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iPod Car Integration Reality Check at Apple Expo

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the how-can-a-jumprope-be-hi-fi? dept.


An anonymous reader writes "At the last Apple special event, Steve Jobs was almost bragging about the fact that 70% of new cars sold in the U.S. this year had (optional!) iPod 'integration' available ... Obviously, he didn't talk about the rest of the world. But most of all, what Steve didn't tell us is how crappy the existing "integration" solutions actually are! Here is a review of actual iPod car integration solutions showcased Apple Expo 2006 Paris. Some of the nicest cars (like the Audi TT for example) don't necessarily have the best iPod interfaces."

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Not terrible. (3, Informative)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190567)

I rather like the integration in my Scion tC. The iPod is hidden in the center console, while I control it from the head unit.

Re:Not terrible. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16190791)

Only 06+. 05's didn't have it.

Re:Not terrible. (3, Informative)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190859)

My sister just got a tC, and they did a fine job with the iPod integration. The interface was basically the same as an iPod. It was so intuitive for an iPod user, that only after I finished and had my music playing did I sit back and realize, "Damn, that's a nice setup." It's nice to see that at least one company realized that copying the excellent iPod design is the way to go.

Re:Not terrible. (1)

mayesje (88625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191877)

That's because this is a pioneer HU and most of the after-market HUs are actually a heck-of-a-lot better than the OEM crap.

Honda Music Link (4, Informative)

nuxx (10153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190583)

In case anyone is interested in Honda's solution, here is my review of the Honda Music Link iPod Adapter [] .

After being burned by the purchase of the Honda Music Link earlier in the year I wrote up that review to try and keep others from throwing away their money on it.

Re:Honda Music Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16190789)

Why spend so much extra money on integration when you can just stick a tape in that connects right to your ipod? Its only $20 and I'm telling you the sound quality isn't noticeably worse. Plus theres no extra interface involved.

Re:Honda Music Link (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190887)

Those sound terrible. They're inherently muddy because you can't get the head gap down to the point that you get any HF response no matter how you design it. The best you could to is design an EQ circuit to compensate, but nobody does that....

Re:Honda Music Link (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191147)

I agree.

I just fitted one yesterday. Bloody crap. Hissing, poor frequency response. Why we can't just have a low level 3.5mm jack socket... oh, cause then the garages wouldn't be able to charge £250 for fitting it. Silly me.

Re:Honda Music Link (2, Informative)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191463)

you can just stick a tape in that connects right to your ipod

New cars still come with tape players?

Re:Honda Music Link (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193787)

My 2k4 Infiniti G35 did. I didn't spring for the brand new one, but they had tape decks as well. It's Bose, so it sucks, but at least I can plug in my iPod without having to use an iTrip. Sirius is pretty nice too :)

It'll do until I decide to really rip the thing apart and put in a new receiver.

Re:Honda Music Link (1)

L7_ (645377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191725)

my problem isn't the sound quality, its that I *try* to use the 'Skip Forward' and 'Skip Back' commands that I use for CD track control to skip to the next track in the ipod playlist. What it does instead is Fast Forward or Rewind the tape interface in the deck! I have to eject the tape interface and reload it when I forget that I need to pick up the ipod and hit '>>|' on it to get to the next track in the playlist.

I would love it if I could make it so that my car controls could command the ipod.

Well.... (0)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192249)

"when you can just stick a tape in that connects right to your ipod?"

A tape in what? Tape players stopped being put in cars right around 2000. You can find them as options, but it's hardly worth it.

Plus, it's a pain to worry about turning off the iPod when you shut off the car, you can't charge the iPod, you have wires hanging over your dash. I'm not clear why somebody buys a $400 iPod (because of aesthetic and sound quality considerations), and then decides to hang wires all over the dash in pursuit of a lo-fi solution to save $150.

Re:Honda Music Link (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16194011)

...or if you're fussy about sound quality a CD player that recognises MP3 data CDs - around 60 quid in the UK, so maybe $100 US? It's got to be a better option than trying to shoehorn any sort of MP3 player into a car and then finding that all it tells you is "TR04" or similar. This assumes that you haven't bought into some scheme that stops you copying music off your player, though.

Re:Honda Music Link (1)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190961)

And I thank you for that - your review was instrumental in me not getting Music Link for my Accord.

Honda would have been better off just providing an AUX input in the glove compartment. How hard would that have been? They even managed to put an AUX on the front panel of the new Civics, for frak's sake.

Re:Honda Music Link (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191587)

bingo. i've got a AUX in hooked up to my zen and it works great. now if i could just get it mounted somewhere close to the deck, it would be perfect (i have it sitting in my cup holder now).

Steve Jobs Distorts Reality (1, Funny)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190623)

This is shocking - simply shocking, I must say!

VW +iPod = Lackluster Integration (5, Interesting)

natural1 (741392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190719)

My new 06 Rabbit has iPod integration...and it sucks. Only 6 playlists and you can't see any of the song info on the stereo, plus you can't access songs any way except to click through them one at a time. So much for the click-wheel. It would've been nice to have steering wheel mounted controls too... I know it's an entry level car, but c'mon - it's supposed to be German engineering! I guess the Germans don't like music?

