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Choosing A New Head Unit


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ok, my old ERR3-producing OEM head unit is now in lots of bits. But at least I got my CDs back out of it ! :lol:

I need to sort out a new head unit. Just starting to think about what sort of thing I might want and have been looking around to get some ideas.

I think a single DIN CD unit will do me fine. I don't really need DVD capability, as long as I've got CDs and a radio I should be fine. I don't have an iPod but I guess compatibility would be useful for if I get one at some point in the future.

The ones I was looking at all seem to say they're compatible with iPods back to the previous generation, but not the latest ones. Is this usual, e.g. you have to get a 2009 model head unit to work with the newest iPods ? Or is there normally some sort of update to make these head units work with the latest iPods ? Obviously if I don't have an iPod yet but I got one later on, then it's not likely to be an older model.

Bluetooth would probably be useful too but I don't totally understand it. I've got Bluetooth on my phone, and I understand the concept of it linking with the head unit. But what about a microphone, most of them don't seem to include one ? Is this something you also add or am I missing something ?

Also, what is needed to make it totally hands-free legal ? Do I just need a fixed cradle along with Bluetooth capability ?

I've already ordered a fascia and amp bypass lead (I have a Sport model IS200) off eBay.

I'm not planning on changing the speakers or adding a sub-woofer, will just stick with the OEM speaker setup.

Any other obvious things that I should perhaps be thinking about ?

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Regarding iPod compatibility I think it's to do with the way they provide power over the iPod connector.

The old iPods used to use the firewire pins for power - and the very recent models, ie Iphone 3G & iPod Touch 2G had these connections removed and charge only via the USB pins.

A lot of people never notice the difference as it's the same connector and the majority of iPods charge fine with these - but only the new ones don't charge - but in my experience with accessories they do actually still play music down the connector.

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Regarding iPod compatibility I think it's to do with the way they provide power over the iPod connector.

ok, that's interesting, thanks. You would think that they could "fix" that by just providing a different iPod attachment cable for existing head units though. So does that mean that pretty much no head units at the moment work with the latest iPods ?

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To be honest mate I have no idea but that's what I've experienced with other third party adaptors / docking systems etc.

There was a big to do about it all when the third parties realised that they'd have to produce all new accessories!

Also another thing to be careful of is that the older ones will trigger a message when connected to an Iphone for example saying that it's not compatible - a lot of people stop at this point and walk away to buy new accessories - but what it's saying is that you need to turn on airplane mode - basically to stop interference etc. You can just say no and carry on using both the phone and the accessory :)

I do half wonder if it comes up with that if it just doesn't see power to the USB pins and it's all a dodgy ploy!

This docking thing I just got, for example pops up that message about not being compatible but just say no to that and it works fine - also the remote control for it works fully, menu control and allsorts :)

I can't be 100% of this on the car side mate but it might be worth checking out - what iPod will you be using as if it is the newer one it may be worth just asking on the sly at Halfords and seeing what happens when you connect it - ie does it charge etc.

If it is just the power pins there is no reason technically I guess they couldn't just do the same sort of trick as a crossover Ethernet cable and just swap the power feed from the firewire to the USB pins - I did read somewhere that the very old accessories could provide up to 30V on the firewire port - whereas USB is just 5V - so that could also be a reason why they don't just swap the pins across?

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I can't be 100% of this on the car side mate but it might be worth checking out - what iPod will you be using as if it is the newer one it may be worth just asking on the sly at Halfords and seeing what happens when you connect it - ie does it charge etc.

I haven't got one at the moment, I was just wondering what position I'd be in if, say, I bought one in 6 months' time. At that stage I imagine it would be one of the latest ones I'd get, since the older ones would have all gone.

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Right I'm with you mate - in that case it probably would be worth getting a headunit that will power the latest devices otherwise it's be pot luck, especially with it being Macworld as maybe they'll announce a refresh over the next few days of the iPod line, if not I'm sure they'll be changing something within the next 6 months as they love to tinker!

..:: Edit ::..

Actually just had a nosey at what's expected for the Macworld announcement and didn't spot anything regarding iPods so probably not much coming out in todays presentation (starts at 5pm our time I believe)

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Nice looking Head Unit John :D

Slight problem with latest iPods by the looks of it according to this info from the web,

however Pioneer would be the people to ask regarding this.

iPod Compatibility FH-P80BT

Requires additional CAS-IPOD-CABLE

Battery charging Yes, on all generations from September 2005 - September 2007

List Browsing Yes, on all generations from September 2005 - September 2007

Music Playback Yes, on all generations from September 2005 - September 2007

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Nice looking Head Unit John :D

Slight problem with latest iPods by the looks of it according to this info from the web,

however Pioneer would be the people to ask regarding this.

iPod Compatibility FH-P80BT

Requires additional CAS-IPOD-CABLE

Battery charging Yes, on all generations from September 2005 - September 2007

List Browsing Yes, on all generations from September 2005 - September 2007

Music Playback Yes, on all generations from September 2005 - September 2007

The additional cable required for the pioneer, is the standard usb cable that comes with the ipod, so you dont have to buy one.

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a proper phone cradle (plus it would be useful to have an inbuilt charger for the phone ?), then

either a Bluetooth Head Unit (with remote mic) or Bluetooth earpiece.

One thing I wasn't sure about is that a mic isn't mentioned with most of these. Just downloaded the installation manual for the double-DIN Pioneer and it looks like it does come with one. I do like that Pioneer the more I look at it, seems like a good price too (around £220 or a bit less including VAT).

I guess if any iPod charges via a USB connection then it should be able to connect into the USB port at the back and charge. And presumably also play too ? Though I don't know if the iPod-specific functionality (i.e. controlling it from the head unit I presume ?) needs specific support.

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Steve my Pioneer single DIN has Bluetooth for my mobile. Yes you get a mic (which I ran up the side of the A post and it sits there quite nicely), the whole system works great, fads out the music, voice then comes through the speakers. Download your phonebook via B/tooth to the head unit so the name comes up when called etc.

Keith

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