Sony's first smartphonefriendly MirrorLink incar AV hits European roads, iOS and Symbian get to ride first

Sony outlined a grand future of smartphone-aware MirrorLink AV units back at CES, and the first example of the in-car media system is shipping right in line with the spring target. Although it's the more modest of the two we saw back in Las Vegas, the XAV-601BT aims to be the heart of anything mobile attached to your car with a 6.1-inch touchscreen and two USB ports to take advantage of your phone's music, navigation and other apps in a custom interface while another device charges on the side. Just don't expect Sony's stake in Android to have much bearing: at first, only more recent Symbian phones will have "guaranteed" MirrorLink support at first, with Android and possibly other platforms coming later. Even so, iPhone and iPod touch users still get into the party earlier through a Passenger App Control platform that lets certain iOS apps interact with or play videos through the head-end. Europeans should get a crack at the XAV-601BT before the end of the month, although we suspect Sony will want to wait for more phone support before bringing MirrorLink to less-than-Nokia-friendly American shores. More details await after the break.

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Connect and drive with first MirrorLink™ compatible AV Centre head unit from Sony

XAV-601BT lets you enjoy smartphone content, apps and calls in safety

* AV Centre head unit with smartphone connectivity
* Dual USB for simultaneous connection of phone and MP3 player/flash memory
* Future-proofed with firmware upgrades for compatibility with growing range of apps and smartphones
* Intuitive operation with 15.5cm (6.1") touchscreen and 3D-style graphic interface
* High quality sound and picture quality

Now you can control and enjoy music, navigation and other smartphone apps safely while on the move. With the first MirrorLink™ compatible in-car AV centre head unit from Sony, you're always in touch with your digital world while you're behind the wheel.

Just connect your MirrorLink™ certified1 smartphone to the XAV-601BT and you're ready for the road. As well as making and receiving calls safely, it's easy to interact with your phone's media collection and compatible apps while your smartphone's battery charges via USB. You can even get directions and interact via the large 15.5cm (6.1") touchpanel with your phone's built-in navigation app (NB: supported functions depend on capabilities of connected smartphone).

From launch, the XAV-601BT offers guaranteed MirrorLink™ compatibility with these Symbian smartphones2: Nokia 701, 700, 603, N8, E7, C7, X7, C6-01. The head unit is future-proofed with simple firmware updates to add compatibility with more apps and a growing range of smartphones from other manufacturers.

You don't even have to be driver to enjoy all the fun. Passenger App Control3 lets travel companions view videos and interact with apps from their connected iPhone® and iPod Touch® on the head unit's touchscreen. (NB: iPod video playback requires optional cable).

Dual USB ports allow simultaneous connection of two portable devices. Make calls and use your smartphone's navigation app, while browsing album artwork and playlists on your iPod/iPhone or Walkman® or listening to tracks stored on USB flash memory.

Music searches, control of linked devices and other functions are a pleasure via the touchscreen's speedy, responsive '3D-style' interface. Choose your background wallpaper image, or select from a choice of six eye-grabbing visualisations that bring music playback to life.

Audio/video quality of the XAV-601BT is everything you'd expect from Sony's range-topping AV Centre head unit. You'll enjoy detail-packed DVD video playback, plus a clear view of playlists and album artwork on the large 15.5cm (6.1") WVGA touchscreen.

Pristine video is teamed with unmatched in-car sound. Immerse yourself in the emotion of a live concert with 4.1 multi-channel surround sound plus a virtual centre speaker. Sony's unique Advanced Sound Engine lets you fine-tune each performance with a wide palette of sonic refinements to suit your mood and your music collection. Unique to Sony, radio reception is enhanced by a Digital Clarity Tuner that improves stereo channel separation and sound quality if you're driving in areas with weak FM signal coverage.

Naturally the XAV-601BT supports Bluetooth® for safe hands-free calls from your phone, and wireless music streaming from your Walkman® or Bluetooth®-enabled MP3 player.

For additional peace of mind, the XAV-601BT features a removable front panel that detaches in an instant for improved anti-theft security while you're away from the vehicle.

About MirrorLink™

MirrorLink™ is a technology standard developed by the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) that unites many of the world's major electronics, automotive and mobile communications companies.

With MirrorLink™, drivers can safely access many of their smartphone's capabilities from behind the wheel, without looking at or touching the phone itself.

MirrorLink™ seamlessly connects your phone with your vehicle's information and entertainment system. Approved applications and content are 'mirrored' from the mobile device onto the display of your in-dash head unit. This connectivity allows you to interact safely with your smartphone via the car's head unit display, steering wheel buttons and audio system.

The new XAV-601BT in-car AV Centre with MirrorLink™ compatibility by Sony is available in Europe from June 2012.

1 MirrorLink™ was developed in cooperation with CCC and paves the way for standardised interface between smartphones and automotive information system. It is projected that certified smartphone compatibility will be expanded rapidly by various smartphone manufacturers.

2 With Nokia Symbian models, the default launch app depends on parking brake status of the car. Nokia Car Mode will be the default when the vehicle is in motion. The phone's own home app will be accessible while the vehicle is parked. Please contact your local Nokia support for more information about the apps. Please set the USB Connectivity option on your Symbian device to 'Ovi Suite' for the best experience.

3 Compatible App for Passenger App control is limited.