Re:VW +iPod = Lackluster Integration (1)

famikon (994709) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190851)

c'mon - it's supposed to be German engineering! I guess the Germans don't like music?
its not that... they just listen to shitty, cheap music.

aaah it makes perfect sense now.

MINI +iPod = Lackluster Integration (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190967)

The MINI Cooper is the same way. I'm pretty sure all BMW products have the same 'integration' as well as your Rabbit.

Re:VW +iPod = Lackluster Integration (3, Funny)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190985)

I know it's an entry level car, but c'mon - it's supposed to be German engineering! I guess the Germans don't like music?

You're talking about a country that worships Hasselhoff's music, so they are clearly tone deaf. I hope it was a rhetorical question...

iPod (1)

puddpunk (629383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191635)

Get into my car!

Re:VW +iPod = Lackluster Integration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16191487)

Sounds like they mapped controls for a 6CD changer to working with an iPod, rather than designing something that actually works with an iPod. I wouldn't call it "integration", rather a back-end hack to claim iPod support even though they haven't changed the physical interface in the car from the old optional CD changer controls.

Re:VW +iPod = Lackluster Integration (4, Interesting)

larryj (84367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191907)

I have the same setup in my '06 Touareg. It has it's limitations (as the parent pointed out), but it's not too bad. I like that the iPod is hidden in the glove box, but don't like not being able to navigate to anything I want to listen to. I've learned to use my iTunes playlists more. I just rename my playlists to change what's available in the car. I prefix the 6 I want with the numbers 1 through 6. That forces them to the top of the playlist menu and makes those 6 available in the car.

I've also found that if you start playing something, pause it and then connect the iPod in the car, you can continue to listen to what was paused. It's not much, but it helps when you have a specific artist or album in mind while on the go.

I thought that the "on the go" playlist was going to save me. My plan was to just add stuff to the OTG list in an effort to gain more flexibility. Unfortunately the OTG playlist always becomes the last playlist on my 4th gen iPod. I even tried prefixing everything else with a 'z' but OTG is always at the bottom.

Nissan Integration works well. (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192277)

My 05 Murano does not have a specific kit from Nissan for it but I use the XTerra's kit.

It plugs into an extra coupling on the Satellite connection. From there it goes to a "magic box" which has a standard docking cable attachment.

My iPod charges and plays while hooked up. While the stereo controls are not intuitive, forum help was great, I can select ANY playlist I want. I can skip forward and back with the steering wheel controls and control the volume as well. To change playlist I have to use the far selection button on the Bose 6CD In-dash player. I can select playlist, artist, etc - just as if I were using the iPod directly. Selecting "Enter" is one of the buttons on the left. Scrolling between artists/playlists takes a second to response but can be done with the tuning nob.

Not the best but from it sounds like its far better than most setups. I get the full quality of playback as its sourced from the dock connector.

This works with or without the fancy Navigation screen. Non-navigation equipped Murano's have an Orange LED screen that displays text just fine.

One day they might even have a real unit for my specific model and year. I have not used the 6CD player since I hooked up the iPod. It cost around 190 and I got it from []

Re:VW +iPod = Lackluster Integration (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16193025)

They should have just connected the steering wheel directly to the clickwheel, with the indicators, windscreen wipers and horn for play/pause/forward/rewind and menu. They might have had to overcome some technical difficulties but I don't see any major problems with the idea.

Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (5, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190727)

I want the 5 minutes of my life back that I spent reading through that badly-written drivel. The only thing worse would have been the same stuff in an audio or video format. Ugh.

To save others from the same pain, here's a quick summary: the vast majority of iPod integrations work either by pretending the iPod is a CD changer, or by sending RDS (radio data stream, I think - it's the stuff that piggybacks song info onto the AM/FM signal) to the radio. Which means they all still suck. It's cumbersome to navigate stuff and you don't get the info you expect (songname, etc). We get promises that next year, everything will be better, but we heard all that stuff last year already.

In short, if you want to use your iPod in your car now, use your headset. And if you live in California, just hope the cops don't catch you.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (2)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191039)

If by headset you mean headphones, don't do it. Do not ever drive with headphones covering both ears. Even at an average volume you're far less likely to hear horns honking and emergency vehicles. I've seen the disasters that happen when people don't hear sirens. Do everyone on the road a favor and plug that iPod into your head unit or leave it at home.

doesn't matter... (1)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191889)

Deaf people drive all the time. They just learn to look out for flashing lights and to be careful.

Re:doesn't matter... (2, Insightful)

Rockenreno (573442) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192059)

That doesn't make it safe... Distractions should always be minimized when possible. Listening to the car stereo (so long as it is not at absurd volumes) still allows entry of more outside noise than if you were earing headphones (heaven forbid you have some working, noise-cancelling headphones). Personally, I like to hear what's going on with my car as well as the environment around it to a certain degree so that I can act when necessary.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16192447)

you know a law in california was just passed requiring us to wear headphones when using a cellphone?

