs, so I went into the custom music player settings and changed a few of the settings, driving up the bass to maximum, due to which the output was completely different than it was before. The software-based customisations are very high in this one, which I feel is a good thing.
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When I took the tablet home to connect with my home unit, I could use the same level of customisations with the system. This provided me with a similar custom music experience I had with the product in my car.
The touch interface was extremely intuitive and I was easily able to load Google Maps and play my music with a few single taps. Though getting Google Maps to work required me to give the tablet a hotspot from my mobile device. An issue that I faced while using the tablet was that it did hang at times after being loaded to the brim with apps, which could be due to the low amount of RAM and an underpowered processor that the device comes with.
During my time with the device, I used it in Delhi’s hot weather, leaving the unit plugged in the car under the direct heat of the sun. And it impressed me a lot with the screen being completely normal and showing up at full brightness when the car was started. In usual cases when you leave your phone in your car in such situations, it would go dark on you, you will have to let it cool back down to show some sign of life.
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I tested out the device for high-speed vibrations, and have to say the product did not creak even a bit at speeds of near about 100kmph. The unit held on and didn’t fall out and high-speed cuts or while going over the Indian road bumps.
Connecting to a reverse camera unit did bring up the camera feed on the display. However, most of the times that was after I had completely backed out of my driveway.
Overall, the device is a purchase that you will not regret and is one of the actual options that I am considering for my car as of now. However, there are more affordable models out there in the market which you should consider before taking a final call.
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