Tune Tray car stereo parks a music player, but falls short

Someday, smartphones, music players and portable GPS devices will gracefully interface with car audio systems. Sony takes a step in that direction by expanding its Xplod Tune Tray car stereo line. Its coolest feature is a little porch where you can park your iPod or any music player that uses USB. This is the closest we've seen yet to letting you plug an iPhone into your car.

Sony's announced two new models that follow its as-yet-unreleased first version of Tune Tray, the $150 DSX-S100 the company teased us with at CES 2010. Yes, that was nearly 5 months ago, and it's still not shipping. The DSX-S200X ($200, shipping in September) adds an additional USB port for some reason, and the DSX-S300BT ($280, also reportedly shipping in September) has Bluetooth wireless for hands-free calling and A2DP music streaming. All cool.

But damn you, Sony. Five months is too long of a time between announcing a product and actually shipping it. And, like a lot of your products, there's a great idea wrapped up in dopey decisions that sometimes border on ironic. In this case, the two new models add unnecessary features while omitting basic capabilities. For instance, why is there no CD player on any of these Tune Tray models? Why can't we plug in an iPhone and see its video output on a big screen, and audio playing through the car stereo speakers?

Imagine the ability to instantly insert any GPS-equipped smartphone into a slot in your car, and immediately see and hear, for example, its turn-by-turn directions. Why is there no such animal yet? Am I missing something?