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192743)

that is a headset.. not headphones.. one speaker not two. one ear covered not two.. it really makes a diffrence

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191069)

Why would anybody want to spend money on a feature for their car so that they could listen to music from a single brand of MP3 player? Wouldn't it make more sense to get a stereo with an audio input jack that could attach to any audio player? I mean, sure the controls aren't integrated, but you have controls on you MP3 player. Use those if you want to switch songs. Besides, you should be focused on driving, not trying to find the next song you want to listen to.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

admactanium (670209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191139)

Why would anybody want to spend money on a feature for their car so that they could listen to music from a single brand of MP3 player? Wouldn't it make more sense to get a stereo with an audio input jack that could attach to any audio player? I mean, sure the controls aren't integrated, but you have controls on you MP3 player. Use those if you want to switch songs. Besides, you should be focused on driving, not trying to find the next song you want to listen to.
because they have that brand of mp3 player? why wouldn't you get a car integration solution that did offer you controls from the headunit or steering wheel if you already own that music player? strange that you say people should be focused on driving yet encourage people to take a hand off the steering wheel to change the music on their tethered audio player.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (4, Insightful)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191905)

People take their hand off the steering wheel all that time, ever heard of something called "shifting geers"? Seriously, people make a big deal about taking your hands off the wheel, but that isn't what's dangerous, what's dangerous is focusing your attention elsewhere for any length of time. Those fancy iPod controls might be right on the steering wheel, yes, but if the system is combersomb and frusterating to operate, then it's going to be far more distracting and dangerous than "taking your hand off the wheel" to operate an interface you've used for years. None of the systems I've seen offer a "simpler" (meaning less pushing of buttons) interface than the iPod itself. And most car stereo buttons are no bigger than the buttons on a click wheel, not that button size really matters anyway.

It's myths like this that lead people to buy hands-free cellphone systems, even though they've been proven to be no safer than using a normal cellphone in the car. The only point to total car integration is that it feels snazy and looks pretty, although I'd say my homemade integration system (which uses the iPod for control) feels pretty snazy, maybe partly because I built it up myself.

Now, what's important is that the iPod is positioned in a static, secure place that doesn't require fumbling around for it (like trying to feel where you last put it on the passanger's seat). I've created a little mount for my iPod belt clip (a Vaja case) right on the top of the stereo head unit, that way it's always in the same place when I reach over for it, and it's no farther away than the stereo or temperature controls. I can quickly hit the forward and back buttons like I would on any car stereo, or if I'm at a stop light, I can quickly lift it off its mount (attatched with a modified rivet clip on the back of the case), and pull it right in front of me for more in depth control. In this case, I can choose my own level of involvement with the UI according to the particular driving situation.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16192087)

Americans are insane. Very few cars here are sold with manual gearboxes. Most are fully automatic, and the drivers have no idea when the car shifts gears, or why it might be useful to drop to a lower gear to pass on an expressway. They don't want to deal with the extra work. Of course, they're far more likely to have a cell phone in one hand and a bloody newspaper in the other (yes, I see this almost daily on freeways.) Or, a cigarette in one hand while putting makeup on in the visor mirror, or holding the bottle for a baby in the back seat with one hand, leaning far back to do it...

I guess that I'm agreeing with you -- it's just that USians don't bother with shifting gears -- they need their hands free for other things (not driving, but other things.)

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192195)

I'm not quite sure where you are refering to, "here"... do you live in the US or somewhere else? American drivers are pretty bad, and I hate the driving attitude in the US, although I've heard some statistics that most European countries have far worse accident rates, and that cell phone driving is even worse over there. No, Americans just eat in the car all the time (and everywhere else, for that matter).

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192825)

i have diven in the US and Europe.. US drivers are mainly distracted.. over seas people seem far more aware of their suroundings and on average seem better drivers. i have two cars one with an auto and the other with a manual.. it is sport shift so out of habbit i shift alot in the auto.. over seas most cars are manual in the US they are auto.. i feel that that has allowed us drivers to become way too easily distracted.... if they had to stop what they where doing every 1-2min to shift when driving to work (city) then i don't think they would do all the crap they do now in cars...

although i do wish i lived in a no fault state.. then i would buy a shity truck and hit all the ricers that are watching movies on the dash and talking on phones while laying down int he car instead of driving..

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

jbellis (142590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191307)

"I mean, sure the controls aren't integrated"

Do you actually drive a car? Integration is the *whole point*.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191391)

Why would anybody want to spend money on a feature for their car so that they could listen to music from a single brand of MP3 player?
Because the ipod does its job of being a music player very well. With the smart playlist feature, it does a good job of managing a playlist of songs that I want to hear. Also, there are many ways to integrate an ipod into my car's stereo, I haven't seen any other MP3 players that have as many options available as the ipod does.
I mean, sure the controls aren't integrated, but you have controls on you MP3 player. Use those if you want to switch songs. Besides, you should be focused on driving, not trying to find the next song you want to listen to.
Currently, I have over 1,000 songs on the main playlist that I listen to. Every now and then, a song will come up that I don't really care to listen to then. It's much more convenient and safe to reach up, and hit the "Next Track" button on the stereo, than it is to reach for the ipod that's bounced away from where I put it (I drive mostly on unpaved, rough roads), and try to change the track that way.

