Monday, May 25, 2009

Car Audio

I am an iPhone convert.  I've used BlackBerry's for years, and Palm-based devices before that.  I remember my high hopes for the Tungsten W - and how great it was to finally get one....only to start using it.

Now I have my iPhone, and have put it through it's paces a bit.  Sure I can't type as fast as the BlackBerry - but there is just SO MUCH MORE you can do with this device.  I've set up media servers streaming to it, played with Office apps, and punted islanders.  Combined with the Media capablities out of the box - it's impossible for a techy to go back to the BlackBerry.  I had someone demo some of the "amazing things" the storm does - and I may have laughed (cried?) on the inside.

Anyways, now I'm on to the next step - my car.  I have a 2004 model - which means I do not have an Aux in port.  I'm not much of a fan of having my iPhone connected through the car via a simple Aux in connection anyways - as if someone calls this could lead to fumbling around/etc. 

So I investigated further...and it appears that most car audio places want you to install an entire new car stereo system.  Basically, install the latest Alpine deck and connect it up via Bluetooth for calls, and the PIN port on the iPhone for audio and charging.  This results in the iPhone basically being a HDD for music and supporting Bluetooth for calls.  But it means I have to install some new DIN thing - and the entire dash gets replaced.

Next solution offered by a place I found called Unique Visions was something called a Parrot MKi9200.  It's basically an external source that can connect to the iPhone over bluetooth and/or the PIN connector.  I read some reviews that seem up and down - and too be honest, I don't really care about handling calls in the car that much.  What I do care about is listening to music/podcasts/streaming/browsing in my car...and this seems inserting another thing into the telephone game...

In other words - all recommended solutions are to bury the iPhone in the glove box and use car stereos or something similar as the UI for everything.

So tell me....WHY?  Why can't I buy a car stereo to plug the iPhone in to - where the iPhone display is the primary display?  Why do I have to connect the audio out from the iPhone to some other source - can't it go directly to the amp?  None of these "solutions" support the fact that I might want to go beyond standard replaying MP3's and handling bluetooth calls?  The most amazing solution would be an in-dash iPhone-based car entertainment system.  Oddly, it would have to support both portrait and landscape use ideally.  I found someone who installed a Touch into his Jeep.  I don't know about doing this however..

I think my solution is going to be to highjack my SAT port on the current factory deck - I found some cables that should do it - and route the cables to some sort of "vent hanging" device.  I don't like it - but I can't find any sensible solutions.