Vehicle GPS and music systems have gotten consistently more advanced, but some people have wondered whether it's really worth it to develop a whole machine that essentially replicates a smartphone. Clarion, which has previously developed systems like the Mirage Android-powered stereo, appears to be at least giving some thought to this with its latest effort: a portable dashboard that connects to an iPhone, letting the user play music, send email, and check traffic conditions among other things.
The Next Gate, which will be available June 1st for a suggested retail of $269.99, mounts to a vehicle and acts as an infotainment system with stronger-than-usual smartphone integration. It looks to have the usual bevy of traffic and radio apps, including Pandora and TuneIn, but it also uses Vlingo's speech-to-text tools to let users control the iPhone and send emails, text messages, or social network updates hands-free. It includes a 7-inch LCD touchscreen and a built-in microphone, as well as a microSD slot and hands-free Bluetooth capabilities. We'd need to see how well the implementation worked before recommending this, but it's one of the better infotainment ideas we've seen.