Also, I hate having wires strung around my car, so having the ipod integrated into the radio allows me to stash it away out of sight.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191435)

You can actually get some nice setups from Pioneer [] and other aftermarket places that work much better than the stock stereos. Most of the Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, Panasonics and what have you can have add-ons for them that let you control your iPod from the card remotes. They also have three line displays so it's almost like looking at your iPod interface.

I'm planning on getting one of these sets for CDs and iPoding in the car.

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (3, Informative)

Shadarr (11622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192319)

JVC has a couple of decks out with a USB port [] on the front. I have a friend with one, and he loves it. If you don't already own an iPod, why drop that kind of money just to listen to music in the car, when you can pick up a 1GB thumbdrive for $20?

Re:Can we at least get links to quality blogs? (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193283)

I have the alpine model with the 3 line display. The ipod integration is great. Being able to pull up songs from the HU by either playlist, artist, album, song is really nice. My only minor gripe is that skipping songs could be a bit faster. I want CD skip speed, but I'm not sure that's possible with a HD based ipod.

OOH (0)

PDubNYC (650812) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190839)

What a terrifically interesting topic for conversation. I am completely amazed that many of the offerings suck. And incredulous that Steve Jobs would crow about the percentage of cars available with iPod integration w/o mentioning that many of them suck.


Re:OOH (1)

Dargoth_Rejuv (1002142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190973)

Hey, they could always just not exist at all, then we'd have nothing to complain about, would we? The interfaces HAVE improved over time thus far, one could assume they will continue to get better.

Re:OOH (1)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191923)

You've got to remember this is Marketing.
Its a box he can tick - whether its a big tick or a little
one (or a wobbly upside down one) is irrelevant.

This is not, as some have claimed, the Jobs distortion
field. Any marketer I know would be crowing the same

Re:OOH (1)

PDubNYC (650812) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192071)

Maybe somehow I didn't pour on the sarcasm thick enough, but outside of a sarcasm beatdown stick, I don't know what more I could have done.

It could be worse... (2, Interesting)

The Dalex (996138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190847)

I'm busy looking for any good solution for my iPod and my 2000 Acura 3.2TL. The tape or FM adapters have poor, inconsistent quality, and my CD player stopped playing burned CDs (it seems to only like 640MB discs and I can't seem to find them anymore). Crutchfield says if I replace the CD player, my factory sub stops working. They have an iPod adapter that plugs into the CD Changer input on the factory stereo, but to install it, I need to remove my console and gearshift! So, in conclusion, any sort of direct-input auxiliary connection for an iPod is better than nothing, bad reviews aside. It could be worse!

Re:It could be worse... (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191987)

google "Blitzsafe". It's a very simple, generic cable that ties your iPod into the "CD Changer" port and charges your iPod as well. They have a number of different options according to the particular make and model of your stereo head unit (it works dozens of them, I hooked it into my '99 Camry). Then build yourself a custom mount, and you have the best iPod interface integrated right into your car: the iPod.

Re:It could be worse... (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193089)

I bought one of these [] to use my mp3 player (not an iPod) in my work vehicle, because it just has a tape-deck+radio which tends to get no reception on long drives out-of-town.

I was expecting static and/or a crappy signal (including shipping I think I paid $10CAD), but was pretty impressed with what I got for my money. My mp3 player doesn't play+charge by USB simultaneously, but if yours does you can also use the USB adaptor (or firewire on some models) to keep the thing powered up while you're on the road.

Not the best solution, but a pretty good value for the price.

Click/steering wheel? (4, Funny)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190849)

At least none of the control schemes have tried to introduce the dangerous fusion of the click and steering wheels...

"Honey, why are we driving in circles?"
"I wanted to listen to some Frank Zappa, but we're still in the L's"

Or, worse yet...

"Dammit, I can't change songs because there's a semi along side me!"

Use a real media system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16190925)

Why don't they simply use the touchscreen solution so many of my friends have done? They have a touch screen modded into their console, then have it hooked up to a nix laptop and can run a complete media center with it. Considering a lot of cars have LCD displays for whatever, would it really be that hard to put a little 'iPod' button on it to display the car's media center?

Re:Use a real media system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16192549)

Why don't they simply use the touchscreen solution so many of my friends have done? They have a touch screen modded into their console, ...

Because we don't live in the ghetto?

Two Words: Scion xB (1)

PaulMorel (962396) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190929)

The Scion xB is the best. It just has a line in to your stereo. Simple and effective, and I can attach any device I like (my iPod or my piece of $#%& iPaq).

Two more words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16191075)

Butt ugly.

I used to think the Aztek was an abomination, but wow.

