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Monday, September 21, 2015

8-inch Apple CarPlay And 'AndroidLink' Head Unit Coming To The Aftermarket? [Video]

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are the two hottest commodities in the car entertainment business at the moment. There are quite a few options available to get the software in the car you already own. Aftermarket head units are available from the likes of Pioneer and Kenwood.

Currently available aftermarket head units range from $500 to $1000, give or take, but all of them are limited to a 7-inch touchscreen or lower. OEM systems in select vehicles are also generally around that size. But what if you wanted a larger touchscreen, say 8 inches, and full-fledged Android functionality?

You may be in luck. But there's a big catch! And there are pictures and a video too.

iCarTech VX8

A German car entertainment technology company called iCarTech, has started selling a brand new product called the iCarTech VX8, which features a larger 8-inch touchscreen and offers Apple CarPlay and 'AndroidLink' (not quite Android Auto - the first big catch!). The head unit is designed to work with Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat vehicles but, from the looks of it, could be installed in any vehicle.

The other Big Catch: The VX8 is available for sale only in Europe at the moment and there is no information available on whether it will ever be sold in the United States or elsewhere.

According to the iCarTech website, here are some of the features of the head unit...

Main Features

- Apple CarPlay and AndroidLink Integrated
- 8-inch multi-touch display with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels
- Quality tablet design with anti-glare sun protection
- Multi-language: English, German, French and Italian
- Live vehicle information: Speedometer, speed, acceleration
- Vehicle functions: Steering wheel control functions, parking and Air Display
- Connection for 360-degree all-around view camera system

Seems like a lot of features but after closer inspection it looks like an Android Tablet mounted in the dashboard that is also capable of doing Apple CarPlay.

AndroidLink is NOT Android Auto

According to a video demo available on iCarTech's website, the VX8 features AndroidLink. This is quite different from Android Auto in that you are not restricted to the Android Auto interface and limited apps, but get a full-fledged Android interface.

In the video, a Samsung Galaxy smartphone is connected which gets mirrored onto the VX8 with full touch functionality. You can do everything you could on your smartphone, like use the browser, navigate using Google Maps, play music, etc. Just like having your smartphone or an Android tablet mounted in your car, which is not always the safest.

Other Features

Other features like OBD connectivity, vehicle cameras, telephony etc. are also shown in the video. Rather than me trying to explain, maybe you should watch the video first...

Price & Availability

The iCarTech VX8 is priced at €889.00 which works out to about $1000 (That's a lot!). The price includes VAT and shipping and is only available in Europe. Looks like it is currently available to ship.

When you visit the website and try to purchase the head unit, it will ask you your vehicle information. Drop-down menus have supported Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat vehicles listed.

Installing in other vehicles

Although there is no way of confirming this at the moment, it looks like you could install the VX8 in any vehicle. There are somethings to keep in mind though. 

You will need a dash kit that supports the device for your particular car. iCarTech sells 8-inch car kits also, which is nice. They have support for many Chrysler, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and many other vehicles. Other accessories for the VX8 are also available through iCarTech.

Also, the 8-inch size is slightly bigger than traditional double-DIN head units so you will have to make sure there is enough room in your dashboard to accommodate the device. Seems like the manufacturer has some useful resources and support information available on its website if you have any questions.

Additional Pictures

Head on over to the iCarTech VX8 page for detailed specs, additional pictures and screenshots, accessories information and contact info. The page is listed in German by default but you can use the Google Translate option at the top to translate.

Source: iCarTech

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