BUYING A CAR STEREO HEAD UNIT - FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED
All this week days, we could learn & understand more about buying a stereo head unit for our cars whether it is ANHC or for other cars.
Thanks for the active participation & your contributions … kuwaronline, Sandykudva, HaruH, saishibu38380 and also to all those who are passive in reading this thread.
I would request the reader, if you are interested to know more, to read all the discussions here in these pages from POST
and, also my article about OE HU
here. ABOUT CASKA:
No doubt, CASKA had its own marketing strategy with all the car dealers, ultimately making them to sell at a cost unreasonably more, probably there may be a different inside story in sharing the profit at the cost of the customer! The only USP they used… Simple plug and play, no warranty issues, seamless integration with the dash board, for that matter with any car make in India!
Interestingly, Honda India diplomatically said ‘CASKA is not approved by Honda, Japan!’ !!!
I understand from fellow ANHC owners who also own aftermarket CASKA HU that it is a good set, but the question is whether VFM
As ANHC 2014 has come out with a new dashboard panel, it is unfortunate for a make like CASKA as they were producing OE replacement all these years from 2009 to 2013 for ANHC owners, costing a bomb! ie., Rs. 45 K to 60 K…!
Of course, console yourself; it is not only for us, they did it even for other makes including MARUTHI.
Now CASKA has no other alternative except to sell out all the old stock, as they are no more required by fourth generation ANHC 2014 owners. Now the cost of ANHC CASKA came down to 27 to 30K, the price of the basic unit with free reverse camera. All other add-ons are extra like navigation and we don’t know what would the quality of the free camera as it ranges from Rs.500 to 5000 in the market. There are two types of CASKA units available for ANHC , the one produced before 2011 without a panel & one produced after 2012 which comes with a panel and a larger display, what they call as smart series.
I have seen better Chinese make than CASKA @ Aliexpress, HU for our ANHC, of course by features & not by experience. Though the cost is cheaper, factors like the shipping charges, custom duty, after market service, purchase without knowing the SQ prohibited me. There are makes like CASKA, the Fly Audio, and Mega Audio as OE replacement but not enough information about their efficiency. FEATURES – CHECK LIST:
I hope this check list would help anyone before buying a suitable aftermarket stereo head unit for our cars. ABOUT CAR'S HEAD UNIT.
The displays in our dash are much more complicated than the phones in our pockets. HU does, from controlling the car's many functions to smartphone compatibility and ensuring all of the various applications can run concurrently. The hardware should not only manage the multiple application process, must be able to withstand all of the shock, vibration, temperature extremes that an average car encounters. BRAND:
I personally feel that the best HU would be from Alpine & Pioneer, next Kenwood, JVC, and all others are thereafter.
One thing to be remembered while buying an electronic item, it is not the brand only counts as not all the products of that brand would have been successful. So it is for us to select a good product from a good brand. DESIGN & ADOPTERS:
It is a very important factor despite of its best quality , it should seamlessly integrate with the dash board panel of the car. Unnecessary protrusion will spoil everything. Though ‘2 DIN’ is a universal specification, the set should merge with the OE panel design or we should be able get a panel to suit our dash board. (1 DIN = a 7 inch wide, 2 inch tall unit)
It is also important to check the availability of suitable 2DIN Connectors / Socket adopters to OE wiring harness, to avoid cutting of wires.
I understand from sites over internet, one of the latest & best model like Pioneer AVH-X5690BT don’t require a finisher panel, go well with OE dash as shown here, merge perfectly in Honda Amaze; hope, same for ANHC. SCREEN:
No doubt, bigger screen will look better. But without enough pixels, picture will not be crisp and sharp. For example 800 x 480 @ 6 inch screen will be sharper than 800x480 @ 7 inch screen. Of course, improved display panel of new models are better now.
VGA means Video Graphics Array, and has a resolution of 640*480 pixels. QVGA means Quarter Video Graphics Array and has a resolution of 320*240 pixels. WVGA (Wide Video Graphics Array- 16:9 for HD viewing) with a resolution of at least 800*480 pixels, Anti-glare & wider viewing angle is the one needed for our cars.
TFT (Thin film transistor) is the technology used currently in LCD display. Back lit LED illumination is better than Cold Cathode Light. It should be a pleasure to touch the screen as it should be nicely responsive- a capacitive touchscreen is better. While comparing the screen size, compare the display area – in both the model screen size may be same but the display area may be smaller than the other.