What defines iPod integration? (1)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190937)

The article is loading very slowly so I haven't read it yet, but what constitutes iPod integration? I just ordered an '07 Mustang. It comes with a basic stereo input jack. I would prefer a really well done total iPod integration, but this still works well. The other benefit is that in 10 years if I'm not using an iPod (or the hookups change), it will still work perfectly with my car.

Re:What defines iPod integration? - Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16193955)

The other benefit is that in 10 years if I'm not using an iPod (or the hookups change), it will still work perfectly with my car.

Seems to me this is a hugely improtant point that might make iPOD integration totally irrelevant. I'm not sure, but none of the different iPODs I've checked out from different generations (okay they're all two generations apart, but still) have the same hookups (all kinds of weird mini firewire, thin and wide usb, connections). This means that any solution is completely non-future proof, ie. any bleeding edge, must have the newest, latest and greatest install will be locked at the present generation, and iPOD generation time is a lot faster than car lifetime. I guarantee you there will be another interface change in the next few years, the size of these things is getting to the point that to download all your TV and movies onto the suckers, there will have to be an update in the connection interface, and a change in connection format to prevent usse with legacy hardware (ahem, I means, to prevent confusion).

In dash iPOD interface, the 8-track player of the future.

Also, my new Prius has a simple stereo line in too. A simple, straightforward and relatively futureproof solution. I guarantee that either the same cables will be in use, or simple adaptors will be availible for at least twenty years (heck you can still get the big fat headphone jack adaptors)

Sick of forced imcompatibility for better brands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16190955)

why not use a standard USB connector, Steve? Instead of forcing on us all of your proprietary crap.

Re:Sick of forced imcompatibility for better brand (1)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191573)

There is no standard for media player integration, unless you consider the Dock Connector a de facto standard. If all you want is the sound, the iPod has a standard minijack connector and pins for line-out, but it's not "integration" if all you're getting is sound. There isn't a standard, USB or otherwise, for selecting playlists and all the other things that people want to do in their cars.

aftermarket receivers and iPod integration (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16190981)

My Pioneer DEH-6800MP's iPod integration works very well. The receiver has a wheel that works similar to the iPod's wheel. The reciever's remote would work fine except that it has no repeating or hold-down scroll, so it's useless unless you're near what you're looking for.

The default list gives me Genre, Artist, Song, and Album. Selecting Genre lets me choose the genre and then artists within the genre, so that's my preferred method of finding a given song.

The display shows two lines of song info; I leave it on song title/artist.

Revenge of the car-poor (2, Insightful)

Creosote (33182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191001)

Those of us driving old clunkers with cassette decks are snickering, as we can purchase low-cost cassette adapters for iPod or generic MP3 players that take about five seconds to install or remove and don't suffer from interference like the FM transmitters.

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (1)

Cahrin (1002520) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191261)

I've been using an FM transmitter every day of my commute since last Christmas, and have never experienced any interference. And, since I play my music at a reasonable level, I don't ever experience any noticable quality loss either. I don't know why FM transmitters get such a bad rap - They are easy and work well for their price. The only downside is having to use the click-wheel instead of integrated controls on the stearing wheel.

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16191383)

There isn't a free radio station on the dial that doesn't already have something on it causing interference (i live in chicago).
I've tried 4 different transmitters for the ipod, friends cassette deck adaptor doesn't have any problems.

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (1)

holden caufield (111364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191493)

You must not live in a major city, or at least ones with stations in the lowest part of the available FM frequencies.

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (1)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191901)

I solved that by disconnecting the jumper wire from the back of the stereo to the power antenna. That way, the antenna stays retracted and I get great reception from the FM transmitter sitting in the tray under the radio. (I have the parts to install a switch inline that does the same thing.) On rentals with standard antennas, I bring a small crescent wrench to remove the antenna and stash it under the seat.

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (1)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192019)

you have a radio with a poorly shielded antenna connection. my stock radio used to get decent reception (i live in a major metropolitan area) until i switched to an aftermarket stereo. now i get crappy reception whereever i am (tested in different areas). so my fm transmitter which i thought was the best thing since sliced bread is now garbage.

my next move? wire in a new connection directly to my amp to play my mp3 player. as long as the amp doesn't send 200+ watts to my mp3 player, we should be okay

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (1)

electronerdz (838825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191279)

I'm actually going to install my own RCA jacks under the stereo in my new Colorado so it will work with ANY MP3 player.

What is a Colorado? (1)

PDubNYC (650812) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192109)

Never heard of it. Durango?

Re:What is a Colorado? (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193379)


Re:Revenge of the car-poor (1)

NoStrings (622372) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192921)

That's similar to my solution for this. I have an '05 Dodge Caravan with a factory DVD player. The DVD player has RCA jacks on the front (I guess so you can hook up a game console). I opened the dash, pulled out the DVD player and soldered in another set of RCA jacks on the back. Then I found an empty spot on the dash and cut a hole for an iPod dock. I also wired power to the dock so the iPod would charge all the time. Once I had it all wired up, the car stereo just thinks it's a regular aux input. Since the iPod is mounted on the dash, I can easily use it's controls. It's a great set up, but it definitely wouldn't have been as easy without the aux jacks already there. I'm not looking forward to the lease ending on this vehicle.

