So a while back the tape deck in our Jetta expired. We were using a cassette adaptor to play our iPods in the car. As a quick fix, we got a radio transmitter, but the poor quality and radio interference was intolerable. Considered getting another tape deck or stereo with a 1/4" audio input, but found that they now finally have iPod ready car stereos available for regular people (The last time i inquired about these, about 5 years ago or so, they looked at me like i had two heads, and then a little later they became available as manufacturer-installed options on high end cars).
So, we got one. It was the lowest end Pioneer model at Lee's Electronics. Got a decent deal because Lee always gives you a deal and it was the store model. Lee said that the higher end models were basically no different except for having funky screensavers (which, looking back on it, i should have inquired about more closely as they may have resolved some of my issues).
- The sound quality is awesome. Awesome. It's supposedly got some kind of compensator that restores the quality of compressed files. And despite the fact that we've got what i thought were crappy speakers, the sound is just amazing. Actually, i have the presets on the most conservative setting because anything beyond that and it gets too boomy for our speakers, but still, very nice.
- It knows to stop drawing power when the car is turned off. The problem with our previous chargers was that you had to go through like a 3 step process to get your ipod going every time you got in the car: plug in the charger, plug in the audio connection, and hit play. With this, you just turn your car on and the music starts. Just like in the mixtape days! And it's got a long cord so you can hide the ipod from the raving hoard of ipod thieves that lurk in every parking lot.
So that's the good, and it's very good. Unfortunately, there's also...
- The display is very limited. You can display either Artist Name, Album Name, or Song Name, and that's it. Only one. You have to hit a button to change it.
- The scrolling is just stupid. I understand and appreciate scrolling for long names so that you can read the whole thing. But there is no reason to scroll if the full name fits on the screen. Take a short band name like U2 and you are more likely to look down and see nothing than the band name.
- You lose a lot of iPod functionality. The iPod screen is replaced with Pioneer's logo, so you can't see album art, rate songs, or use any of the iPod navigational controls to move forward and backwards, select playlists, etc. You are stuck using the stereo's controls.
- And believe me, these controls are awkward. Most of the controls are accessible using a joystick-like dial that requires an inward (like ducking in Halo) push. These are maneuvers that are very difficult to perform while driving. Basic functions, like skip and fast foward, are not easy to do with this joystick, especially when driving.
- Compounding the control bottom is the choice of buttons that are available on the front of the stereo. Obviously, having buttons for common functions would make things much easier, but to give an example: there is a button to choose your sub-woofer configuration, but in order to pause a song, you have to push in on the joystick until the screen says "Function", scroll through the functions until you see the word "Pause", click right on the joystick and change the "Off" status to "On" by pushing in on the joystick. There's a "shuffle all" button, which i have accidentally pressed several times already, taking me out of my playlists and into a full iPod shuffle.
- The stereo does also come with a remote control, and the controls using the remote are somewhat better, but it's a flat remote that one would expect to see included with a television or home stereo, not the type that attaches to your steering wheel or anything. Maybe i can rig it to stay attached to the sun visor or something...
Overall, it's like there was a team responsible for the important stuff, like making sure it sounded good, and then an interface team, who was responsible for making me very frustrated. I was really mad at it when i first got it, but i've come to accept the good things about it and deal with the rest. It also has a 1/4" aux input so i could always go that route if i get totally frustrated, but so far i've dealt with the iPod connection so it can't be that bad. It just seems like they took a good product and deliberately sabotaged it with some obvious mistakes.
i can't believe you're impugning the quality of my jetta's speakers. of all the cars we've had, they've been the best so far. hrmph. no wonder it doesn't like you. you're a jerk.
too bassy. and not a nice tight bass sound either. just a big fat pthlllllth.
i'll show you a big fat pthlllllth!