It is preferred to have the LED backlighting for the buttons which let us choose from a palette of colors to match the unit illumination with car’s interiors. QUALITY OF SOUND
Generally the standard speaker sound output would be 40 to 55 Watt X 4 @ 4 ohms load Impedance: Always compare Watts in RMS & not by PMPO. Frequency & Harmonic Distortion Rate are the indicators of clear sound. The lesser Harmonic Distortion rate example 0.001%(1khz ) and wide range of frequency, the lowest to highest, example 20hz~20000hz are better.
This is important if you really want to enjoy a crystal clear sound of all precision instruments in low volume. Better to have wider choice in equalizer functions to tune to our taste. REMOTE & STEERING WHEEL CONTROL
For me, this is a most important function & requirement. I did not get either the audio steering control or an IR remote control with my OE HU for an expensive car like ANHC EMT version.
After market set like CASKA has only wired control to connect OE steering control harness, but no IR remote.
It is better to have both – The Steering control while self-driving and IR Remote for our back sitters. But not all the aftermarket HU has both.
If you have OE steering control, check the compatibility or can it be made with adopters. We may require to buy external adapter of "Connects2" (cost around 3 K) if Pioneer SWC wire doesn't work in our car.
For a car like me, without remote control, IR remote is a must. I can use two remotes with IR - one aftermarket steering remote like Pioneer CD-SR110 and another credit card type which should come with HU, for co passengers. The aftermarket steering remote needs periodical replacement of battery.
Pioneer CD-SR110 :Aside from enabling control of your DVD/CD player, this steering wheel remote also enables you to control Bluetooth functionality. FEATURES OPERATING SYSTEM & FIRMWARE:
The common OS are Android, WIN CE6 and other generic software based on Linux etc.,
Check whether there is a provision to update / upgrade the software /firmware. This will help to make it better.
The interface should be pleasant and user friendly. VIDEO & AUDIO FORMATS
Better to play all formats but at least MP4, apart from DVD format (mpeg2) & VCD format (mpeg1)
Of course, software like Total video converter can help to convert the format that can be played by the unit.
One important thing, the DVD Player Zone. Most of the car DVD players are universal but if they are specific to some countries in a zone, you won’t be able to play all the DVD Disc. For example, a set purchased from Middle East country will not play a DVD disc purchased from USA. But it can play any universal Disc not meant for any country. Zone free HU is always better.
PAL & NTSC signals are not an issue now days.
Audio format - Better to play all formats but at least AAC. Built in AM/FM tuner, auto search and storage are standard now days. BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY
Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR connectivity for clarity of calls, hands free functions through car speakers on stopping the music play, phone book function, easy pairing of mobile phone of any platform, whether Android, Windows Or Apple Os. If possible, a provision for wireless Bluetooth streaming of audio from mobile phone is also good. GPS:
Built in facility for navigation, support to all kinds of maps, text to speech direction. REAR VIEW CONNECTIVITY:
Possibly compatibility with all reverse cameras. Should go well with better, higher resolution camera.
OPTIONAL, OTHERS: Preferred: SD/ USB2.0 port
– Required RCA OUT CONNECTIONS
-for easy, future amplifications Others: Head Rest Entertainment
- May be required for those who has a plan of putting monitors for back seat passengers to enjoy without disturbing the driver. TV
- Extra TV box and antenna needed, mostly meant for analogue TV. TPMS-
Tyre pressure monitor system, usually seen in very high end cars to get warning message about car tyre pressure and temperature, expensive add-on. Ex. Orange Electronic's real-time tire pressure monitoring system reads tire pressures and temperatures every three seconds and transmits readings to the driver's LED display for all four tires simultaneously every 30 seconds, 24 hours a day. Plug & play with 12v output. IPod integration
: Some may prefer to have full iPod control integration. FOOT NOTE:
To get a set with all required function is not only expensive but difficult. We may think twice whether all these functions are needed & whether we would be using it. Some compromise can be made. That’s why make like Pioneer has multiple options… 15.4cm or 17.78 cm display, with BT or not etc.,
The SQ is based on many other factors – car cabin, damping of doors, amplification, band of equalizer preferred, quality of speakers and wire used etc.,…
Therefore, nothing could be the ultimate!
Get satisfied at one level otherwise it would drain your pocket.