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16191417)

Yeah, true. Too bad it sounds like your listening to a 32 kbit/s bitrate MP3 though.

Re:Revenge of the car-poor (1)

subsoniq (652203) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191747)

My 2005 Acura TL (with full sound system and navigation package) has both a 6 disc CD changer and a tape player, so I'm all set.

subaru (2, Insightful)

mjsottile77 (867906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191187)

I've complained plenty to Subaru about the lack of options for my Outback. Up until the '07 models, the only solution was the less-than-optimal FM transmitter or an aftermarket replacement for the factory stereo. Unfortunately, in the '07 model they gave it zero effort in "integration" - all we get is an AUX input plug. Sure, this has the benefit of not being iPod specific, but it requires that I have an additional piece of hardware between the iPod and the car to take unamplified (ie, not from the headphone jack) output from the iPod and to feed into the car. Otherwise I'll have the fun that I used to have with the cassette deck adapters where you have to find that nice balance of cd player/iPod volume and system volume. Subaru is near the bottom of the heap with respect to iPod or Satellite radio integration, relying on external units with FM or (now) a single AUX plug as connection. There are many other manufacturers who have done it much better than Subaru has in terms of getting the audio signal into the stereo, and integrating control of the radio/iPod into the car controls to reduce safety risks. For a daily long distance commuter, this is definitely impacting my next car purchase. It's really a shame that such a nice car on the driving end of things fails so miserable in features like this.

Re:subaru (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191677)

My parents had a Subaru wagon in the eighties. We upgraded it from AM to AM/FM. Good luck. Nice car though.

Re:subaru (1)

garinh (124389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191867)

For applicable Subaru models, the following adaptor is useful: roducts_id=28 []

I installed one in my 06' Outback, and it's wonderful. The "blank" CD for my Subaru doesn't even have an audible gap when going from the end to the beginning of the blank track -- it's an utterly seamless setup.

I use a simpler CD-changer adaptor for my Honda Civic, and although it wasn't trivial to install either, these kind of adaptors are well worth it -- they both give me flawless MP3 player integration.


Re:subaru (1)

zoomzit (860737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192107)

For a daily long distance commuter, this is definitely impacting my next car purchase.

I am amazed that you are letting the cost of a $180.00 part affect your decisions regarding a $25,000 car.

Just get an aftermarket stereo. Here's my recommendation: rodView.asp?g=266150&I=500CDE9852&search=alpine+cd e/ []
It's only $180. I can attest from personal experience that the 2006 model works quite well. The 2005 models, however, were plain horrific.

Re:subaru (1)

topham (32406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192655)

Let me know when you figure out how to install an aftermarket stereo into my Mazda 6 without making everything look like shit, or not work, etc. (2006 Model year by the way).

Re:subaru (1)

zoomzit (860737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193003)

I've installed my own stereos and I can say that installing aftermarket stereos correctly is stupidly simple to do. But I have heard of people running into electrical issues with aftermarket stereo installation.

I personally believe that this is more of a function of the quality of labor (i.e. 18 year old Best Buy employees earning $10/hr) than issues with the stereo or it's complexity.

As far as the look of aftermarket stereos, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Granted, I personally think they are all stupendously ugly, but that's my trade-off for quality iPod integration.

It is amazing how attractive iPods, HD Tv's and iMacs can appear, while auto electronics are still unforgivably ugly.

Re:subaru (1)

topham (32406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193211)

Take a look at the design of the Mazda 6 before you say it's easy to do.

First, unless you like Bose, you have to rip out everything.

Second, you need to keep the car working, which isn't easy since half the climate controls go through the stereo link.

Third: the console design leaves little room for a hack-job.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it is do-able. But in some cars, and it seems to be more and more common, it is being made more and more difficult.

Re:subaru (1)

zoomzit (860737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193405)

Ahh... I understand. I think the prius is this way too. It's a bit shitty of the manufacturer to not only not support mp3 integration, but also make it frustratingly difficult to change to a stereo that allows for integration.

You may want something like this IO_DASH_KIT_p_5251.html/ [] . I'm in no way supporting this product, as I just googled "mazda 6 aftermarket stereo" and that's what came up. Anyway, I'd think with something like this, and a decent looking aftermarket stereo, you might have a decent install. With the Alpine units, the ipod cable comes out of the back of the stereo, so I run my cable behind the dash, through the center console and into a center console storage bin. With this setup, the iPod is completely out of sight..which helps me avoid the "hack job" look.

Re:subaru (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193523)

It's very simple unless your car has components with non-standard shapes. I've done it twice; the first one, an old-ish minivan, was very easy and looked fine because the console was just a bunch of flat rectangles stacked on eachother anyway. The second, a more recent Ford Focus, wasn't exactly rocket science, but because of the shape of the console we had to take a hacksaw to the mounting kit and get a bit creative with some of the parts. And it sticks out like a sore thumb because the color is off, the face doesn't curve along with the rest of the dash, and the corners are completely squared off where the hole in the dash has rounded corners. We didn't care. We just wanted a cheap CD player.

