Car Audio at CES is like a show within a show. Not only do you get to check out the latest in-car gadget tech, you get to see all the latest tricked-out rides the vendors bring to show it off in. Audio, of course, is an expected category at a big electronics show, but the latest in-car equipment not only pumps out your jams, but manages your device so you can keep your eyes on the road.
Each vendor had multiple tricked-out rides at the show, each with as much car audio technology (and video, too) stuffed into them as you can imagine. The Sony booth had at least 3 awesome vehicles with custom stereo installations that would blow your mind. The Cadillac was probably my favorite, featuring a payload of amps and even a full flat screen mounted on the tail. The sound started in your shoes, and continued up through the top of your head as you approached.
Sony has several stereo systems with ready integration with iPod touch or iPhone, and a few that actually become your smartphone (XAV-601BT and XAV-701HD). Even a system that loads your device like a CD: A tray that swivels back into the unit grabs your device after you connect it. Uh, wow...seen it before but still cool!
The Panasonic booth similarly had several cool-as-heck vehicles on display. Much of the system focus is on their new MIXTRAX technology, which basically puts a DJ in the car (or wherever you go). Combined with AppRadio, Panasonic's new in-car smartphone integration, your music collection and internet music services are analyzed for music, beat, transitions and mood, creating a customized music playlist experience for you.
Even a Smart Car, customized by Memphis Car Audio, made some noise at CES. Would have been nice to have one of these to get back and forth to the parking lot...