We stopped by the Kia booth at CES today to take a quick spin of the brand's new UVO (short for Your Voice) multimedia system. Although it may have the trusty Microsoft badge standing behind it, we walked away less than impressed with the preproduction edition.
UVO is totally unique compared to any Sync system, one Kia product specialist insisted. But that doesn't necessarily mean its DNA is bespoke. Compared to the early Sync unit, UVO has the advantage of a brightly lit touch TFT versus two lines of text. Screen sensitivity is quick and accurate thanks to its Field Effect ASIC electrodes, but voice recognition during our brief tests was on the tricky side.
More than once it failed to pick up our audible commands for stereo and phone control. At first, we thought the problem stemmed from the ambient noise created by the hordes of people walking past the UVO-equipped Sorento while the windows were down. Not really. UVO still managed to fumble multiple commands once the cabin was sealed. But once a phone book name was recognized, calling was relatively easy, with available options clearly displayed on UVO's display screen.
Connectivity was a completely different affair. Pairing a phone was a cinch. Simply click the appropriate tabs on screen, set a phone to pair mode, and off we went. There's also an integrated reverse camera function with all UVO-equipped U.S. market vehicles.
Music can be accessed via the usual iPod wired connection, streamed through Bluetooth, SiriusXM, AM/FM radio, and of course, CD. Users can rip 250 mp3s to an internal 1GB jukebox for tunes on the go.
That all said, it's important to remember that UVO is in its first iteration. And after a few more months of development prior to its summertime launch in the all new 2011 Kia Sorento, we're guessing the weaker points will be brought up to par.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but according to reps on hand, it'll likely be priced below the current navigation option. As it stands now, customers can only opt for either UVO or a higher end navigation package, not both. A system integrating the two is in the works with Microsoft, our sources said. Hopefully, we'll get another crack at UVO at the Detroit auto show next week.