PROS / It offers free navigation.
CONS / It does not have Android Auto.
VERDICT / The Pioneer 5100 NEX is an excellent value for Apple users, but Android users can find the same benefits for less money in other units.
The Pioneer 5100 NEX is an affordable aftermarket navigation system with excellent Apple smartphone integration. It comes with maps of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. It also has a 6.2-inch resistive touchscreen.
The 5100 NEX comes with Apple CarPlay. CarPlay allows you to interact with select iPhone apps on the head unit's screen. Unlike the best in-dash navigation system, though, the 5100 NEX does not have Android Auto, which is the Android equivalent of CarPlay.
However, Android users can still connect to the 5100 NEX via Bluetooth or HDMI. HDMI connectivity allows you to mirror your smartphone screen on the head unit. You'll still have to navigate the smartphone interface using your phone's touchscreen, but everything on your phone screen will appear on the 5100 NEX's screen as well.
Its Bluetooth connection allows Android users to make and receive hands-free calls. Android users can also control Pandora internet radio directly from the head unit.
This in-dash navigation system comes with two features especially designed to please audiophiles: HD radio and the ability to play FLAC files. Many FM stations broadcast HD radio signals in conjunction with their standard-definition signals. FLAC files are high-fidelity music files that have superior audio quality to MP3s.
The 5100 NEX comes loaded with maps of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Its guidance uses the HERE database, which has 7.9 million points of interest. Unlike some competing models, the 5100 NEX lacks a built-in traffic receiver, so to check the congestion along your daily commute, you'll have to use your phone or a computer. The navigation screen also shows the speed limit of the road you're traveling on, which is especially useful when you travel to unfamiliar areas.
Its 6.2-inch resistive touchscreen is on par with some of the other cheaper models we reviewed. The display looks fine, but it is less responsive than a capacitive screen and a bit smaller than the 7-inch screens on some premium models.
For Apple users, the Pioneer 5100 NEX is the best value on the in-dash GPS market. Android users will also appreciate the possibilities facilitated by Bluetooth, but you can find a similar feature set for less money.