Disclaimer: I am a computer scientist and also an unapologetic geek, meaning that I have the necessary computing background and I just love to hack computing systems. Please keep this in mind throughout the review.
Out of the box the Asteroid Smart is a good media player and navigation head unit. The included Music app features a good tuner and a good media player. The audio FX adjustments are intuitive and effective. The sound quality is very good. The included iGO software is nothing to write home about but ultimately does its job. TomTom is available on the Asteroid Market as a paid app and is supposed to be much better (though I have not tried it). Torque is also available on the Asteroid market and works very well. Other than this the Asteroid Market offers a very limited choice of apps. Pairing a mobile phone works as it should and enables the usual goodies such as tethered Internet access and hands free calling.
Most of these features however can be had at a lower cost. The Asteroid Smart should be better than this, as it is after all a full-blown computer (which is what attracted me in the first place), and indeed it is. Here are the steps to make it awesome:
1. Ground the parking brake lead.
2. Root the device.
3. Side load Google Service Framework and Google Play.
4. Use Google Play to install almost any app you desire.
I strongly believe that this is how this head unit is meant to be used. It is pointless to have a computer and use it as a simple head unit! The rest of my review will therefore address the unit after the above steps have been performed.
Most apps on Google Play and other markets install and run just fine. One notable exception is Google Maps (the current Google Play version does not run on Android 2.3), but I side-loaded an older version which works fine. I am by now happy as a pig in a pig stye running various apps including Google Maps and Osmand (navigation), the stock player, Poweramp, Subsonic, and Tunein Radio (music), Torque (real-time and diagnostic vehicle data), Acar (maintenance management and assorted vehicle information), Oi Notepad (jotting down quick notes by keyboard or verbally), as well as assorted tools including Calculator, Unit converter, and my favourite launcher (ssFlicker). I have yet to try alternate launchers and live papers (the latter requires yet another side-load), but both are possible.
In all this is a full blown Android device and is very good at it. Given its location (in a vehicle) it is somehow awkward to connect to it via ADB but an SSH server will serve such a purpose equally well.
The unit is somehow slow but is very robust and perfectly usable. The two biggest downsides are the limited amount of RAM (only 512 MB) and the dated operating system (Android 2.3), though so far most apps are quite happy with both.
I already mentioned that iGO comes bundled with the unit. It is not the greatest navigation app, but it adds some value to the package. Except that said added value disappears as soon as one runs out of space on the included, tiny 8 GB SD card. Indeed, iGO is linked to the supplied SD card, and becomes unusable once this card is replaced. Oh well, is is not that much of a loss for me, as I am happier with 64 GB worth of SD card than the iGO app.
I would love to have a unit with 1 GB of RAM or more and running Android 4.*. Problem is, such a unit does not exist! This is so far the only purely Android head unit. I highly recommend such an awesome device; a class of its own indeed.
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