I don't know what the situation is in these Mazdas, but I can see image-conscious folk balking at an hack job like my Focus. And the Mazda might even be worse, impairing the ability to get anything in there at all. Carmakers are really jazzing up those center consoles these days...

Theme Music (2, Funny)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191313)

We need some intelligent control mechanisms for song selection with the iPod/car integration. For example, if the control scheme detects rapid acceleration and braking, along with heavy steering, it starts playing something from Crazy Taxi. If we just get left hand turns, then start playing music from, I dunno, Days of Thunder maybe? If the traction control system detects lots of skidding, then music from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Also, we'll need some microphones in the car to listen for gunfire, in which case we have a much wider selection of music to chose from.

Remember, the point of this technology is to let you keep your hands on the wheel at all times - safer driving, you know.

Re:Theme Music (1)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192137)

Just so long as it's only one-way.

"I was doing fine, until it started playing some Crash Worship."

Alpine iPod (2, Informative)

TadMSTR (996071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191471)

I have an Alpine deck, forget which model off hand. Anyway it has an input for an ipod and you are able to control the ipod through the deck. Only down side is when you go to scroll through your music it always starts from the beginning. Its not like the ipod where it starts where you last were. Other than that it works great. It even displays the song info on the deck and you have a few different scroll/display options.

Aux-Pod? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16191477)

Has anyone tried and can they comment on the functionality of the Aux-Pod? I believe it's from PAC audio?

A bit disappointing, but... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191485)

I just ordered a new car stereo, after a couple idiots smashed my window and took off with my cruddy old one. One of the features is USB, another is iPod integration. I don't know if I'll get an iPod some day (when the prices drop considerably I might), but I picked out the model just in case I might.

This is about as welcome as buying a car and then getting home to see it feature prominently on the evening news for an urgent recall.

I'm quite happy with my homemade interface... (3, Insightful)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191583)

There is one option that he forgot to mention, when going over a final rundown of solutions to use: the generic, CD changer interface that doesn't try to read a specific playlist, and you simply control it with your iPod. Seriously, there is NO better interface to control an iPod than the iPod itself, and I'm sorry, but the difference between an interface display with a 10 point font and a 12 point font is really insignificant (especially when one you can hold right in front of you when operating it), so just use the fucking iPod itself.

What I've done, on my '99 Camry, was I bought a "Blitzsafe" iPod adaptor, which plugs into the generic CD Changer port behind the console. I then built a little custom mount, using a modified Vaja case "rivet clip", to be able to quickly pull the iPod in and out of the mount, and attatched it to the top of my dashboard. This way, the rivet clip itself, on my case, acts as the mounting bracket. I left enough cable so that I can pull the iPod up to my face (while at a traffic light, or during light traffic), and operate it normally. If I'm just switching tracks, I'll just use the clickwheel. I've never seen a simpler, more reliable, safer, and more user-friendly iPod integration system than this.

Basically, all I'm trying to say is that with a little research and some ingenuity, anyone can create something far better, and far cheaper than the ones shown here. Everyone has their own way of using their iPod: some people use playlists, others don't, some people put their iPod in a leather case, some put it in a clear rubber one, some (stupid people) don't put the iPod in any case and let it scratch to hell. From what I've noticed, is that most these iPod integration systems virtually require that you 1) use playlists (I don't) and 2) not have your iPod in a case. My suggestion, build your own out of generics if you have the time, then you can customize it to your own style of usage.

Re:I'm quite happy with my homemade interface... (1)

twitchingbug (701187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192405)

You're right, that AUX in is totally the way to go.

However, I do get by without a case and use this product [] . It's actually really really nice. The front doesn't scratch at all, and while the rear doesn't have full coverage, I don't mind so much about the back scratching. And it lets me pocket the iPod without having to deal with a large bulky case, and lets me use my FlexDock in my car to pop my iPod on. So not everyone's stupid who doesn't have a case...

Re:I'm quite happy with my homemade interface... (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192773)

yeah, that was probably a bit harsh. It's just annoying when I hear people complain about their iPod getting scratched up. Well, duh. I don't have any problem with people not using a case, just don't complain about it. You've taken measures to protect yours, which is all I was saying.

My thoughts were that most iPod cases come with a belt clip and many people are searching for a way to mount their iPod in the car... so why not just combine the two, and mount a loop or clip system on the dash of the car? It's been extremely convenient for me.

Audio Input is all I need (1)

BrianPan (786919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191585)

Sure spiffy integration would be great. But if 70% of cars just give me an audio line in, I'll be happy. Last car I bought and my last trip to the car radio section at Best Buy a couple of months ago this definitely wasn't the case.

only a few have high-quality iPod integration (2, Informative)

drmancini (712059) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191799)

I have spent quite some time evaluating the current situation of iPod integration capabilities of various car hifi products. And the result? Most manufacturers that brag about iPod compatible head units offer terrible capabilities, most of which were mentioned in other posts (lack of control, only a few (6-10) visible directories ...). This manufacturer shitlist includes names like Sony, Blaupunkt, Kenwood, Pioneer and VDO. According to a very good car hifi dealership in my neighborhood Alpine and Becker are two of the few that offer great quality of iPod integration (all data visible, freat control and integration ...)

