• Jun 8, 2007
A few short years ago, getting a CD player or better yet, a multidisc changer in your car was an upgrade. Now, the little silver disc has taken up residence with cassettes as cast-off technology. Even with the cheap digital to analog converters that are in car stereos, CDs have a sound advantage over lossy data codecs like MPEG, but only us geeks seem to care that hi-hats sound like someone whisking an egg. Besides, portability and flexibility easily trumps esoteric sound quality. Truth be told, even though the original CDs sound better, my mp3 player is so much more convenient that I'll be adding an auxiliary input to my factory stereo – no small feat on some cars.

Ward's Automotive Interior show, currently underway at the Cobo center, is allowing automakers to show their wares to the masses over the next few days, with the realization that future vehicles are bound to dispatch that awkward center control unit for something more intuitive and user-programmable. Several automakers have already realized that people have all sorts of portable devices, and as such, new car interiors bristle with input jacks and 12-volt power sockets.

[Source: Detroit News]

Aftermarket solutions for iPod connectivity, hard drive storage and device integration are abound, and automakers are also jumping on the bandwagon. Ford is rolling out Sync, its joint effort with Microsoft that will doubtless do many more wondrous things in the future as the system matures. Chrysler vehicles can be equipped with the Harman MyGig system that uses a 20GB hard drive as media storage, and other automakers are hard at work with their OEMs, integrating digital media systems. With car-wide data systems like CAN, entertainment gear can be less centralized, that 20GB hard drive doesn't have to go in the dash, it can be tucked away safely with just a small panel of rotary encoders in the dash, talking to the various pieces of the audio system. It really is a brave new world, and as the CD player frees up room in dashboards, we hope to see controls and style come first, and big honkin' LCD screens held at bay. Otherwise, it'd be trading one big real-estate consumer for another that's worse, as multifunction displays become more cluttered and confusing.


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  • 37 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      My friend bought a 2006 golf tdi and it only came with a casette player.. VW is a joke
        • 7 Years Ago
        VW also offers Ipod integration and all GTIs come with an aux input. Maybe your friend should just buy a better model in the lineup?
      • 7 Years Ago
      It just a matter of time, Stereos will be able to download off of your portable unit and you car stereo will have a huge hard drive and store your whole collection.

      Rob
      http://www.autoshortlist.com
      • 7 Years Ago
      I personally prefer my MP3 CD player in my Focus to an MP3 player. It holds about 200 songs per CD and 1,200 songs in a 6 disk changer. MP3 players are fairly expensive and break down a lot (hard drives were never designed to be portable). Most of my friends with MP3 players have to replace them ever 2 years. Even the working ones have about an hour of battery life left in them. Still for people who do use MP3 players, the CD player is pretty much deadweight in the car.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I have to agree with this comment.

        I have an MP3 capable CD-player and find this is the best route for me. CD-Rs are very inexpensive these days, and when I'm done listening to the music on it, I usually just leave them somewhere to either be thrown away, or picked up by someone else willing to try new music.

        Also, with MP3 cds, you don't have to worry about your player breaking all the time *cough*iPod*cough*. If you scratch a CD? Who cares. Burn another one for $0.10.
      • 7 Years Ago
      When I bought my new Honda, I was shocked that it had a 6disc CD changer/XM/FM and AM but NO 1/8" audio jack. C'mon, it's 2007 folks.

      So I started looking around and found this:
      http://www.logjamelectronics.com/
      &
      http://www.beaufordbuddy.com/ipod_install_1.htm

      Adding this will not disable any of my radio's feature. And being a 1/8" jack will allow me to use other MP3 players. I will be attempting the install this weekend.
      • 7 Years Ago
      All I want is a solution whereby I can park my car, and the car will automatically sync my music/media with my computer through WiFi. If I make a new play list, I can send it to my car from my office/bedroom, no fuss, devices to connect/disconnect/carry from computer-to-car vice-versa.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Alpine (or Pioneer) + iPod + Sirius = no need for CDs or terrestrial radio.

      I've got this combination and it is a winner. I'm hoping my next car will allow for the same setup.

      Alpine has seen the writing on the wall and just released a head unit without a CD player. It's called the iDA-X001 Digital Media Receiver.

      RIP CD - you served us well, but technology marches on.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ted, that sounds cool. Only problem I see are manufacturers who don't have DIN friendly stereo's. There is no way I could get one of those to fit my car without some MAJOR modifications.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I just recently replaced my 99 Solara's stock head unit with a nice Pioneer unit that includes a USB port. I ran a USB cable out into my center console, and my iPod sits in the tissue dispenser, while I have full control over it from the HU's controls (one large knob used to emulate the iPod UI - works very well).

      Nice thing, it also supports USB flash/hard drives (anything bus powered, really), and it was less than $300.
      • 7 Years Ago
      only an hour of battery life? I can run my Sony NW-HD5 for two days! I can also replace the battery easily, unlike iPods. It also sounds better. And I can upgrade the harddrive easily. Did I mention I love it? :)

      It's pretty rare in the US, though. Everyone has an iPod, but I hate iTunes with a passion, and iPods don't sound that great to me.

      What can I say, I'm picky.
        • 7 Years Ago
        took me about 20min to replace my iPod battery. can be done, but with patience.
      • 7 Years Ago
      bgdc: I have one CDRW that I keep in the CD player in my car. When I'm tired of the music on there, I take it into the house, and burn a new batch of songs on it. No clutter.

      Not that it matters all that much, because I'm usually listening to XM anyway.

      As for "beating the Ipod", that was in reference to my portable MP3 player. it looks like a jump drive with a screen and a few buttons. You can load it up with music by simply dragging and dropping, it takes one AAA battery, and if I break it, I'm out $40. I looked at Ipods, but couldn't see the point. You can't just drop new batteries in if the existing ones wear out, you have to use proprietary software to transfer playable music to them, the they are heavy (aside from the shuffles) and they are cumbersome. And, to top it off, I hated the gawdawful control pad. I bought a model very similar to this:

      http://www.cobyusa.com/_en/prod_item.php?item=MPC888&pcat=portaudio&pscat=mp3&pscat2=

      It's compact, dirt cheap, and nearly impossible to break. And, it doesn't have Apple's proprietary fingerprints all over it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Er... that's supposed to read "MP3 Player."
      • 7 Years Ago
      One word for all you who want to use a USB that displays on the head unit: FORDSYnc!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      All this iPod talk gets me excited for the next revision. Can Not Wait! Nor can my AAPL shares!!!!! My juicy, lovely, beautiful AAPL shares. AND the friggin' phone!!!!!!!!!!! Oh wait, what was this article about? the demise of the CD player (pets iPod lovingly). Favorite anti-iPod comments, "failing hard drives", "one-hour batteries that are non-replaceable", people "who don't want one" or hate the horrible, unintuitive iTunes. Yeah, iPods suck alright - did I mention my AAPL shares? (Does Snoopy dance around computer chair)
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