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iPod Car Integration Reality Check at Apple Expo 176

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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iPod Car Integration Reality Check at Apple Expo

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  • Not terrible. (Score:3, Informative)

    by riceboy50 ( 631755 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:26PM (#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.
  • Honda Music Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by nuxx ( 10153 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:26PM (#16190583) Homepage
    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.
  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:33PM (#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:Not terrible. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:36PM (#16190791)
    Only 06+. 05's didn't have it.
  • Re:Not terrible. (Score:4, Informative)

    by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:41PM (#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:Honda Music Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:15PM (#16191463)
    you can just stick a tape in that connects right to your ipod

    New cars still come with tape players?
  • Alpine iPod (Score:2, Informative)

    by TadMSTR ( 996071 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:15PM (#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.
  • by drmancini ( 712059 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:35PM (#16191799) Homepage
    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 ...)
  • Bad reporting (Score:4, Informative)

    by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:05PM (#16192215) Homepage
    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".
  • by Shadarr ( 11622 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:14PM (#16192319) Homepage
    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?
  • by thule ( 9041 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:20PM (#16192421) Homepage
    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.
  • iPod Hookup (Score:4, Informative)

    by localman ( 111171 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @07:49PM (#16193413) Homepage
    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!


Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.