Digital music in the car: part II

I began blogging about my car project earlier this month. Here are options I figured out so far:

1. Install full computer in the car. This might be new Sony U750 portable with 5" touchscreen. Or put DIN-size PC in the standard opening and add 7" touchscreen. However, I am not sure how slow Windows XP will boot on those units (2.5" HDD is not a speedy rocket and VIA 1GHz CPU is not snappy either (I know since I am running music PC based on VIA 800 MHz CPU). I am also unsure about temperature. Most HDDs specify 10C (~52F) as minimal operating temperature. It gets lower in wnter here in Seattle. Windows CE.NET would be better, but SDK is $995. Yeah, I work for Microsoft, but I'd like to make something that others will be able to replicate.

2. Add an interface to head unit. This gets to iPod2Car or Dension IceLink. Dension does not support Toyota Prius so I am limited to iPod2Car. Cost is around $250.

3. Install Alpine 98xx unit with iPod interface. Convenient, but Alpine usability is pretty bad (slow scroll, awkward button sequences, limited nuber of titles supported, English-only display, blocks iPod controls). However, with cheapest Alpine head unit total cost is just around $300.

4. Install new head unit with Aux input. Clarion DRZ9255 is my favorite (it can be found for much less than MSRP). This requires running line out cable as well as DC power cable. I want neat install that won't involve cigarette lighter adapters and wires hanging around while music player is sliding left and right on the passenger seat. So some kind of cradle with minimal wiring is a must. Probably more expensive proposition than #3.

As for player itself, it seems buying new iPod is inevitable. I checked out Portable Media Centers, but they all are only 20GB (too small for my lossless music and I already own 20GB iPod). I am not sure why PMCs are limited to 20GB since iPod 30GB was avialble two years ago and 40-60GB disks have been around for quite some time. iRiver announced 40GB PMC but delivery date is not known. iPod Photo is available in 60GB version (and I'd like to have 80 GB or more). Other players either don't support titles in Unicode or don't support lossless compression.

I will probably try iPod2Car first. There have been some complaints about its reliability and somewhat upredictable behavior when it works in some cars and does not in others even if car model and year is exactly the same. My other option will be #3.

Comments (11)
  1. Derek Fournier says:

    I have a new Prius as well (and am exmsft). I am fighting the need to buy an iPod and looking into a small PC made for rugged environments (like only cheaper. My concern and question is, can a UI be crafted or hosted in a Windows OS that would display as a Touchscreen applet on the Prius built in display. I knwo there is an XM radio add in that enables this (from but I am unsure if they wrote their own interface or if the interface was embedded and simply unlocked. I would loike to end up with a network endpoint that I can copy songs to over Wifi in the house whil eit is parked in the garage (WOL to wake up the PC then use normal file browsing to move data etc. )

    More novel than functional maybe, but I know that we can input video and audio to the Prius via an add on from coastal e tech so it would seem that if the interface could be crafted, a cool solution would exist.

    Just wondering what you thought…

  2. I looked into PC solution, but what drove me away was necessity to boot machine before playing and shut it down when you leave the car. There are some means to automate the process, but cost of the machine + additional automation + special power supply + install drives cost wayt too high. I briefly considered adding USB hard drive to inexpensive CE.NET unit with good screen like SimPad SL4 and writing some custom software. However, SimPad is no longer supported by Siemens and new CE tools do not even support its CPU 🙁

    So I ended up with Alpine + iPod, especially conting that I already owned one anyway…

  3. Default Gateway says:

    You might find some interesting ideas here:

    No russian tags on Alpine HU though… 🙁



  4. JD says:

    I am working on a similar setup with the drz9225 and a U-750P…

    I was thinking I would use the 4 usb ports on the docking station for GPS, Xitel Pro Hi-fi link, External HD, and a digital video camera probably the sony Viao one or blue tooth (for phone integration and internet)

    after that mount the docking station and have everything tucked away under the console.

    right now i’m looking for the best way to power the HD and the U

    Any way I wanted to tell you to check out the xitel or the some other usb to digital optical out adapter to hook up to the DRZ… I have one which I use to connect my computer to my home stereo and the difference is amazing… and my home stereo is not capable of optical inputs…

  5. Alberto G says:

    hey, i put a peripheral ipod link in my 2005 prius, it works 90 percent of the time, i like it, and i got an ijet at radioshack for $9, (wireless remote) and it works great.  The output is slightly low, but it is much better than swapping out discs every 50 minutes.  It doesn’t show the track name either, and it is NOT made for the prius, i found this out when I asked them why it a little wierd, and they said it was NOT supported for Prius even thought it stated it on the package, there is also a cool imac mod in the dash that is cool, I want to get a video input as well, thanks

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