Re:only a few have high-quality iPod integration (1)

FGizzard (99759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192419)

I recently installed an Alpine CDA-9857 into my '94 Camry, along with the Alpine iPod cable. Having tried (and returned) a Belkin FM transmitter, I found that the Alpine + iPod integration works great, with only a few minor complaints.

The only complaints I have about it are that it takes about 1-2 seconds to fetch the information of a song after you press previous or next, and that none of the various display options includes the time left counter, only the time elapsed.

Alpine actually has a very nice video of the unit in iPod operation here model=CDA-9857 []

Overall, I love the setup. Now if it only had a text-to-speech system while you navigated the menus...

Re:only a few have high-quality iPod integration (1)

zoomzit (860737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193223)

Agreed. I too have the Alpine unit, and it works very well, although there are a few glitches here and there.

I do have to say though, it's the 2006 Alpine models that have good iPod integration. The 2005 models were really hideous as far as integration goes.

I dont use an iPod, but... (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16191975)

My bypass jack into the amp board on my radio has yet to fail me while listening to my Zen Touch. Plus it costs less than a dollar.

Bad reporting (3, Informative)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192215)

The guy talks about the Dension unit as FM only and uses RDS. That may be true for the version he looked at, but Dension offers several models, most with full integration with the car bus for many cars. I have the iBus version and it sends information to the head unit about tracks, and offers a relatively decent interface using steering wheel controls already built into the car.

The sound is fine, since it goes directly from the connector on the iPod into the car stereo. It looks somewhat like a CD changer to the car, but that's only of consequence if you use playlists (I listen to full albums). You have full control over the iPod by scrolling through the album/artist lists and choosing an album or artist that suits you. Installation is relatively painless and allows you to manipulate the ipod fairly safely. I think it's the best interface out there. Another great use of this interface is that it charges your iPod as you play.

There are many other units; some are better than others. But this writer is blissfully unaware of the actual good interfaces that are out there.

And I agree with another poster here about the Honda interface. I paid almost $200 for it, and the interface is so awful on it that my wife refuses to use it. It's beyond bad. It stretches into that territory that is so comically bad that you have to wonder what product line manager looked at it and said "Oh, that's not so bad, we can ship".

Use the satellite radio interface not the CD one (4, Informative)

thule (9041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16192421)

Cars that have satellite radio interfaces in them can adapt better to iPods. Many iPod interfaces use the CD changer interface which does not have a way of sending back a track title. With the satellite interface the title *can* be sent back to the radio. This doesn't necessarily help the overall control of the iPod, but it will display something other than TR04.

For us people that want our SatRad *and* iPod there are interfaces that will allow easy switching between the iPod and the SatRad.

Just like everything else... (2, Insightful)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193033)

I think this is less a case of Apple doing a poor job, and rather the specific car manufacturer doing a bad implementation. In any case car companies are pretty happy updating their consoles with each revision... so even though it's an Audi which is supposed to be a nice car, and the console is currently unusable, it will be better in the next revision. (Cars often get system updates at services.)

Harmen/Kardon iDrive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16193051)

Has anyone else used an iDrive? It has to be the best iPod car solution I've seen. It runs a separate screen and click wheel wannabe while the iPod is tucked away in the centre console. It pauses the iPod when the car stops (so I can come back to the same point in a song when the car starts again - just like a real CD!) and plugs in through line in, so sounds terrific. I have been using mine for 6 months and am really happy with it.

iPod Hookup (3, Informative)

localman (111171) | more than 7 years ago | (#16193413)

I've hooked my iPod up with four different devices over the past couple years with aftermarket devices; the quality varies greatly. I skipped the FM and tape units as the sound quality isn't satisfactory. So these were all direct-in solutions, using the dock connector and the CD-changer hookup that most cars have today. The one that I most recently installed is called the DICE [] , and I'm really happy with it. Previous tries had problems with the iPod not always shutting down or starting up automatically when the car was turned on and off, and some of them would introduce odd noises now and again. But the DICE hasn't exhibited any of these problems, and also has some really cool extras like text display of the artist/song if your stereo does CD text, and steering wheel control while still allowing direct control with the iPod.

Anyways, that worked well for me!


And how! (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16194013)

I have a 2006 VW Passat. I love the car, but if I had known the the iPod integration was going to be as bad as it is, I wouldn't have bothered.

The iPod is, effectively, treated as a 6 disk analog CD changer, with the first five playlists (alphabetically) and the whole library comprising the virtual "disks." No track info is displayed, just numbers. And if a playlist (or the library) has more than 100 tracks, then you only get the track%100, which makes skipping around (which you do a track at a time with the FF/REW buttons) worthless.

It's enough to make me want to just burn CDs and use the CD changer. Thank God for XM!
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